AAP’s claim of 35: Premature or Immature?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
03 July 2016 13:58 IST

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal needs to make realistic statements if he wants Goa to take him seriously. The first rally of AAP held on 22nd May pulled a crowd of over 8000 and every political party and even political analysts realised that AAP is not a joke to be laughed out. Significantly, most of this crowd came in self-driven vehicles. It was an outcome of the silent work of the Goan youth across the state. The most shocking visible impact was the large number of Saxttikar attending the rally. It made even Prime Minister Narendra Modi enquiring with Goa’s BJP Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar about the AAP spread-out in Goa. 

But that does not justify Kejriwal claiming 35 seats out of 40 in the next Assembly election. “We will make Delhi in Goa,” he told the media during his second visit this week. No doubt AAP swept Delhi poll last year, winning 67 out of 70 seats. But that doesn’t equate Delhi with Goa, except the fact that voter is disappointed with the BJP as well as the Congress in both the states, but only in the Assembly, not for the Lok Sabha poll. Demographic and socio-economic factors are also not similar. AAP may argue that they are sweeping forthcoming Punjab Assembly election. Almost all the survey reports indicate over 100 seats for AAP out of 117. Thus why not replicate Punjab in Goa? But AAP had won 4 Lok Sabha seats out of 13 with 30% votes in Punjab two years ago. In Goa, AAP polled hardly 4% votes, with both the candidates losing their deposits. Is AAP rooted in Goa as much as it has in Punjab? The young dedicated cadres are visible; but is that enough to claim a sweeping victory of 35?

Secondly, any particular party sweeping the election is not a new phenomenon for Delhi. In 1951, Congress had won 39 out of 42 seats. Just like how AAP swept the Assembly poll last year. 67 out of 70 seats. Only 3 seats to the opposition. The Congress had also won 44 seats out of 56 in 1972 election. Again it had won 52 seats out of 70 in 1998 election. The BJP had won 49 seats in 1993. And AAP had made its debut in the Delhi Assembly in 2013 by winning 28 seats. It swept the second election, not the first one.

AAP is yet to open its account in Goa, either in Lok Sabha poll like Punjab or in the Assembly poll like Delhi. Secondly, any state-wide wave in Goa has never ever resulted into any party polling over 50% votes, except MGP polling 57% in 1963 and Congress (Urs) polling 53% in 1980. In spite of this, the MGP won only 16 seats out of 30 in 1963; Goa’s first election. The Congress (U) won 20 out of 30 seats in 1980. MGP polled 7 seats including Daman and Diu while 3 seats went to independents – Harish Zantye (Bicholim), Vishnu Naik (Panaji) and Chandrakant Chodankar (Siolim). Congress (Indira) swept the elections nationwide and Goa’s 28 MLAs from Congress (U), MGP and Independents jumped on the Congress (I) bandwagon. Ramakant Khalap and Babuso Gaonkar backed out last minute and kept the MGP alive, with the opposition of only 2 in the Assembly. But, this was the post-election scenario.

Even Goa’s first election could provide only 16 seats to Bhausaheb Bandodkar’s MGP (along with 2 seats of Praja Samajwadi in an alliance) in spite of a strong Bahujan Samaj wave that made the Indian National Congress bite the dust. Bhau emerged as a visionary and saviour of Goa. His photo was hung in each and every house of Hindu Bahujan Samaj – Goa’s 60% population. But still the maximum number of seats he could achieve was 18 out of 30 in the third election of 1972. Of course the reason was also MGP’s pro-Maharashtra and pro-Marathi stance, which kept the Christian community away from the party, which brought revolutionary land reforms across religions. The UGP continued as a dominant opposition with the support of Christians and upper strata of Hindus.

But the traditional 16-12 politics of Goa (16-12 चें राजकारण) came to an end with both the MGP and UGP leaders coming together under the banner of Congress (U) to fight 1980 election. This was a historic milestone in Goa’s electoral politics, which broke the backbone of Goa’s Hindu-Christian divide. The strong unity wave swept the historic poll. The Congress (U) polled 53% votes. But, still, could not win beyond 20 seats, out of 30. A one third still went to the opposition.

Then came a strong anti-Congress wave in the last Assembly election of 2012. It was named as Parivartan. The massive wave benefited the BJP immensely, especially with the Hindu party getting six Christian-dominated constituencies. But still not more than 21 seats in a House of 40. With the alliance partner MGP winning 3 more, it was 24. Four independents (who defeated BJP) and 2-member GVP also later supported the BJP-led alliance, making it a majority of 30, against 9 Congress and 1 independent. A two third once again.

Goa Assembly has 24 seats in four talukas of Salcete (8), Mormugao (4), Tiswadi (5) and Bardez (7) while the rest 16 seats are in 8 talukas. Though most of the constituencies in the four talukas of Old Conquests are Christian-dominated, no party can come to power without Hindu-Christian combination. There is no doubt that AAP is making inroads in 8-seat Salcete at grassroot level. But Goa Forward also has its base in Saxtti. AAP is also not a widespread buzz in the rest of the three coastal talukas. The movement is also not strikingly visible in other 8 talukas. No doubt it is spreading quite fast and the youth is getting attracted towards AAP. But that should climb up steps of winning few seats, then getting magic figure of 21 and then the tall claim of 35. There is still time to asses if AAP will climb all these three steps in one election.

AAP needs to take position on some crucial issues which unfortunately divide Goa, sometimes on geographical lines with Dabolim-Mopa issue or sometimes on communal lines with Medium of Instruction issue. The tourism-dominated coastland of Goa is opposed to mining, which is destroying Goa’s greenery in the hinterland and blocks the waterways in the midland. The mining belt is against the pervert side of beach and casino tourism. The midland is simply confused whether to embrace mining or tourism industry while its plateaus are filled with all kind of industries which benefit the outsiders more than the insiders. Influx of outsiders is still the issue haunting all over the state, in spite of the fact that Goa needs migrant labour. Amidst this, the middle class and upper middle class Goan is still struggling to buy land or a flat since the influx of holiday-home buyers have taken the real estate prices to unaffordable levels. On the other hand, Goa is witnessing huge number of exodus since the tiny beautiful state for the whole world is not a land of opportunities for the locals.

There are many such issues where AAP needs to take firm positions. They are waiting for Goa Dialogue, perhaps the right way to formulate policies of any political party. Even Goa Forward is doing it by holding Think Goa conclaves. But in such a situation, where uncertainty prevails on all the fronts, does it sound logical to claim 35 seats? Are other political parties foolish not to make such tall claims? Or is APP projecting itself wiser than the others? Is the Goan voter, which AAP is targeting, is the one who has never been fooled by anybody in the past? Or is it an oversmart attempt to establish itself as a winner by claiming a false figure of 35? Are Goans so naive?

Is it premature, or immature?

Blogger's Profile

Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of HCN and Prudent, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities.

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