Silence is the wave in Goa

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 28 May 2002 22:57 IST

Silent voting appears to be a prominent trend this time that has kept political bigwigs from almost all the political parties on their toes in the tenth Assembly election taking place in Goa on 30 May.

The dust of the campaign settled down today evening, after listening to public meetings of hordes of political leaders from Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka and even from the North East. Union minister Pramod Mahajan has been in fact camping here since 20 May.

Though they heard tall stories of good governance of the local BJP government and also appeals from the Congress leaders not to make Gujarat of Goa, people are not seen inspired with these things to ultimately translate into a strong wave of any kind.

The murmurs going on among the people however give an indication that the educated lot of Goa may simply vote against all the defectors, contesting from all the parties, cutting across normal lines of caste, community, religion or party ideologies.

"During my speeches, the maximum applause I got when I spoke against defections", admits Mahajan. According to him, it is not a surprise if voters simply decide to punish all the defectors for changing loyalties and bringing instability to the state for over a decade.

While facing a third Assembly election in the last 12 years, Goa has witnessed 13 chief ministers, two President's rule and two prematurely dissolved Houses, besides hardly anybody left without enjoying ministerial position, but not for a long period.

Discarding the theory, Ramesh Chennithala, the AICC observer here co-ordinating the whole election, feels that people are more worried about development than issues like defections. "The general mood is to vote for the person who delivers goods", he claims.

While contesting 40 seats, the Congress has fielded 15 habitual defectors, in spite of public outcry to get fresh faces. The BJP has also not remained a saintly figure after being in power for over two years with the help of defectors and then fielding five among them.

Parties like the NCP as well as regional outfits like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the United Goans Democratic Party have not only fielded defectors but even rejected rebels of the Congress and the BJP.

"People have a limited choice", admits Mahajan, but claims that the BJP is the best among all. The Congress however is harping upon all the experienced and seasoned politicians, who had hobnobbed with the BJP but have come back to the party fold.

But it is also a fact that none of the leader of any party, except chief minister Manohar Parrikar, was seen moving out of his constituency for a campaign. With a tough battle being faced even from new faces in some places, all these leaders are literally seen moving from door to door to retain their seat.

But, if minorities here respond to the Church appeal to reject defectors, corrupt and communal elements and the general disgust of the people also goes against those who create instability, it is not a surprise that people may vote to 'save the state' on 30 May - the Goa Statehood Day.


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Assembly '02