Not ‘sacred’, a ‘secret’ vote will dominate

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 14 April 2019 23:04 IST

Normally it is silent vote that decides the winners in Goa elections nowadays. Open affiliation to any candidate or party is limited only to the hard-core cadres & ‘paid workers’. Majority prefers to remain silent because they don’t trust politicians any more. Yesterday’s loyal Congressman Subhash Shirodkar is with the BJP today and yesterday’s saffron Mahadev Naik is flying a Congress flag, claiming that he is the original Congressman. Dayanand Sopte moves from BJP to Congress and then back to BJP. And Sudhir Kandolkar overnight jumps from BJP to Congress simply because he has been denied BJP ticket.

Vishwajeet Rane wins on Congress ticket and jumps out soon after taking the oath as the new MLA, to become the BJP minister. Congressmen like Mauvin Godinho, Pandurang Madkaikar and Pravin Zantye get elected on BJP tickets. And even after serving as MGP MLAs and ministers for two years, Babu Azgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar hatch a midnight conspiracy with BJP to leave Sudin Dhavalikar alone in the MGP, to be dropped from the cabinet. And now Sudin and Deepak move openly with the Congress though they are fighting with BJP-turned-Congress candidate Mahadev Naik in Shiroda.

Why in such a situation any thinking voter would openly identify himself or herself with any candidate or party? Thus, the silent vote has always been dominating in Goa’s elections, may it be Assembly or Lok Sabha.

But present elections scheduled on 23rd April appear to be much different than this normal ‘silent’ trend. Voting has no more remained a ‘sacred’ exercise. In fact it has become a ‘top secret’. Meaning dubious, hypocratic and conspiracy-driven exercise.

WHO WON IN 2017?

This secret exercise had shown ‘positive results’ in 2017 Assembly election. The minority institution worked secretly for their own minority candidates fighting election on BJP ticket. They not only got them elected but dominated the BJP with a strong force of 7 out of 13. And in the rest of the constituencies, the institution in a calculated move supported Congress candidates, to move them up from 9 to 17, almost double, making it the single largest party. The strategy was simple. No matter who forms the government, this minority institute will call the shots.

Similar was the strategy played by the Goa Suraksha Manch, led by rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar. The saffron brigade contested only 5 seats while forging an alliance with MGP and Shivsena & gained only 10 % votes – around 10,000 votes. Is this the real strength of RSS in Goa when majority of the cadres moved to GSM? Or was it formed only for those hard-core RSS, who cannot vote anybody but the BJP? It is an open secret that majority of RSS votes were diverted to the winning candidates like Dayanand Sopte of Congress in Mandrem, independent Babush Monseratte in Panaji, Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda and so on. And this secret vote strategy defeated majority cadres in the BJP, pulling them down from 21 to 13, out of which 7 belonged to minority and 2 others were Congressmen. Precisely that’s the reason BJP could not find a successor to Manohar Parrikar from the cadre within the legislature party and Speaker Pramod Sawant had to resign from the speaker’s post to take over the reins.

COALITION OF MISTRUST?

BJP formed a coalition government legally, but not ethically. Except independent MLA Govind Gaude in Priol, the BJP joined hands with all those who were their number one rivals. The MGP who forged a pre-poll alliance with GSM with a sole aim to defeat the BJP and Goa Forward who rose on anti-BJP plank, as an alternate to Congress. They were trying for pre-poll alliance with the Congress till last minute. Obviously, this unholy alliance created furore among the voters, especially in the Goa Forward constituencies like Fatorda, Saligao and Siolim. It’s still brewing!

And because the alliance partners are not trustworthy enough, the BJP tried to strengthen itself by engineering defections in the opposition Congress as well as their own ruling colleagues like MGP. The sad demise of two BJP legislators – Francisco D’Souza and chief minister Manohar Parrikar weakened their strength, due to which they had to go for ‘midnight surgical strike’, as they call it proudly. Newly sworn in chief minister Dr Pramod Sawant continues claiming that some more MLAs from other camps would join the BJP bandwagon. Simply because the BJP doesn’t trust their coalition partners!

ELECTION OF MISTRUST

In this background of mistrust, we are facing the Lok Sabha election as well as four Assembly by-elections. Mandrem, Mapusa and Shiroda on 23rd April and Panaji on 19th May. Results on 23rd May. While the whole nation is discussing several crucial issues like Rafale deal, Bangla Deshi infiltrators and citizenship, Vikash or Vinash, assistance to farmers, Pulwama attacks and nationalism etc etc, in Goa there is mysterious silence, except heated discussions among hard-core bhakts on social media. Forget the majority of voters who usually remain silent, quite a few political leaders are also silent. Neither on the scene at all or disappearing from the scene after showing their faces while filling forms or one or two rallies.

There seems to be a valid reason for this mysterious silence. Let’s have a look at few cases as case studies.

MGP has come out openly in support of Congress for Lok Sabha as well as in Mapusa, but not in Shiroda because their own president Deepak Dhavalikar is contesting. Then what is the secret deal when Congress has a candidate Mahadev Naik in Shiroda? Vote for him or make him a scapegoat by secretly voting for Dhavalikar? Why all ‘loyal’ Congressmen are neither gone with Subhash Shirodkar nor moving with Mahadev Naik? And in Mandrem, why their veteran local leaders like Shridhar Mandrekar and others are moving with independent candidate Jeet Arolkar and not Congress candidate Babi Bagkar?

Goa Suraksha Manch is not contesting Lok Sabha poll. Only by-elections. Their leader Subhash Velingkar had said they would support Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre but defeat BJP in Goa. What does it mean? Vote for Lotus in Lok Sabha and their candidates in Assembly by-polls? Or once again a secret pact with the anti-BJP winning candidates in all the four Assembly constituencies? Not to divide anti-BJP votes?

Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardesai has said they are part of NDA and would remain with BJP in Lok Sabha election. Not only Vijai but even Jayesh Salgaonkar and Vinod Palayekar showed up when BJP candidates filed their nominations. But why are these leaders or their workers not seen moving with the BJP candidates? Will they tell their anti-BJP voters to press the Lotus button this time?  And will ‘their voter’ listen to them? Or a secret message is being floated?

Sudhir Kandolkar has always been a right hand man of late Francisco D’Souza, a five-time MLA, since 1999. First time as Goa Rajiv Congress and then the BJP MLA since 2002. His son Joshua is the BJP candidate, fighting his father’s right hand man Kandolkar, the Congress candidate. MGP is supporting Kandolkar in Mapusa. And who will D’Souza’s two-decade long supporters vote for now?

Former chief minister and three-time Mandrem MLA Laxmikant Parsekar suddenly withdrew his rebellion. He was obviously furious because his rival Dayanand Sopte was brought in, blacking out his future in the BJP. Parsekar is now with the BJP. But is he? Where is he? Why is he not moving with Sopte as a disciplined Sangh Swayamsevak? And why his hard-core BJP workers are not seen campaigning with Sopte? Will Parsekar sacrifice his political future by making Sopte win this by-election? Or again a ‘secret vote’ to defeat Sopte?

And what is the actual position in Calangute and Aldona, the BJP constituencies of Michael Lobo and Glenn Ticlo? Are they working wholeheartedly for Shripad Naik? Then why Lobo’s workers are seen moving with even local Congress leader Agnel Fernandes? And why Ticlo’s community voters are not seen at BJP campaign, like in the Assembly? Will they remain loyal to the BJP, or a ‘secret vote’?

Similarly, there is total confusion among Congress voters in Sattari. Father says Congress, son says BJP. And in Valpoi, Senior Rane still has an influence. Perhaps due to this, many hard core Congressmen are not seen with Vishwajeet. Whom will these Congress voters vote for?

Young Salcete is quite upset because Francisco Sardinha has been given ticket. They prefer youthful Elvis Gomes. But at the same time, there is a strong anti-BJP wave in Salcete. In such a situation, will they split the anti-BJP vote? Or go for a winning candidate?

Well, in short, this a harsh reality seen everywhere. Not only in the BJP camp but even in the Congress camp. And ultimately, these factors would decide the winner. Not the ‘sacred vote’ any more; but a ‘secret’ vote!!!

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Interesting

- Naguesh, Panaji-Goa | 14 th April 2019 18:00

 

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