Babush lost; but also won

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
16 March 2011 22:19 IST

“I am not happy with the CCP results. We made some mistakes, which we could have avoided.”

Education Minister Babush Monseratte said this, little before he drove down to his palacious house at Taleigao to publicly sip Champagne at a victory rally on a dry day.

Very good ‘education’ to the student community indeed.

Yes, Babush lost; though, he won the prestigious CCP poll. But the BJP lost the poll as well as a golden opportunity of conscious citizens creating a history in Goa.

The biggest mistake of Babush, according to me, that he is Babush Monseratte. It’s his black image that made him scrape through the Panaji corporation poll. He is now desperate to prove that his image is not as black as has been created by everybody.

The historic 75 per cent voting was in fact a clear indication that Babush is in trouble. Even the ‘politically uneducated’ higher middle class lined up at the polling booth to defeat the one whom they look as a monster. They proved that they are equally educated to teach political lesson, when time comes.

Babush had claimed 27 seats out of total 30. He had ruled the CCP one full term with 20 seats in 2006, when he had concentrated only in Taleigao and not so much in Panaji Assembly constituency. But this CCP poll was different. He entered the poll with an announcement to contest the next Assembly poll from Panaji, against BJP leader and his former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who had made him a minister for the first time.

In spite of using all varying election tactics for the migrant labour, lower middle class, higher middle class and even the filthy rich at different levels, the Ponjekar reacted negatively to Babush. He won; but only 16 seats! In reality, he lost.

He lost two seats of his own Taleigao bastion to the BJP, that too with a sizeable margin like 195 (ward 5) and 76 (ward 7) votes. He lost two more in Panaji Assembly segment, equally with sizeable margin of 152 (ward 13) and 116 (ward 22). Total four losses in the wards of 1000 to 1500 voters.   

Rudresh Chodankar, who has now been nominated to the post of deputy mayor, could win only by 16 votes in a 1000-strong ward (23) in Mala-Fontainhas. One of the BJP candidates Deodita D’Cruz (ward 19) lost by only four votes.

Though it ultimately lost the number game, the BJP however has gained in terms of seats. It raised its tally from eight to 12 seats, winning four more seats. But this cannot be termed as the BJP vote bank. People voted for the BJP-sponsored Panaji First candidates to reject Babush panel.  

In reality, the BJP has also lost the whole gamble. The biggest gamble they played was fielding their mayoral candidate Ashok Naik against three-term strong Yatin Parekh, who is the Panaji mayor today. Their political stubbornness to go alone cost them a mayoral candidate today. Tomorrow, if they continue to be stubborn, it could cost them their chief ministerial candidate – Manohar Parrikar, to Babush Monseratte.  The Assembly elections won’t be as simple as Babush versus Parrikar. It would be Congress versus BJP and even secularism versus communalism, whether one likes it or not.

The BJP did not win 12 seats on its own. In fact their Panaji First panel would have lost miserably if the citizens of Panaji had not come out in large numbers to vote against Babush panel. The environment was created by three citizens’ groups – BJP sympathisers called Friends of Good Governance (FOGG), Panajiites Initiative for Change (PINC) led by Dr Oscar Rebello and Aravind Bhatikar as well as Edgar Rebeiro-led yet another citizens’ group. The citizens reacted positively, though the major group of BJP did not.

The BJP candidates lost three seats merely because the votes split. The seat in Mala area where they lost by only four votes had two more candidates, who polled 24 votes. Journalist-turned-candidate Ashley Rosario polled 121 votes, paving way for Babush candidate Kabir Makhija to win with 42 per cent votes against BJP candidate Manoj Patil. Aires Rodrigues (341) and BJP’s own rebel Shamsundar Naik (122) in Ribandar made Babush candidate Vivina Nasnodkar victorious with only 35 per cent votes.  

Whether Babush supporters liked it or not, there was a strong anti-Babush wave created in CCP poll. All eyes were set on it since it was not merely a city poll but a Battle of the Capital – Parrikar versus Babush. But the BJP preferred to sit on its political ego than making a common front of all the like-minded citizens to achieve a common goal.

A similar situation, it may be recalled, was created in 1984 Assembly election in Margao. People of the cultural city wanted to defeat Babu Naik. They fielded Adv Uday Bhembre as their common candidate, keeping aside all the political egos and ideological differences. Voters came out in large number to create a history. Sadly, the history could not repeat in Panaji, the capital city.

Babush is now desperate to wipe out his black image. He has promised a corruption-free corporation. It’s an indirect admission that his previous council was not clean. In fact he denied tickets to two of his councillors – Nagesh Karishetty and Uday Madkaikar - since their corrupt activities got exposed. He has now co-opted an upright activist like Patricia Pinto to solve garbage problem of the city. He is bound to take many more steps to prove that he is the BEST MLA Panaji could have.

How to march ahead in such a situation is up to the Ponjekar. But Panaji poll was much more than this. It’s a lesson to all sound-minded Goans to think and act. Who elects the corrupt MLAs? The ones who vote them or the ones who do not go to vote? If Panaji voters had voted one common candidate in each ward, they could have achieved their goal of winning the poll. But that does not mean that the effort was an utter failure. In fact, it’s a big success.

USA president Barack Obama, while contesting the prestigious election, had given a simple but powerful slogan – Yes, We Can. The Panaji civic poll has proved it once again – Yes, We Can. If the ones who don’t vote otherwise come out, then yes, we can. We can make a difference. A big difference indeed; provided the political strategy is also planned well. No egos. No blame games. Not sitting stubbornly on minor political or ideological differences.

We don’t need revolts like Egypt, Tunisia or Libya. Our democracy is powerful enough to throw out the corrupt and anti-people leaders through a Vote. It has been proved umpteen number of times. It was proved in post-emergency poll by defeating Indira Gandhi’s Congress. It was proved by defeating the India Shining slogan of the BJP. It can be proved once again in the coming Assembly election to make Goa free of corruption and communalism, provided the citizens come together and decide it.

May be the like-minded citizens in and outside all the parties need to come together for a common cause. The target could be those who want to vote conscientiously and also those who normally don’t go to vote. The normal 60 per cent polling shows that almost 30 to 40 per cent voters don’t vote. The winner, on the other hand, seldom gets over 50 per cent votes. If the Panaji model is implemented everywhere in Goa, then – Yes, We Can!

The only million dollar question, however, is – who will bell the cat?

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of Prudent & Goa365, 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. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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Previous Comments

Yes all like minded people should come together and form one unity, I think the new Group GRA is one of them so I ask the people to join and support GRA were all Goans Hindus, Muslim & Christians are united. This GRA might be the turning point of Goa, so politicians beware of GRA, people lost faith in Congress, BJP, NCP and UGDP

- Ramponkar, Goa | 19 th March 2011 21:16


Firstly, it is a malaise the Goan electorate have of thinking secular and communal and this divide will persist for a very long time to come.

Secondly, the power of money in the hands, of the controllers of panels, sways the pattern of voting.

And thirdly, the fear of being seen opposing the ruling dispensation, and perhaps retaliation. Possibly, someone even changing his or her mind, on the eve of the elections.

People should rather develop a sense of loyalty to the State and generations to come, rather than living those short term benefits, and start becoming fearful of putting someone undeserving at the helm of affairs, who could do irreparable damage threatening our very existence. A revolution of thinking anew, a new leaf bringing the necessary change within us, soon enough before the next elections.

- Ludovico, Old-Goa | 19 th March 2011 18:34


A well written article- realistically analysing the outcome for the CCP elections in Panaji.

Goa has its typical problems and with small constituencies and vote bank politics--it would need Herculean efforts for the honesty and probity to succeed against the dishonesty and corruption which has become the hallmark of the present day politics......

If Goa has to be saved for the future generations--may be it needs leaders who could bind all the like minded people together cutting across the divides of religion /cast--- and move ahead with them --instil a deep sense of confidence and security --keep away a few elements who strongly believe that they are born to educate the masses by pushing their own agenda of digging out the unpleasant pages of the history and creating mass euphoria-....and above all --who would stick to ideologies and,values and principles and above all look at the politic as a tool to serve the masses rather than becoming their Bosses....

- vishwas prabhudesai, loliem | 19 th March 2011 09:50


Yes , you are right , we do not need movement like of Egypt or Tunisia to throw the corrupt politicians. our voters are very alert and in due course of time voters will prove that . But In Goa our main problem is number of voters, they are Very less compare to BIHAR and that makes differecnt in Goa.

"Size of voters makes difference in GOA"

- sanjay Dessai, Curchorem Goa | 19 th March 2011 07:43


Yet another well thought and well written article by Sandesh. It should be a must read for every Goan... a truly balanced, neutral and thought provoking article.

- Hubert Gomes, Benaulim | 17 th March 2011 19:16


What has to change is the 'MINDSET' of both Babush & Parrikar, who are both immersed in their own ego's. They have to both align to the needs of the people of Panjim as well as Goa and ensure Good Governance, Free from Corruption & Self Centered Politics!

- Ricardo Rebelo, Panjim | 17 th March 2011 18:16


Excellent Article! Keep it up it sure brings in awarness to the readers on the current scenario in Goa.

- Mario , goa | 17 th March 2011 16:10


Keep penning such enlighting thoughts. Media being fourth pillar of democracy can help in getting togther people from different ideologies.

- Deepak Datar, Goa | 17 th March 2011 10:03


Yes nice history The people of Goa also showed to Bandodakr when he wanted to merge Goa to Maharasthra, this should be also written by Sandesh may be he missed it.

- Ramponkar , Goa | 17 th March 2011 05:10


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