Goa: The Silence of the Voter an Engima for Polical Parties

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

If you ask any political party, they will tell you that they will be in a position of strength to form the next government. Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has claimed they will win 26 seats, Congress feel they will get 23, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has made positive claims of their own and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has made no secret that they cannot be ignored when forming the next government.

But word on the street, at tintos and in the market place is completely different. Eight days after Goa went to polls, there is no clarity. It is still the "silent voter" who holds the key and the "silent voter" has not given any indication which side the wind is blowing.

That has left political parties in a fix. Everyone is wondering whether it will be a hung assembly. Will the BJP ride the anti-incumbency factor to win again? Will a resurgent Congress surpass its own tally? What about the independents? And if they get elected, who will they back? 

"I have never seen such anger against any party, the way it was against the BJP. People wanted to punish the party leaders for taking them for a ride," said Velingkar, who damaged the image of top BJP leaders more than anyone else this election year.

Velingkar's anger towards the BJP is understandable, but does he have a point?

What went wrong for BJP? 

The government's slew of schemes and doles may have earned solid support but anger against the party was strong elsewhere. BJP's backtracking on some key issues ranging from special status and recovery of illegal mining loot to unemployment doles of Rs 4,500 per month and zero tolerance to corruption irked voters, poll watchers say. Demonetization, despite official bravado, was also a factor, particularly in rural areas.

"Polling day was payback time for the common man who suffered miserably. We had to stand in queues instead of going to work and even then we were unsure of withdrawing Rs 2,000. Worse still, the government said people didn't suffer and tourism was not affected," a voter said.

MGP leader and chief ministerial candidate, Ramkrishna 'Sudin' Dhavalikar, also appeared to have had enough of the BJP. "We had never seen such arrogance of their workers," he said. 

Strategic voting

Strategic voting too is not ruled out in some constituencies. Voters who earlier didn't have any love for the Congress eventually voted for the 'Hand' because they didn't want BJP in power. Ditto with extreme right-wing voters, who were inclined towards the MGP-GSM combine but put their trust in the 'Lotus', though on a smaller scale, in a clear attempt to keep Congress - with MGP backing - away.

Read the full article: HERE

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