27 May 2017 | Last updated 04:37 PM

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Parrikar’s role in Goa unenviable
CAMIL PARKHE | Sunday, 19 March 2017 AT 02:23 PM IST
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Finally, the BJP has formed a coalition government in Goa, albeit with reduced seats as compared to the previous house. This indicates that Manohar Parrikar, who has been sworn in as chief minister for the fourth term, will have a daunting task in retaining power for the full fiver-year term in the tiny state.

The fractured mandate in Goa has created problems for the two main political parties in the state, the BJP and the Congress. The defeat of Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and seven members of his Cabinet has served a big jolt for the BJP, which had been on a climbing graph in the state for over one-and-half decades. The BJP's strength in the House has been reduced from 21 to 13. The opposition Congress had won 17 seats, almost double of its tally in the previous House, and four seats more than the BJP.

The verdict has been shocking in many ways. Firstly, the mandate has thrown up many individual and group players, making it a challenge for the main parties to manage and keep together these smaller entities. The reduction in its numbers has forced BJP to reach out to the very persons and parties like the Maharashtratwadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party which it had bitterly fought against.

The new government faced the ire of people on the very day of the swearing-in when some people protested against the BJP for forming the government despite facing a poll debacle. The protesters were of the view that all those parties and independents who had joined the BJP in forming the government had been elected due to their anti-BJP plank, defeating BJP contestants. The complete U-turn by these parties had annoyed the protesters.

The Congress leadership too needs to take the blame for its lethargic approach in electing its legislature leader and taking the lead in staking claim for forming the government. This helped the BJP to outsmart the Congress.

Another shocking poll outcome has been the humiliating debacle of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The AAP was hoping to eat into the Catholic votes of both the BJP and the Congress, especially in south Goa, and win a sizable number of seats there. This party, which has managed to stand second in Punjab polls, has miserably failed to even open its account in Goa.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh breakaway group Goa Surakhsha Manch led by Subhash Velingkar has also drawn a blank. It had contested six seats. Velingkar had returned to the RSS fold just a few days before the poll results. Notably, Christians outnumber Hindus in ruling BJP.

In 2012 election, Parrikar had succeeded in social engineering, winning the faith of the Christian community in the state. Nearly all the Christians in Goa are Roman Catholics. The BJP had then won 21 seats and eight of these MLAs were Catholics. He had then appointed one of them, Francis D'Souza, as deputy chief minister. However, when Parrikar left the chief minister's post to take the defence minister's post in New Delhi, he preferred Laxmikant Parsekar as his successor. D'Souza had then publicly expressed disappointment.

Post 2017 polls, BJP's Catholic MLAs have outnumbered the Hindu MLAs; the party has seven Catholic MLAs and six Hindu MLAs. Eight Catholics had contested as BJP nominees and seven of them have won. All over the country, BJP has been referred to as a Hindu right wing political party but the party can take solace that this tag is not applicable at least in this state.
Significantly, in 2017, altogether 17 Catholics have been elected in the 40-member Goa Assembly. This is the record number of Catholic members elected to the House since the first assembly elections in Goa in 1963, held two years after the territory's liberation from Portugal. Before the assembly polls, deputy chief minister D'Souza had spoken of the possibility of a Catholic belonging to any political party becoming the chief minister. Goa has not seen a Catholic chief minister for the past 18 years although the Catholic population in this state is over 26 per cent.

Robert - Monday, 20 March 2017 AT 11:08 PM IST
CM Parrikar has returned to Goa, is a telling blow to the leadership crisis, to say the least. An efficient Home Minister sacrificed from Delhi for Goa CM, is mysterious. Congress can take heart, 17 seats is a good number. 2019 argues well for them. Catholic leaders actively participating is a welcome step. The Church and the Christian values of the gospel must percolate in Indian politics, which is full of corruption and nepotism.

James Mathew - Monday, 20 March 2017 AT 01:51 PM IST
Even as the Modi wave across the country has left other political parties to think and act fast, the sort of ‘demotion’ of Parrikar from Union to State shows BJP’s effort to leave no stone unturned to remain in power. The lethargy shown by the Congress to claim the government only shows a weak leadership and lack of foresight. If a one-man party of BJP can win states like UP, it is time for other parties to rethink their political strategies before they end up on paper.

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