The political heat is on in Goa

The Lok Sabha elections are just weeks away, but candidates are still undecided, giving voters little time to decide
GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.Photo: Gomantak Times

The rising Goan summer temperatures are going to heat up the political cauldron quite a bit, as the Lok Sabha elections are just weeks away.

The announcement of the election schedule is expected this week, and with that, the political parties are going to move up their politicking several notches, so prepare for the heat.

Goa, a dot on the map of India, has just two seats in the 543 strong Lok Sabha, almost insignificant, but it’s not just the size of the State that decides this, but also the population.

GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
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Goa, therefore, with a population of a little over 1.5 million, does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.

Two seats are numerically too small to make a huge difference in the count in the Lok Sabha, unless the elections results come close, but these two seats are very important for Goa.

The last election saw the seats being shared by the BJP and the Congress, and rather many pressing issues of Goa were not taken up by the MPs, or were perfunctorily addressed.

Goa, with a population of a little over 1.5 million, does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.

Goa, therefore requires MPs who will speak out in New Delhi and be heard. Do we have such candidates?

Historically, these two seats have shown a leaning towards a particular formation, and except for certain exceptions, the North Goa seat has alternated between the MGP and the Congress until the BJP wrested it in 1999 and held onto it since then, while the South Goa seat has gone to the UGP and then to the Congress, with the BJP winning a couple of times.

GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
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Will the constituencies play out as they have historically done, or will the exceptions occur again in 2024?

The opposition in Goa, with the exception of the regional Revolutionary Goans party (RG), has united under the INDIA banner to field Congress candidates in both seats to take on the NDA’s BJP.

It is pertinent to note that Goa could be one of the few states – if not the only – that will see a direct contest between the NDA and the INDIA.

The result in Goa could, therefore, help understand how such alliances could work out pan India. It may not deliver a definite answer, but could provide the basis for future use.

It does make political sense for the opposition to back the Congress in Goa as it is the only party with a pan Goa presence, and that has the possibility of winning at least one, if not both, seats.  

GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
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In North Goa, the advantage, at the time of writing, is with the BJP that has already declared its candidate, none other than sitting MP, Shripad Naik, who will be seeking a 6th straight term in the Lok Sabha.

The advantage in the South Goa seat is with the Congress, that though it is yet to zero in on a candidate, has traditionally done well here and the backing of the AAP and GFP gives it an edge.

GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
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Until the candidates are announced, it is difficult to get an idea of what awaits the State in the elections. Other than BJP’s Naik in North Goa, there is the RG’s Manoj Parab who will be on the ballot.

Congress is still to finalise its candidate, but among the aspirants is Ramakant Khalap, who won the seat 28 years ago in 1996. Can he make a comeback as a candidate and eventual winner?

It does make political sense for the opposition to back the Congress in Goa as it is the only party with a pan Goa presence,

RG, in this election, appears to be in the fray more to test its strength than win. Two years ago, it made its debut in the State Legislative Assembly elections and garnered 6 percent of the vote and won a seat.

For the party, the Lok Sabha election could become a deciding factor, as if it fails to retain that vote share and falls below it, then its future comes under question.

GAME ON: Goa does not qualify for more than two seats under the existing guidelines for constituency delimitation.
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The South Goa seat is even more open. No party has zeroed in on any candidates, and the aspirants are many. For a few days, BJP even toyed with the idea of fielding a woman candidate in the constituency but that plan appears to have now been shelved.

It now appears that Sanyogita Rane will continue to remain as the only woman MP that Goa has had.

We will need to wait a few more days before there is clarity on who will be on the ballot in these polls.

But, why shouldn’t the political parties decide candidates in advance so that the voters get the opportunity to decide who to vote for in calm?

In the heat of electioneering, issues are often muddled up and an enlightened decision is then not possible. Is it that for the parties only winning matters? Shouldn’t the people be given a fair time to make a decision?

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