The ruling BJP Monday swept polls to two zilla panchayat bodies in Goa, winning 33 of the 42 seats contested, while the Congress could win only one of the 38 seats fought by the party. Applauding Goans for voting despite a pandemic, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that “people have shown faith in us”.
With the ruling party facing a trust deficit with protests shaping across the state against several infrastructure projects and policy decisions, BJP has calculated the victory as a nod for these projects.
State BJP president Sadanand Tanavade said, “There were many agitations which were constantly up on social media regarding the power, double tracking and coal transportation…all NGOS, political parties which initiated these protests tried to defame the government. The result is a slap on their faces and a certificate of appreciation to BJP.”
“The result shows the faith of farmers, labourers, merchants, women and youth in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant,” said C T Ravi, National General Secretary for BJP and also in-charge of Goa.
Addressing the media in Delhi, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said repeated election victories point to popular support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi over a host of issues, including agricultural reforms and the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. “The poor, rural regions and farmers form the spine of this country. These results would not have been possible without their support,” Patra said, adding that the results have shown that people, including farmers, stand with Modi because he is their true “well-wisher”.
Another aspect of the polls which cannot be ignored by legacy parties like BJP or Congress is the rise of independents this year — a total of seven seats were won by Independents.
Meanwhile, conceding defeat, Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar said a “deep analysis” will be done on the results. “We failed to convince people that we are changing. They feel that if they vote to Congress, then their vote will go to BJP as in past our MLAs defected,” he said. “We failed to weed out this perception from people’s minds… We respect their dissent and vow to change.”
While counting went on till late, the figures released by the state election commission said 4.50 lakh voters cast ballots out of 7,91,814 eligible voters. “I humbly bow down before the people of Goa for the trust they have reposed in the Bharatiya Janata Party as well as the Govt of Goa working under my leadership. Let us shape a glorious and Swayampurna [self-reliant] Goa by taking ahead the same trust and confidence,” Sawant tweeted.
The voting, which was held on December 12, also saw AAP and regional party MGP not making much inroads either, with MGP winning 4 seats and AAP just one. The one seat the AAP won in south Goa is also its first in an election in Goa, where the last one month has seen the Arvind Kejriwal party pushing debates in local media on the promise of free electricity.
With Sawant as the Chief Minister since 2019, the state has been grappling with issues of unemployment, impasse in the Mhadhei water dispute with Karnataka, and no signs of mining operations resuming. Sawant called this election as the “test” for his government.
“Normally a party in power manages local bodies’ poll results. When the party looses local bodies elections it a clear signal the party is out. In Goa the ruling party has backing of about 29 MLAs. But the performance of Congress is miserable. People did not have a properly managed alternative. They failed to harvest the decline of BJP. Large number of independents show the failure. With all bravado AAP is again a non starter,” said Cleofat Coutinho Almeida, political commentator.