SOIRU VELIP | NT
An aggressive campaign for the prestigious and crucial Panaji by-election, scheduled to be held on May 19, has reached the final phase, which has been witnessing an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress party to pull the votes on their side.
The BJP, which appeared to be under pressure in the first phase of the campaign to retain the seat, seems to be more comfortable now compared to the last week, with an intensive exercise of meetings by targeting groups of voters, while Congress is making all efforts to take advantage of late Manohar Parrikar’s absence.
On the other hand, the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have also been making all efforts to woo the voters, although there is no clue how many votes these two parties could pull in favour of their candidates.
Though BJP was struggling initially in the absence of its tallest leader and former chief minister late Manohar Parrikar, the party has now managed to neutralise the situation and all efforts are being made through Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to bring back
the unhappy workers and supporters in favour of the party candidate Sidharth Kuncalienkar.
Chief Minister Sawant and BJP organising secretary Satish Dhond are holding one-to-one meetings with crucial voters from all sections of the society and making all efforts to ensure that the voters who rallied behind late Parrikar for the last two-and-half decades do not go away from the party.
As far as the Congress is concerned, it appears that its candidate Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate has more confidence in a team of his own supporters rather than the party. It has been evident during the last two weeks that Congress party has been campaigning in the capital city with its MLAs and office bearers separately, while Babush has been canvassing from door to door with his own men.
Candidate of GSM Subhash Velingkar’s presence has put pressure on the BJP camp even as the party leaders are denying the same. However, there are chances of some BJP supporters’ votes moving away from the party, as they are still unhappy over denial of ticket to Utpal, son of Parrikar.
Valmiki Naik, candidate of AAP, has been trying to interact with the voters in person as well as through the social media. And, more importantly, he has a good reputation among the Catholic voters which could cause ‘damage’ to Babush.
Though BJP feels a vacuum due to Parrikar’s absence during this bypoll, one cannot deny the fact that the sympathy wave for the former chief minister has been diluted and corruption charges against the ruling party in Smart City projects and character assassination of the Congress candidate over criminal cases have taken the front seat.
As per political analysts, the voters from Ribandar and Mala will be the deciding factor in the victory of the winning candidate and it is apparent that both, BJP and Congress have been putting in more efforts in these areas to gain as much as possible.
An exercise of social engineering through meetings by Chief Minister Sawant with a group of youngsters, businessmen, professionals, market venders besides various communities has been gaining momentum.
Congress candidate Babush has adopted his own strategy for campaigning in the capital city, while the party workers along with state party chief Girish Chodankar and other MLAs are covering the campaign by visiting each household separately.
All candidates have made big promises through their election manifestos including developmental works, shifting of the offshore casino vessels from River Mandovi, providing employment etc.
As campaign for the bypoll comes to an end at 5 pm on Friday, the political observers feel that the last two days will be crucial in the capital city as BJP wants to retain its seat at any cost after Parrikar and Congress sees hope in Babush to change the equation of state politics after May 23.
Though Panaji has been considered to be one of the educated voter assembly constituencies in the state, there is a sizeable number of voters that belongs to middle-class families and they have their own problems, which are not yet resolved.