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ZP elections a litmus test for BJP

Panaji: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which will be fielding candidates on its Lotus symbol at the forthcoming Zilla Panchayat (ZP) election, would also be supporting like-minded “winnable” independent candidates in order to prove its superiority at this poll, post Manohar Parrikar regime.

This is the first election the BJP is contesting after the passing away of Parrikar. In addition, the 12 Congress MLAs including Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar, who had joined the BJP, will also have to prove their dominance over their respective constituencies, by getting the BJP’s ZP

candidates elected.  

Displaying caution, newly elected state BJP president Sadanand Tanawde has said that his party would not contest the forthcoming ZP elections in all 50 constituencies. “We will contest in some ZP constituencies on party symbol, while make adjustments in others with like-minded people,” he

had said.

The BJP has already started the process of selection of its ZP candidates from Saturday.

Incidentally, the previous ZP elections held in March 2015 had the BJP forging an alliance with Mickky Pacheco’s Goa Vikas Party (GVP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) of the Dhavalikar brothers. The results showed 25 independents winning the 2015 ZP polls, while the BJP-MGP-GVP combine collectively winning equal number of seats. Altogether, 18 candidates won on the BJP symbol, 5 on the MGP symbol, and 2 on the GVP symbol.

As the BJP-led alliance lost 50 per cent of the seats at 2015 ZP election, which had registered 66.43 per cent voter turnout, it made the then deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Francis D’Souza retort that “the party should examine the reasons for its alliance’s not-so-good performance in the particular polls.”

The forthcoming ZP election will witness the BJP and the MGP standing against each other as rivals. Looking at the performance of the independent candidates at the previous ZP election, one can easily predict that both the BJP and the MGP would be keen to support independent candidates in certain constituencies, apart from fielding candidates on their own party symbols.

At the 2015 ZP election, the BJP-MGP-GVP combine managed to win the South Goa ZP segment with a wafer-thin majority, while fell short of two seats for a majority in North Goa. This time, with mining, Mhadei and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act issues in the minds of the ZP voters, on one side, and the absence of any alliance partner, on the other, the BJP could find itself doing a trapeze act at the ZP election.  

During the previous ZP election, the GVP had managed to win two seats of Raia and Colva in Salcete taluka, while six Independents had emerged victorious in this taluka from Nuvem, Velim, Benaulim, Guirdolim, Curtorim and Navelim. The lone victorious BJP candidate in the Salcete taluka was from Davorlim constituency.

Although the state assembly election is nearly 24 months away, the forthcoming ZP election will clearly indicate the pulse of the voters in Goa and their political preferences.

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