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Wednesday, 7 March 2012

BJP gets Goa Catholic vote PAMELA D’MELLO



BJP gets Goa Catholic vote

PAMELA D'MELLO
Panaji, March 6: The Congress's worst performance since first coming to power in Goa in 1980 has translated into the BJP's best showing here, giving the party a simple majority of 21 seats in the 40-member House.
Although the BJP has yet to make a formal announcement, it will most likely choose Panaji legislator Manohar Parrikar as chief minister. Outgoing chief minister Digamber Kamat resigned immediately after the Congress failed to touch double figures, stopping at nine.
The BJP's victory is being attributed to a 20 per cent swing in the Catholic vote. The party's strategy of fielding six Catholic candidates and supporting three Independents paid off in the fight against Congress candidates representing the community. All six won, as did two of the Independents.
"The minorities have stood firm by the BJP this time. We gave them a good share of the tickets and went out of our way to include every caste and community, taking all sections with us," Parrikar told The Telegraph.
He said people had "voted to save Goa" and that the Congress had lost credibility. "For us, the best part is that we were able to overcome the minority distrust of the BJP," he added.
The BJP had pulled out all its hardline outfits, including the Hindu Janajagruti, from overt public activity months ahead of the poll as part of a strategy to portray itself as a party for every community. Leaders known to be hardliners were not part of the Goa campaign at any stage of the election process.
The Congress blamed its rout on the Opposition's strategy rather than its own failures when it was in government. "The Opposition created a wave through its unprecedented use of the media," said Congress leader Ravi Naik, one of the big losers.
On the swing in the Catholic vote towards the BJP, Naik said: "It is a worry for Goa and they (Catholics) will learn very soon what they have opted for."
A relentless campaign to catapult corruption as the key issue and the Congress its chief perpetrator saw eight ministers of the erstwhile Congress-led government bite the dust.
Outgoing chief minister Kamat retained his Margao Assembly segment, but PWD minister Churchill Alemao and his brother Joaquim Alemao, also a minister, lost their seats in the once impregnable Congress bastion.
The Alemao siblings, who had fielded a daughter and a son respectively on Congress and NCP tickets in the face of flak for seeking to foist a "family-raj regime" on Goa, didn't win either.
Several other Congress heavyweights lost, including Dayanand Narvekar and former chief minister Wilfred de Souza. The lone ranger was Pratapsing Rane, a Congress chief minister for 17 years. He retained his Poriem seat for a tenth Assembly term. Rane's minister son Vishwajit won in Valpoi.
Vishwajit's insistence on tickets for some last-minute defectors from the BJP, however, cost the Congress dearly. Two rebel Congress candidates who contested as Independents in these seats emerged victorious.
Jennifer Monserrate of the Congress will be the lone woman in the Assembly this term. She won the Taleigao seat, while husband Atanasio won in neighbouring Santacruz.
In most constituencies, the battle was between the two candidates representing the main parties. Others in the fray, including the Trinamul Congress, barely earned votes beyond the hundreds.

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  • BJP gets Goa Catholic vote 
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