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How to make enemies & anger people: BJP seems to be losing the plot in Goa

Sameer Chougaonkar | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:41 IST

The decision to shift Manohar Parrikar to Delhi and hand over the baton of power to Laxmikant Parsekar did not bode well for the BJP in Goa. The emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and rebellion of the former RSS Goa chief Subhash Velingkar has only worsened matters for the saffron party in the coastal state.

To add to its woes, several segments of Goa's society are apparently not happy with the state government. While the RSS is miffed because its leaders feel the state party unit (the BJP) has gone back on its commitments to organisation's core concerns, new supporters of the party are alienated as the government is no longer consulting them on its rural development plans.

Unfulfilled promises

The anger of Goa's middle class stems from the fact that the government has not fulfilled its promise of shifting four floating casinos from the Mandovi river to other locations.

The common masses of Goa are also outraged as the BJP government has not kept its word to bring the culprits of Rs 16,000 crore mining scam to book. On the contrary, it has lifted the ban on mining imposed in March 2015.

The taxi drivers are not happy with the government's move to introduce digital meters and the stiff competition they are getting from the rent-a-car services.

The fishermen community feels disappointed that the government did not come to its aid in an agitation against indiscriminate LED fishing and bull trawling.

The BJP had successfully fought the 2012 Assembly elections in coalition with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), highlighting the alleged corruption during the previous Congress government. The party had managed to win 24 seats in 40-member Assembly.

However, now there are speculations that MGP might sever ties with the party just before the next state elections and tie up with Velingkar's Bhartiya Bhasha Suraksha Sangh (BBSS) instead.

Although, the Union Minister and party-in-charge for Goa elections, Nitin Gadkari, has sought to dispel such possibilities.

Velingkar's revolt

The unsettled dispute between the Goa government and the RSS emanates from a decision made by the MGP government in 1990. It had decided to provide a special grant to Konkani and Marathi medium schools. As a result, 126 English medium schools - most of them run by Christian organisations - had turned into Konkani medium institutions overnight. The same policy had continued till 2011.

However, the Congress government led by Digambar Kamat decided to include English medium schools in its aid programme. The 126 schools decided to change course and once again adopt English again as the medium of education.

The RSS and BJP launched a mass movement against the decision. The agitation was spearheaded by Velingkar and Parrikar was his chief lieutenant.

Velingkar laid the foundation of Bhartiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch to press for the demand that the government should revoke aid to the English medium institutions that deserted Marathi and Konkani languages.

BJP raised the issue during the 2012 Vidhan Sabha polls. The political astuteness shown by Parrikar coupled with his campaign for good governance won the support of a large number of Christians as well.

But, Parrikar backtracked from his promise to cancel subsidy to English medium schools after coming to power. Soon, this became a bone of contention between him and Velingkar. The latter persisted with the issue even after Parrikar was replaced by Parsekar as the chief minister.

However, Parsekar refused to take any decision without Parrikar's approval resulting in Velingkar's open revolt and his announcement to challenge the party in the next elections.

According to political analysts, BJP might lose at least seven to eight seats in the northern parts of the state that sends 21 legislatures to the Assembly. The Shiv Sena has also extended its support to Velingkar's party.

Mining scam led to the Congress ouster from power

The Christians had voted en masse for the BJP in 2012. Earlier, they were against the party ever since Parrikar had proposed to exclude Good Friday from the list of government holidays in 2002.

The proposal never came to fruition. Nevertheless, the Catholic community was not amused with Parrikar's idea.

This grudge was overshadowed by the massive mining scam during the Congress rule. The Congress-NCP combine scored a self-goal by fielding a large number of candidates who had allegedly benefitted from the scam.

Almost 40% of Congress tickets were allocated to the tainted candidates belonging to Rane, Madkaikar, Naik and Montserrat community. Desperate voters booted out the Congress from power and five Catholic candidates from BJP reached the Vidhan Sabha.

AAP as a strong alternative

Many analysts feel that the Catholic community might support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the next elections. The sources claim that the party has already started preparations to bring the community in to its fold.

Kejriwal had gone to the Vatican to attend the canonisation ceremony of Mother Teresa. The AAP leader had also held a closed-door meeting with the representatives of the Catholic community.

The Christians constitute around 25% of the state's population and their support could turn the tables in AAP's favour.

First published: 14 November 2016, 6:47 IST