Elections

Goa divided between Cong and BJP; both have image problem

Nandana James Panaji | Updated on April 21, 2019 Published on April 21, 2019

Congress is seen as corrupt and BJP communal

Biju Balan, 39, a Keralite who has been in Goa for 10 years, is amused that there doesn’t seem to be much of an election frenzy in the State — a far cry from what’s happening back home.

“We were jokingly asking how many Assembly seats they have, and most Goans don’t even know that. Even I am not aware who is contesting from here,” he shrugs.

Sharp divisions

But there are a few exceptions who don’t mince words. Goa goes to the polls on Tuesday and it seems that people are divided. The absence of the late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is also being felt.

Some perceive the Congress to be good for harmony in the State where Hindus, Muslims and Christians have peacefully coexisted. Others support the BJP for its focus on infrastructure development.

Read More: In Goa, the mining ban weighs heavily on elections

Felix Gonsalves, 48, who owns a stall at the SGPDA fish market in South Goa, recalls the BJP’s talk about ending holidays for Good Friday and St Francis Xavier’s feast, and also the difficulties after demonetisation and GST. It is dividing the people on the basis of religion, he said bitterly, referring to the party’s stand against consumption of beef.

“The BJP wants to divide people,” he said. He is more inclined towards the Congress and feels that 75 per cent of people in South Goa would support the party.

“The Congress is better for the common man. They don’t create divisions among people. I will definitely vote for the Congress,” he says.

‘Peaceful State’

Narendra Sawaikar, sitting MP from South Goa, doesn’t agree.

Asked about the BJP’s Hindutva-leaning policies in Goa, he points out the party was in power in the State from October 2000 to February 2005 and later from 2012 until now. Further, it has Catholic MLAs too.

“Goa is basically a peaceful State. All people, irrespective of the caste, creed and religion, have beenliving in harmony here.

“The people have also appreciated that the BJP government has been treating everyone equally. I feel that the people have a lot of trust in the BJP government,” he added.

‘BJP is communal’

But this doesn’t seem to resonate with everyone. The owner of a popular restaurant in South Goa said, on condition of anonymity, that “The BJP is going communal. That’s disgusting.” While he is leaning towards the Congress, he feels it should be wiser about the kind of candidates it fields.

Others support the BJP. Neyza, 49, who sells dry fish and pickle at the SGPDA market, said she would vote for Modi. “Everything that he did has been good for the people,” she said. Is the Hindutva appeal of the BJP a matter of concern for her? No, it doesn’t make a difference to her.

‘Congress corruption’

Neeva, her customer, chipped in, “In Goa, the BJP has done a lot of good things, not the Congress,” adding that the Congress in Goa is mired in corruption.

Also read: Congress’ temple run in North Goa

A 56-year-old woman buying groceries at a stall in the Panjim market also agreed. She said Brahmins would vote for the BJP. The shopkeeper, with whom she was bantering a minute ago, is also a BJP supporter. Both of them scoff at the Congress and its “corruption” when asked about the party’s prospects.

However, the customer noted, “Going forward, a man like Manohar Parrikar would be hard to find.”

Published on April 21, 2019
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