The after-effects of BJP first list of 34 candidates were being felt on Friday as Utpal Parrikar and a few other leaders quit the party to contest as Independents justifying the theory that party affiliations and ideologies are a myth in this election.
Laxmikant Parsekar, Utpal Parrikar, Isidore Fernandes, Vinod Palienkar and Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar's wife Savitri Kavlekar have lined up to contest as Independents, and fight the very party which they were part of all this while. This could be catastrophic for the BJP and can undo a lot of their strategizing because these Independents will cut into BJP votes and eventually jeopardize the electoral math.
For example, in Panaji, Utpal will eat into the vote share of Atanasio Monserrate possibly giving an advantage to the Congress nominee Elvis Gomes. In Mandrem too, Parsekar could play spoilsport to Dayanand Sopte's prospects. Isidore, who was at the forefront during the current BJP regime, will surely challenge Ramesh Tawadkar, and in Sanguem, Subhash Phaldesai will find the going tough against BJP-turned-Independent candidate Savitri who had made vast inroads into the constituency.
Defections from Congress and the MGP may have helped the BJP government to propel itself, but there's a price to pay. If the defectors merged themselves in the BJP, they would certainly expect to be treated as equals, not outsiders. On this count, the BJP must own the blame for being short-sighted, and failing to assess the larger implications. Leaders from other parties have cushioned themselves in the BJP and nurtured hopes of a new political career, without realising that their stint in the BJP has a shelf-life.
On the flip side, the BJP central leadership, so far, has done remarkably well in fire-fighting, and from time to time, managed to douse the flames of rebellion. Outspoken Calangute MLA and ex-minister in the Cabinet Michael Lobo, Laxmikant Parsekar and Utpal Parrikar have in the past occasionally gone public expressing their displeasure with party decisions, and the party has handled them well.
The BJP, however, faces a different challenge this time. In a high-voltage election, aspiring candidates across the political spectrum have shown intolerance to decisions against them and turned hostile. Candidates falling out of favour have overnight changed parties only to be rewarded with tickets elsewhere. Some have changed multiple parties in a month, and a few others have run out of options.
The BJP is believed to have weighed all its options before announcing candidates. The party's plan to go with winnability is a strategic move given the backlash it faced in recent times. The realisation has dawned on the BJP that it is in no position to experiment with new faces if it has to touch the magic figure. The question is whether it can save the situation and stabilise itself. It is to be seen how the party moves to face the biggest dilemma before the real electoral test begins.