Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

Divided opposition has won half the LS battle for BJP

| FEBRUARY 16, 2024, 11:59 PM IST

Aam Aadmi Party’s decision to throw their hat in the Lok Sabha poll ring and announce Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas as the INDIA block candidate came as a rude shock for the Congress which was, till now, playing a waiting game unsure of which way the alliance is going, and still unsure about their candidate for the crucial South Goa seat. While the AAP decision came as a major surprise to all, going by the body language, it seems to have rattled Congress the most.

Close on the heels of AAP making the announcement, sitting MP Francisco Sardinha called Arvind Kejriwal’s outfit the B team of the BJP, little realising that both parties are technically on talking terms elsewhere. And, the very next moment, the Congress announced that the party would contest both seats in the State. Interestingly, the BJP, which is moving very strategically, seems to be watching the fun from the sidelines with the understanding that AAP, Congress and RGP’s presence in South Goa would make its work much easier.

Lest we forget, the 2022 Assembly election comes as a grim reminder of vote-splits. The Revolutionary Goan Party, which was considered the underdog, emerged with a more-than-expected vote share and along with AAP and TMC cut deep into the Congress vote banks. The result clearly showed that a split in the secular vote helped the BJP in many constituencies.

The Lok Sabha elections, although different from an Assembly contest, throw similar dilemmas with RG and AAP already entering the fray. We could face a similar three-way vote split that could once again benefit the BJP. The only hiccup for the BJP is that two of its shortlisted candidates — Margao MLA Digambar Kamat and Canacona MLA Ramesh Tawadkar have spurned the offer and expressed themselves loud and clear. That leaves a possible choice between former Quepem MLA Babu Kavlekar who is a strong contender, and former MP and NRI commissioner Narendra Sawaikar.

It may be noted that Sawaikar lost the 2019 Lok Sabha Election by a margin of 15,268 votes, and the BJP may not be inclined to a re-match should Congress go with Sardinha. The prospect of Kavlekar getting a call appears bright, not only for the proximity he has shown with the high command but also with the confidence he has started his campaign.

BJP may be inclined to go with Kavlekar for his outreach in the hinterland areas coupled with an expectation of the new entrants Digambar and Alexio Sequeira doing the spade work in Salcete.

Back to the Opposition, lessons seem to have not been learnt from the miseries of the 2022 assembly elections, and political ambition and egos have once again blended into a lethal cocktail that is sure to kill the contest for the opposition. Under the current circumstances, the BJP may not even venture into wooing minorities because a divided opposition has done the trick for them.

Congress had the advantage of calling the shots because it has an MP in its ranks, but the downside is that the party lacks the acumen or the wherewithal to forge broader understanding across other parties for a unified candidate. The “each one for themselves” outlook does not bode well for electoral politics, especially when there is BJP on the other side of the fence waiting to strategically punch a scattered opposition out of the ring.

There is no point in crying over spilt milk once the elections are done and dusted. We saw opposition parties squabbling after the 2022 assembly defeat. There has to be a forethought over vote splitters and facilitators of the BJP because the postscript is meaningless in elections.

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