When BJP lived up to women quota but ignored karyakartas

| MARCH 26, 2024, 01:00 AM IST

The BJP has finally ended the suspense by naming noted industrialist Pallavi Dempo as the party’s nominee for the South Goa seat on Sunday evening. The announcement was greeted by scorn with leaders across the Opposition landscape reading it to be a choice of a corporate handpicking over grass-root workers who have been with the party through thick and thin.

Against the suspense that both BJP and Congress had built up over the past fortnight on naming the South Goa candidate, with the Congress’ North Goa candidate seemingly lost in the discussion, the saffron party’s strategic switch from the predictable script of choosing between former MP Narendra Sawaikar and former Quepem MLA Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar has created a flutter.

Understandably, both the initial BJP contenders fell out after the party surveys were inconclusive on the winnability factor leaving the party leadership with a belated task of scouting for a third alternative which had the financial muscle, acceptability and ability to weather the electoral storm. Given all the parameters needed to chug along the Lok Sabha track, probably Pallavi fitted the bill better, although it comes at the cost of trampling on other women aspirants who have been loyal foot soldiers.

The BJP has nonetheless managed to hold on to the narrative of women empowerment once considered a farce, and probably Chief Minister Pramod Sawant going overboard to explain that the party has given 50 per cent representation against the proposed 33 per cent explains it all. But the question here is whether the BJP can insulate itself from an adverse fallout because there are layers of discontent simmering underneath.

Sawant may have hit a reconciliatory note by saying that all aspirants backed the candidature of Pallavi, but that remained far from convincing because the absence of Sawaikar and Kavlekar at the announcement event left a vacuum that defeated the theory of cohesiveness. A parallel thought is the BJP having mastered the art of political management would not leave any stone unturned to rope in both the aspirants to complete the photo frame.

Nonetheless, the move to scout for an influential woman

candidate makes better electoral sense for the BJP. Firstly, in South Goa, women outnumber men with a count of 5,95,070 votes, leading men in 18 out of the 20 segments. Overall, the electoral roll shows that women outnumber men by 18,575 votes. There is a disclaimer to this that statistics do not indicate that women will vote exclusively for women candidates.

Secondly, Pallavi has a mighty industrial support to back her up, a factor that could be decisive when it comes to outreach and campaign fatigue. The other women candidates may have been loyal and committed to the party, but they lacked the bandwidth needed for a Lok Sabha elections and could have been easy targets for the Opposition.

The BJP appears to have got its mojo back in South Goa. Pallavi’s announcement comes as a brave and smart move that is going to raise the confidence of the saffron brigade and with it the stakes of winning.

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