Not too long ago, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was enigma to a sizeable chunk of the Goan populace. In its early days since it made its debut in the Goa legislative assembly back in 1994, we had both its top leaders then -- late Manohar Parrikar and Union Minister Shripad Naik -- spend hours and hours with us journos at the press room in the Old Secretariat, trying to convince us that the BJP in Goa is not hardcore like the BJP in the rest of India. Indeed over the following years, the BJP in Goa did try a few experiments to show itself different from the parent. Giving large number of tickets to ‘Catholic’ candidates etal. But while it did that, they lost no opportunity to flaunt its core ideology off and on to keep its core constituency intact, the film on Goa’s freedom struggle in the early 2000s, the aborted bid to cancel the ‘Good Friday’ and St Francis Xavier Feast holiday among a few examples. Earlier this week, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant who whispers tell us is at cross-hairs with the RSS unit in Goa over the inclusion of a large number of minority members in his cabinet, got the opportunity to flaunt his Hindutva credentials. And boy, he latched on to it!
“Ram rajya is already here since 2014,” Sawant thundered at one of the halts the Santha Samiti’s Digvijaya Rath Yatra made in Goa. The yatra being taken out as a branding exercise for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya made a pit stop in Goa and Sawant and a band of his ministers joined it. Sawant in his speech at that event was at pains to explain that every “bold step” taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi since he took over reigns in 2014 were aimed at ensuring Ram Rajya. “When the pandemic hit, Modiji developed the vaccine which benefited not only India but many other countries. In the case of other pandemics of the past, polio for instance, it took 20 years for the vaccine to come,” Sawant said arguing that now under Modi the times of ram rajya are already being lived. It couldn’t have been a better opportunity for Sawant to assuage the hardliners within, especially when he is straddled with the task of juggling his cabinet team to accommodate the Congress entrants and could antagonise them more by inducting another ‘Catholic’ minister.