Advantage BJP? Allegiance shifts tilt electoral balance in South Goa

Advantage BJP? Allegiance shifts tilt electoral balance in South Goa

Congress-turned-BJP leaders Digambar Kamat and Chandrakant Kavlekar during a Lok Sabha campaign programme of BJP’s South Goa candidate Pallavi Dempo, alongside Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Photo Credits: The Goan

Politics is dynamic, they say. Come elections and it’s not uncommon to find politicians changing parties and switching allegiances. In fact, do not be surprised to find politicos, who had backed a particular candidate or party in the last election, sitting on the other side of the fence in the next one.

Welcome to South Goa where the battle lines for the Lok Sabha seat are taking shape between arch-political rivals -- the Congress and the BJP. And, so are the local satraps taking poll positions ahead of the May 7 electoral battle.

A look at the emerging political scenario in South Goa reveals the changing ground reality in the Lok Sabha constituency. Regional parties such as the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which played a decisive role in the defeat of the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, are now part of the ruling combine. And, the Goa Forward Party which had supported the BJP, at least officially in 2019 given its status as a member of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is now a member of the INDIA opposition bloc. Similarly, several local satraps, especially from Salcete, have changed sides since the 2019 Lok Sabha election. A report.

MGP-BJP tie-up

The Madkai Assembly segment, represented by MGP supremo Ramakrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar, had come in the way of the Lotus blooming again in South Goa in the 2019 Look Sabha elections.

In hindsight, the BJP top brass must have regretted the decision to drop Dhavalikar from the Pramod Sawant Cabinet in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls. Reason: The BJP almost retained the South Goa seat in 2019 before Madkai spoiled the party for the saffron brigade when the constituency voted for the Congress.

Five years down the line, the MGP is back in alliance with the BJP. And, so is party supremo Sudin Dhavalikar in the Cabinet. Against this backdrop, the BJP must be hoping for a turnaround in Madkai and other MGP strongholds for the party in 2024. The Dhavalikar brothers, Sudin and Deepak, have welcomed BJP candidate Pallavi Dempo by extending full backing for her candidature.

Goa Forward Party

In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) was not just a member of the BJP-led NDA alliance, but the party of three MLAs, including party chief Vijai Sardesai were members of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s Cabinet.

Though it still is a subject of debate in political circles whether Sardesai had worked for the BJP candidate or not, the GFP chief had officially addressed an NDA meeting at the Lohia Maidan ahead of the 2019 election. Much water, however, has flown down the river Sal since 2019 after Sardesai and his two ministerial colleagues were unceremoniously dropped from the Cabinet.

As of now, Sardesai has attended the meetings of the Opposition alliance to defeat the BJP. His rider that the party would not support sitting MP Francisco Sardinha if the Congress re-nominates the four-time MP has, however, raised doubts over GFP's stand in the upcoming polls.

Former chief minister Digambar Kamat

The former Congress chief minister was the convenor of the Congress campaign for the South Goa seat in the 2019 election. Digambar Kamat was not only the star campaigner for the Congress in his fiefdom, Margao, but also made his presence felt elsewhere in the constituency.

Post his September 14, 2022 defection, Kamat is now part of the ruling BJP. If there is one BJP leader who is accompanying BJP candidate Pallavi Dempo across the constituency, it is the Margao MLA, who is seen crisscrossing the constituency to drum up support for the candidate fighting on the lotus symbol.

Ex-Dy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar

The former Quepem MLA, who was a strong contender for the BJP South Goa ticket before losing out in the race to Pallavi Dempo, has joined the party campaign. While addressing Quepem karyakartas at Balli last week, Kavlekar recalled how he and his supporters had given a lead to Francisco Sardinha when he was in the Congress. The former Congress MLA had switched to the BJP in 2019 along with nine other MLAs to become the State’s deputy chief minister.

Cong-turned-BJP leader Joe Dias

Hailing from the Velim constituency, Joe was not only the South Goa District Congress chief but was the election agent of the Congress South Goa candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. He and his team had coordinated the campaign for Sardinha from the district party office in the 2019 polls. Miffed over being sidelined for the Congress ticket from Velim in the 2022 Assembly polls, Joe recently quit the Congress to embrace the BJP.

Agriculture Minister Ravi Naik

The former chief minister was another prominent Congress leader who worked for the party candidate Sardinha in the 2019 LS election. A leader from the Bhandari Samaj, Ravi left the Congress to join the BJP before the 2022 Assembly polls. He now holds the Agriculture portfolio in the Pramod Sawant cabinet.

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