Tuesday 18 Jun 2024

Capt Viriato's 'Constitution' remark potent weapon in BJP's armoury for South Goa Lok Sabha battle

Capt Viriato's 'Constitution' remark potent weapon in BJP's armoury for South Goa Lok Sabha battle

Will the constitution remark by Congress candidate Captain Viriato Fernandes help the BJP juggernaut to make deep inroads into the South Goa constituency?

Photo Credits: The Goan

Till Monday, it appeared that the BJP, whether inadvertently or by design, had relegated all contentious issues, including the demolition of temples during the Portuguese rule, Viva Portugal, etc, raked up in the run-up to the 2022 Assembly elections, on the backburner in the ongoing Lok Sabha campaign for the South Goa seat.

Even political observers were quick to point out that BJP’s ploy may have been aimed at creating a feel-good factor amongst the minorities, wielding considerable influence across South Goa while focusing its campaign on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his achievements.

There’s another reason, observers say, that the BJP may not have raked up emotive and contentious issues – BJP's candidate Pallavi Dempo. It is believed in political circles that the BJP leadership may have been looking to capitalise on the goodwill generated by Brand Dempo, especially amongst the minority community, over Dempo’s close association with football.

It was late Monday midnight when ex-Navy Captain, Congress South Goa candidate Viriato Fernandes came under a barrage of fire from the saffron brigade over allegations of “insult” to the Indian constitution – sending indications loud and clear that that the South Goa constituency is bracing up for a no-holds-barred battle in the run-up to the May 7 Lok Sabha poll.

With less than a fortnight to go for the polls, the BJP’s agenda appears clear and simple – making optimum use of the “constitution” remark as an armament to paint the Congress candidate as one who does not respect the Indian Constitution in an apparent bid to wean back its disenchanted workers and polarise its traditional vote, especially in the hinterland areas of South Goa.

No doubt, the BJP leaders have so far restricted their attack on Captain Viriato and the Congress party, but political commentators in private say the issue may just go out of control going by the intense debates on social media and outside.

Otherwise, consider this. If the issue took centre stage at the national and State level, with the BJP top brass, right up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, exploiting the issue to turn the tables on the Congress, State party leaders have now got down to the task of taking the issue down to the entire South Goa constituency.

This became apparent on Wednesday by a host of media briefings in the South Goa constituency, right from Mormugao taluka down to Margao, culminating in the filing of a complaint against Captain Viriato at the Colva police station on Wednesday noon.

That the BJP drafted party leaders Atish Naik and Giriraj Pai Raikar to the party office in Margao and also deputed party's Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar to the Colva police station to lodge a police complaint, coupled with the fact that a group of people under the banner of Indian Tiger Organization held a protest outside the Lohia Maidan, Margao to condemn Captain Viriato, indicates the BJP’s anxiety to take the issue to the grassroots, especially in some of the hinterland areas where the ongoing campaign has not gained momentum.

Political observers say the BJP may run the risk of reverse polarisation of the minorities towards the Congress candidate. The BJP, observers say, however, may take taken a calculated risk to help pave the way for the party to retain its stranglehold over the hinterland areas to keep the Lotus in good stead in the May 7 election.

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