Despite united front, strains emerge in INDIA bloc on South Goa campaign

Cong, AAP, GF vie for dominance in Salcete, each safeguarding its turf; parties display party affiliations while supporting alliance candidate during campaign

Despite united front, strains emerge in INDIA bloc on South Goa campaign

As Captain Viriato Fernandes kicked off his campaign for the South Goa seat, the INDIA bloc has put up a façade of unity behind the Congress nominee, but the journey so far hasn’t been hassle-free for the alliance partners as they go into a huddle to tie all loose ends, especially along the road in politically significant Salcete where the Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and the Goa Forward have high stakes.

Take note, each of these political parties have their own areas of influence and support base in Salcete and have been eyeing for the same political space. While these parties have come together under the banner of INDIA bloc to keep the BJP at bay, it is evident on the ground that these parties have been moving with caution, not letting the others to encroach on its territory or concede any space.

In fact, it’s not uncommon to find members of these parties attired in their respective party names and symbols at programmes in support of the alliance candidate.

Otherwise, consider this. Benaulim Assembly segment represented by Aam Aadmi Party MLA Venzy Viegas is a case in point. Perhaps the AAP Benaulim MLA was the first alliance partner to hit the roads in support of INDIA candidate. Congress leaders in private sounded uneasy when they found there was no mention of Congress candidate during the campaign.

Incidentally, Benaulim Assembly segment has witnessed a host of political activity on the ground coinciding with the entry of the Congress candidate Capt Viriato Fernandes in the AAP’s territory. In fact, it’s a sheer coincidence that the AAP MLA went about inducting a large number of people into the party fold from Colva and Benaulim villages around the same time when Congress leaders had just opened their election office in Benaulim.

In neighbouring Velim, again represented by AAP MLA Cruz Silva, many an eyebrow were raised when the Velim AAP MLA called the sarpanchas, deputy sarpanchas besides panchayat members on one platform to extend support to the INDIA candidate Capt Viriato.

The meeting between the AAP MLA and the sarpanchas of Velim Assembly segment came at a time when the Congress kicked off Capt Viriato’s campaign in Chinchinim, a village in Velim segment, without INDIA bloc banners and leaders, raising a host of questions amongst the alliance partners.

In fact, when the Congress juggernaut rolled into Salcete earlier this week, alliance partners in private questioned why they were not taken on board or in the loop before the major alliance partner went about the poll campaign.

Congress insiders, on the other hand, tried to assuage ruffled feathers by pointing out that the party hasn’t yet kick started the campaign, and what the party has gone about so far is to just mobilise and enthuse the party rank and file in support of Capt Viriato.

Incidentally, the Congress workers meeting in Fatorda, the fiefdom of Goa Forward chief on Friday, sources said, did not go down well with the Goa Forward party leadership, as they tried to figure out why the regional party was not informed about the Congress workers meeting in the constituency.

A Goa Forward leader in private pointed out that they expect the Congress to work in close tandem with the alliance partners to avoid any confusion amongst the rank and file of the political parties. “We are all united under the INDIA bloc banner to defeat the BJP in the May 7 election. However, we have been trying to tie loose ends so that the alliance not only puts up a façade of unity, but works on the ground as a cohesive unit,” remarked the Goa Forward leader.

That the alliance partners were scheduled to go into another round of huddle during the weekend to sort out teething issues is an indication that leaders of the INDIA bloc were keen to resolve the issues before they all hit the campaign in support of the alliance candidate.

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