Could GFP and AAP be Kingmakers?
While BJP continues to show its strength in its pre-election rallies across various constituencies in Goa and Congress continues to limp to normalcy after an almost shameful drubbing in the Assembly Election 2012, the Vijai Sardesai-led Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Dr Oscar Rebello-led Aam Aadmi Party Goa (AAP-Goa) have been making serious in-roads in several constituencies in the state.
I am not a fan of Arvind Kejriwal and do not approve of his ‘dharna’ mode of politics but I certainly approve of some of the candidates AAP Goa has put forward and know for a fact that they are good, clean and committed ‘Towards a Better Goa’.
The only aspect of AAP Goa that completely annoys and disturbs me is to see the poster of the Delhi Chief Minister around the state.
Goa does not need to see faces of Narendra Modi, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Arvind Kejriwal on posters. Their job as far as Goa is concerned politically is to come, give ‘speeches laden with hope and promises’ and then forget about Goa and its people.
AAP Goa does not an Arvind Kejriwal’s face or a Manish Sisodia or that absolute entertaining political leader Dr Kumar Vishwas (who to me is akin to the comedian Raju Srivastav of the Indian television scene) on Goan posters or stages.
People will not vote for Kejriwal or Sisodia, they do not know about the people of Goa or nor do they care. To Kejriwal, Goa is just a footing for his national ambitions.
But if AAP Goa removes the Delhi face and starts promoting their candidates as individuals without crutches of Delhi leaders, then the people of Goa will lean more towards AAP Goa because they will connect with the good candidates because of their genuine intent for Goa.
A wonderful, intelligent and committed leader like Dr Oscar Rebello as a Chief Minister candidate would be a welcome change from the political puppets we have seeing so far, especially in the last two years.
Seeing candidates like Valmiki Naik, Elvis Gomes and Cecille Rodrigues in the Assembly would be inspiring for the common man and woman who want to make a difference.
AAP Goa like most national parties have decided to sing the ‘Special Status’ song to stir up a pro-Goa fervor amongst the people of Goa tilted towards AAP. Unfortunately, AAP seems to have forgotten that ‘Special Status’ as far as Goa is concerned is carrot that is only at a germination stage and nobody is interested in growing the carrot. Most parties will certainly show a picture of the carrot like AAP now and do nothing.
AAP Goa has also taken out a fight against casinos. Interestingly, the patriarch of AAP Goa – Dinesh Waghela – has had a sordid affair with casinos, something that almost ruined his life. So in that sense, the mission against casinos has a leader who has faced the ills of a casino addiction.
But AAP Goa has to focus on Goa and the strength of its people in the state to drive the numbers and not rely on someone from Delhi influencing voters or get AAP supporters from other states to show strength of their crowds, like other national parties do.
AAP because of its timing in making inroads in Goa almost outsmarted the fledgling regional party Goa Forward Party (GFP), which has been making a lot of noise as the Opposition both in the Assembly and out of it.
But GFP has started to increase its pace and is creating the right tremors in the political scenario. Yet however, if they continue to hope that Congress will form a ‘Mahagatbandhan’ to defeat the BJP, then their wait will be foolish, because Congress will not go in an alliance with any political party because its Goa President Luizinho Faleiro is of the opinion that Congress requires no crutches to win an election in the state.
GFP had three strong young leaders. This unity of Naresh Sawal, Rohan Khaunte and Vijai Sardesai has weathered away. Sawal has made his stance clear that he would be joining the MGP and Khaunte is known to be flirting with the BJP for a Porvorim party picket. This has left GFP with Sardesai and his band of merry men and women to carry the coconut baskets.
Knowing Sardesai for some years now, it is just these kinds of challenges and situations that bring out the best side in his machinations and competitive spirit. Extremely confident and sharp in his political games, Sardesai alone is a force to reckon with irrespective of Khaunte and Sawal. The difference between the three is that Khaunte and Sawal are happy to play safe and work under shadows but Sardesai has always taken calculative risks and does not like to work under any shadow be it an individual or political party.
Some of the candidates that GFP have selected have grass root experience at Panchayat levels; so they are not entirely novices to political shenanigans. They will undoubtedly eat into votes of both Congress and BJP, though more of Congress votes.
The essential difference between GFP and AAP is that while on paper AAP candidates appeal to the literate, anti-corruption set of voters, GFP has as a growing following that appeals to pro-Goans fed up of the influx of non-Goans in migrants or politics. And mind you, Goa is perched at a position that Maharashtra was several decades back when a dynamic leader like Balasaheb Thackeray raised the ‘pro-Maharashtra’ slogan and became a force.
If GFP manages to get even 3-4 seats in the election, that is enough ammunition for Sardesai to play to game of a kingmaker. If AAP gets to 3-4 seats, they will be content in sitting the Opposition; this will help create a base for AAP in the next Assembly elections.
Today Goa needs a regional party that has the guts to take on the national parties. GFP has that opportunity, unless AAP Goa stays focused to Goa and be Goa centric and edges ahead, because while BJP will get to 15-16 seats alone and 19-20 in alliance with MGP, Congress will not cross the double digit threshold. This opens up the opportunity for the other political parties to move forward and strike.