The manner in which the wards are reserved for the ensuing municipal election has proved the apprehensions expressed by the Bharatiya Janata Party nearly a month ago of they being manipulated to help the ruling dispensations candidates and mar the prospects of opposition candidates.
In Margao for example, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Goa Pradesh Congress Committee General Secretary have succeeded in setting the stage to make things easier for their candidates while at the same time ensuring that the Opposition has it tough.
Digambar Kamat who is the Margao MLA, has for the second time ensured that BJP’s Rupesh Mahatme does not get to contest from his ward No. 10 comprising of Malbhat area. While at the last elections it was reserved for women, this time around it is reserved for OBC thereby ensuring that Rupesh Mahatme who is a Brahmin does not contest.
And probably to get back at Kamlini Paiguinkar who took Digambar’s challenge and won from her ward at the last elections, this time around, her ward No. 17 is also reserved for OBC thereby disqualifying Kamlini, a Hindu Brahmin from contesting.
Ward No. 7, which is currently represented by Raju Shirodkar, a BJP member, has been reserved for ladies.
Vijay Sardessai on the other hand has played his cards well to ensure that it is smooth sailing for his candidates Joseph D’Silva and Gonzag Rebello while at the same time pinning down Piedade Noronha who he considers to be responsible for his defeat at the last assembly elections.
Ward No. 3 represented by Piedade has been reserved for the ST community. While this does allow Piedade to contest from the ward, what it does is effectively disqualifies muslims from contesting thereby making it easy for these bulk votes to be transferred to Vijay’s candidate Joseph.
Although at the face of it, it appears that former minister Mama Cardozo has been sidelined as his request to reserve ward No. 9 for ST to enable his son Tito to have an easy run, has not been acceded to, a deeper study reveals that by keeping ward No. 9 Tito has been helped as he can contest from there as otherwise it would have to be reserved for OBC women since ward No. 3 was already planned to be reserved for ST to help Joseph.
And though it appears that the victim of this manipulation is Ramdas Hazare whose ward No. 4 is reserved for ST women even though the ST population in this ward is quite less compared to some other wards, this has been done to ensure that Ethel Lobo does not get a chance to bounce back into the council.
Two councilors have indirectly benefitted due to the delimitation that was done prior to the last municipal elections as they now get a chance to be re-elected to the council for a record third term since their wards have escaped being reserved for ladies.
Ward No. 5 represented by Raju Naik and ward No. 8 represented by Gonzag Rebello will be going to polls for the fourth time as open wards.
However, bad luck struck Panchayat Minister Babu Azgaonkar’s brother Rajendra whose ward No. 13 is once again reserved for women after a gap of one term.
Meanwhile, the BJP is scheduled to meet on Saturday to chalk out its strategy in view of the “manipulated” reservation of wards.