The smallest Indian state, Goa, will witness one of the biggest electoral battles in recent history, with at least eight national and regional parties in fray for the upcoming election.

Legislative Assembly elections will be held in Goa on 14 February 2022, in a single phase, to elect 40 members of the Goa Legislative Assembly. The votes will be counted and the results will be declared on 10 March 2022. Goa politics has been through a tumultuous five years. The incumbent BJP government, led by chief minister Pramod Sawant, is being challenged by the Trinamool Congress and other parties.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the ruling party in the state, while its primary challenger is the opposition Congress. 

The ruling BJP, contesting the first election in Goa following the death of four-time chief minister Manohar Parrikar, has its task cut out in the face of an aggressive Trinamool Congress, a new entrant, and Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP. Other contender is Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The Main contenders of the forth coming assembly election: 

  • Indian Trinamool Congress

With an aim of expanding her party’s national footprint, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee announced that her party would contest from all seats in Goa. She visited the coastal state multiple times late last year, during which tennis player Leander Paes, Bollywood actor Nafisa Ali and Mrinalini Deshprabhu joined the TMC.

The TMC has nominated former Goa CM and party vice president Luizinho Faleiro as its candidate for chief minister. 

According to Goa-based journalist Sumit Naik, the West Bengal CM is primarily attacking the Congress and poaching its Christian legislators. “Christians, who comprise 27 per cent of the electorate, are traditionally Congress voters. If this block goes to the TMC, it will be a big loss to the Congress. On the other hand, the TMC moves will not dent the BJP’s prospects,” said Naik. 

Prepoll Alliance:

The next day Goa’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) in-charge, Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra, indicated that her party “will do everything possible” to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Congress will now may look into the possibilities of a poll pact with TMC.

A top-ranking TMC leader told HT, “We have already entered into a pact with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) for the Goa polls. There is a space for one more constituent in our pact. Either the Congress or the AAP can join this pact if they are serious about defeating the BJP in Goa.”

However, both Congress and AAP have categorically junked this amorphous statement.

Mamata Banerjee’s strategy of wooing voters in general and women voters in particular, which proved to be a masterstroke in the Bengal election:

  • She repeatedly stressed on Goa and Bengal’s fondness for “fish and football”.
  • She has appealed to the state’s Hindu voters by claiming she is a Brahmin and a proud Hindu, while on the other
  • she has harped on her party’s secular image, saying TMC stood for ‘Temple-Mosque-Church’
  • To woo women Voters, she promised of Rs 5,000 cash transfer to every woman head of a household every month.

 

Freebies Announced By TMC to Lure Voter:

  • First election promise, the All-India Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Saturday said that if it wins the 2022 Goa assembly election, it will roll out an income support scheme to guarantee Rs 5,000 to every woman head of a household. 
  • The TMC’s second poll promise:  ‘Mhaje Ghar, Maalki Hakk’ or ‘my house, my right Scheme. The TMC and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) alliance has promised that within 250 days of the formation of their government, they would ensure that all the Goan families residing in Goa since 1976 are provided with title and ownership rights of land under possession. Also, at least 50,000 subsidised homes would be given to homeless families.
  • TMC’ third poll promise: ‘Yuva Shakti Card’ scheme Under the ‘Yuva Shakti Card’ scheme, youths can avail of a credit facility up to Rs 20 lakh with four per cent annual interest. Those who will avail of this card will not be required to provide any collateral to the bank as the government will stand as guarantor for them.

Desertion Of the Party: 

In a new development five primary members of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) from poll-bound Goa, including former MLA Lavoo Mamledar, submitted their resignation to Mamata Banerjee alleged the party is “trying to divide Goans”.

“We had joined the AITC with a hope that it would bring brighter days for Goa and Goans. But it is unfortunate to bring to the notice that AITC has not understood Goa and Goans,” they said in the letter, on Dec 25.

The Trinamool Congress on Wednesday said Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal showed political immaturity as well as ‘desperation’ when he said that the Mamata Banerjee-led party is not in contention in the upcoming elections in Goa.

  • The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)

The Aam Aadmi Party, much like the BJP so far, is fighting it alone. 

Urging the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to practise ‘positive campaigning’, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that the AAP’s objective in the forthcoming Goa Assembly election was to usher in a systemic change in the State.

Kejriwal’s Strategy in Goa Poll:

Kejriwal is concentrating in making inroads among the Bhandari (OBC) community and Christians.

AAP set its political discourse on a tangent recently after it promised that if voted to power, it will appoint a CM from the OBC community (aka Bhandari community), while the Deputy CM will be a Christian. AAP Goa unit convener Rahul Mhambrey said the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is projecting “fresh and clean faces” in the next month’s Assembly elections. “People have seen the Delhi model of development. We will emulate it here,” he added. He said that Colonel (retired) Ajay Kothiyal, is AAP’s chief ministerial face in upcoming elections.

The party is also wooing youths and women by declaring a number of freebies.

Prepoll alliance:

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is contesting the poll for the second time in the state and will be fielding its candidates on all the 40 seats. AAP has outrightly denied any pre-poll alliance with The Congress or any other party.

On pre-poll alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has jumped into the fray in Goa, Kejriwal retorted that the Mamata Banerjee-led party is “not even in the race”. “I think you people give a lot of importance to TMC,” he jibed the media in a press conference in Panaji.

Freebies offered by AAP to lure voters in the assembly election:

The AAP has promised a number of freebies as part of its election manifesto to woo the voters. Some of its key promises include:

  • 24×7 free electricity up to 200 units, 
  • Employment guarantee, rs 3000 per month to every unemployed youth, 
  • Free pilgrimage for elderly, to Ayodhya, Shirdi, Vellankanni and Ajmersharif,
  • A law to reserve 80 per cent of the jobs in the private sector for locals, 
  • Rs 1,000 per month to every woman and some other guarantees for taxi and rickshaw 

  • The Congress

“The Congress strength in Goa has reduced to 2 from 17, owing to the lack of strong leadership in the poll-bound state. There is no national stance taken in the state-level elections. Goa never had relevance in Delhi politics. As a result, outsiders, TMC and AAP, have now been talking about the welfare of the sons of the soil. Both parties have been eyeing Christian votes in Goa, but the community will stand by the Congress. A few Congress rebels who joined BJP are now on their way back to the old party after they realised that they will not get the tickets. But Congress has decided not to entertain the traitors again in the party,” a senior party leader said.

The party has promised to give youth suitable opportunities, make Goa a hub of infotech and biotech, fill up vacant government department posts, 30 per cent reservation for women in government jobs, creation of marketing avenues for products made by women among other promises. Promising an all-round development of the state, the Congress party has released its list of candidates.

Prepoll Alliance:

The Congress has already announced its pre-poll alliance with the GFP. 

Congress is ready to accept the support of any party that is keen to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa in the upcoming assembly elections, senior leader P Chidambaram said on Saturday, according to a news agency PTI

However, the Congress has dismissed talks of alliance with the TMC with AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal tweeting on Monday, “The rumour in circulation that a possible alliance with TMC was discussed by Shri @RahulGandhi in today’s meeting is completely baseless & untrue.” “Let me assure that the Congress party is confident- we will put Goa back on the path to progress soon,” he had said.

Another Congress leader retorted AAP is eyeing the same voter base that the TMC and the Congress are banking on.” Although TMC and AAP have no major chance at all, but they can reduce the Congress votes,” said a source in the Congress, adding that many MLAs and other leaders are joining the TMC as the party is providing large funds to its candidates. 

  1. The BJP 

The BJP is believed to be facing a strong wind of anti-incumbency in Goa but almost all political observers were expecting to see the party return to power by virtue of a split opposition vote – with the Congress-led alliance on the one hand, the TMC-led alliance on the other, and the AAP contesting separately.

As things stand, it is the BJP, made up of more than half the MLAs brought over from the Congress post the 2017 elections, versus two coalitions — the Congress and Goa Forward Party, and new entrant Trinamool Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

In the recent months, the BJP has both gained and lost in the battle of poaching – while independent MLA Rohan Khaunte, the Congress’ Ravi Naik and the GFP’s Jayesh Salgaonkar joined the BJP, the party has lost MLAs Alina Saldanha, who joined the AAP, Carlos Almeida who joined the Congress, Michael Lobo who is believed to be in talks with the Congress, and Pravin Zantye, who is reportedly headed towards the MGP.

Overall, the situation does not look promising for the BJP in the case a split in opposition votes is averted.

  • The NCP

The Nationalist Congress Party is in talks with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Congress to fight the Goa assembly elections together, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said the day before.

  • Shiv Sena

So far Shiv Sena has not opened its card about participation in goa assembly election but in Saamana, shiv Sena’s attack on Mamata Banerjee’s TMC over Goa polls surprised the poll pandits.

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC Goa push will benefit the BJP, and questioned TMC and AAP’s source of funds to secure support from established Goa politicians.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s harshly-worded critique of the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress’s effort to make inroads in Goa comes as a surprise because of Mamata Banerjee’s warm relations with Shiv Sena boss Uddhav Thackeray. (ANI)

Slamming Trinamool Congress (TMC) over its attempt to poach Congress leaders in Goa, Shiv Sena has said that it will benefit Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and it should not have been the stand of West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. The party has also alleged that the TMC and Aam Admi Party (AAP) were using money to woo the voters and poach the established leaders in Goa.