Panaji: GFP on Thursday demanded that Konkani and Goan domicile be made mandatory criteria for the 24 Sagar Mitra posts advertised by the directorate of fisheries. GFP general secretary Mohandas Lolienkar said that if the department fails to ensure that locals are given the jobs, GFP would seek legal recourse. While advertising the posts, the directorate said that candidates should have effective communication skills in the ‘local language’ and preferably be a local. GFP said that the vague nature of the advertisement does not specify which local language is being referred to. “The eligibility criteria for Sagar Mitra posts in Goa gives sufficient scope for candidates from neighbouring states or any other state for these posts to be selected for the job,” said Lolienkar. “The recruitment rules for the advertisement may be corrected by specifying Konkani as the local language in the advertisement along with a 15-year domicile in Goa as a mandatory requirement.” GFP said that it would prefer if the Sagar Mitra supposed to assist fishermen, is a local from the fishing village. Party general secretary Durgadas Kamat said that the fisheries department of others states have “explicitly mentioned” the name of their local language for the Sagar Mitra posts. “In comparison to Goa other states have stated that the candidate must be a local of the village, neighbouring village or at least the district as the Sagar Mitra. They have also stated that the candidate must give a declaration that they must be willing to stay in the village they will be working in. This is to ensure that the Sagar Mitras can spend an extensive amount of time in the fishing villages. We will await prompt action after which we will be forced to take legal course in this matter,” said Kamat.
Panaji: In a broad hint at the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi, GFP said that no one should intrude into matters of faith and belief. GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that Goa’s communal harmony is admired by other states and Goans must ensure that this is not shattered. “We must make sure that we do not intrude on matters of faith and belief, and must keep personal spaces out of public debate. No one can tell anyone else who St Francis Xavier or Lord Parashuram should be to them,” said Sardesai. Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sanghchalak and Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi convenor Subhash Velingkar described St Francis Xavier as anti-national. Velingkar said that a campaign ‘The Goa Files’ will be launched from May 3, to make Parshuram the ‘Goencho Saib’. While Sardesai did not directly name the RSS, the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi or Velingkar, he said that no one should attempt to “influence or decide for others, or shape their thinking”, particularly in matters of faith. “Leave such things to each Goemkar who is mature, progressive and pluralistic to lead their own lives and make their own decisions. Let’s all look to the future and see how we can as Goans shape it for the betterment of all,” said Sardesai. Meanwhile, Sardesai appointed Cuncolim municipal councillor Uddesh Naik Dessai as GFP’s students cell convener. GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat handed over letter of appointment to Dessai.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Saturday condemned the statement made by a leader of the Congress party wherein he blamed the alliance with GFP for the grand old party’s failure in the recently-held state assembly elections.“We condemn the statement made by Congress’ North Goa district unit president Vijay Bhike wherein he said that aligning with GFP was the major reason for Congress party’s debacle in assembly polls,” said GFP leader Deepak Kalangutkar.He further said the GFP chief Vijai Sardesai had called for the formation of team Goa around two years back to take on the BJP in the state. “Vijai Sardesai had also met Rahul Gandhi and made things clear,” he said,addingthat the Congress party had allotted the Mandrem, Mayem and Fatorda constituencies to GFP.“Our founder member Prashant Naik worked closely in Canacona too even though we did not get that seat in the seat-sharing formula. That shows our commitment,” he said.Another GFP leader Santosh Kumar Sawant said it was unfortunate on the part of Bhike to blame the GFP for Congress’ failure in the polls.The Congress party, meanwhile, issued a show-cause notice to Bhike on Saturday over his “derogatory” remark against the GFP and its chief.“It has been brought to the notice of the party that you have made certain derogatory remarks against our alliance partner Goa Forward Party and its leader, Shri Vijai Sardesai, MLA,suo motu, without taking the party into confidence and without authorisationof the party and contrary to the stand of the Indian National Congress,” reads the notice issued to Bhike by the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) senior vice-president M. K. Shaikh.“Such statements not only damage the standing of the Indian National Congress but also raise doubts about the genuineness of the alliance, which continues to be in existence even as of date. It is evident that such reckless statements are not only malicious but also intended to jeopardise the healthy alliance,” the notice reads further.The order has been issued by Shaikh on the directions of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in-charge of Goa Dinesh Gundu Rao.It is pertinent to note that Bhike had on March 16 termed the forming of the Congress party’s pre-poll alliance with GFP as a “mistake” for which the Congress party, he said, suffered a loss. Bhike had also said that due to some leaders, the party workers had to suffer the consequences.The Congress has asked Bhike to submit his explanation in writing within three days failing which the party has said that appropriate disciplinary action will be initiated against him.
Saligao: The joint opposition front that Congress and Goa Forward had put together for the assembly elections seems to be falling apart even before a new government has taken charge with Congress blaming its alliance with GFP as one of the primary reasons for the party’s failure in the polls. Congress North Goa district president Vijay Bhike squarely put the party’s rout at GFP’s door and said aligning with the regional party was a “mistake”. “I feel that we made a wrong decision by having an alliance with Goa Forward, as the alliance did not benefit Congress in any way, but another party took advantage of it,” Bhike said. Congress had allotted Mandrem, Mayem and Fatorda constituencies to GFP. But except for party president Vijai Sardesai, GFP failed to win any seats, while its vote share also dropped to 1.8% from 3.5% from the 2017 polls, when it won three seats on its own. Bhike said instead of strengthening the party and cultivating leaders at the constituency level, Congress had started importing leaders from BJP and relying on alliances. Pointing fingers at the state leadership, particularly state party president Girish Chodankar, who has since resigned from his post, Bhike said the failure to give tickets to loyal party workers proved costly and demoralised the workers. The North Goa district president demanded a complete change in the party leadership. He said though AICC senior election observer P Chidambaram had assured them that loyalty to the party would determine candidate selection, many of them were denied tickets in favour of defectors. “People were looking for candidates who were loyal to the party, but most of the candidates were imports from other parties, while those who supported defectors were also accommodated in the party. So, people voted for another party like RG, which proved costly for Congress,” Bhike said.
Panaji: Congress MLA-elect Michael Lobo said that he is willing to take up the role of opposition leader if the party were to give it to him. “I’m not demanding that I be made the opposition leader, but if asked to, I will be happy to take the responsibility,” Lobo told TOI on Monday. Congress has gone silent after the election results. It is also yet to initiate deliberations as to who will lead the Congress legislative wing. Lobo said that no discussions were held to choose a leader, nor has a meeting been called yet. The new MLAs are set to take oath on Tuesday as Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai has summoned the state legislative assembly. Former chief minister Digambar Kamat has served as opposition leader since July 2019. “Kamat is too mild to take on the government strongly, though he has sound knowledge of the functioning of the House. Unless Congress leads from the front, it cannot expect to be taken seriously as the opposition party,” said a party functionary. “The new opposition leader appointed should be acceptable to other Congress MLAs as well as to GFP,” he said. Vijai Sardesai is the lone GFP MLA elected to the House. Congress had a pre-poll alliance with GFP. The opposition is likely to comprise Congress’ 11, two from AAP, and one each from RG and GFP. Three independent MLA-elects and two from MGP have extended support to BJP. Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, now an independent MLA, was rarely taken seriously by the government even though he tried to raise various issues concerning the state. He had now pledged support to the BJP government. “Overall, we need a good leader to represent the party inside the House to make an impression. It will decide the future of the party in Goa,” a Congress functionary said.
Shoma PatnaikPanajiThe figures expose that politics, criminal antecedents and disproportionate wealth go hand-in-hand: 16 of Goa’s newly elected MLAs have background of criminal cases, and of which 13 have serious cases against them.Moreover all of Goa’s 40 new MLAs, excluding just one, are crorepatis with average assets of `20 crore.It is pertinent to note here that from among the lawmakers elected at the 2017 assembly polls, nine MLAs had criminal cases against them, while six legislators had charges of serious crimes.In terms of wealth, all 40 MLAs were crorepatis but with average assets valued at `10.9 crore.Analysing the election results, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) said on Saturday that winner’s background reveals money and muscle power remain the biggest catch for garnering votes.The election watchdog pointed out that except for one winner from the Revolutionary Goans Party, all other newly-elected MLAs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three Independents are crorepatis.Also, 17 of the winners are re-elected legislators for whom the average growth in assets is by 74%.Top five richest MLA-elect are: Delilah Lobo (INC-Siolim) and Micheal Lobo (INC-Calangute) with assets valued at `92 crore each; followed by first-time winner Dr. Chndrakant Shetye (Independent-Bicholim), assets value `59 crore; Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate (BJP-Panaji), assets of `48 crore; Jennifer Monserrate (BJP-Taleigao), assets `48 crore.The fifth richest winner is Vijay Sardesai (GFP-Fatorda), with assets of `37 crore. The asset value of dark horse winner Viresh Borkar (RGP-St. Andre) stood at `8 lakh, while the two AAP MLA-elect – Venzy Viegas (Benaulim) and Cruz Silva (Velim) – have assets of `5 crore and `12 crore respectively. The ADR analysis has revealed an improvement in the education background of the elected representatives with 21 MLAs being graduates, professionals and postgraduates.“The ECI guidelines required candidates as well as political parties to advertise the criminal background in newspapers. Yet 40% of the state’s electedrepresentatives are with criminal antecedents. It shows the changing demands of voters. In the past Goans voted in the interest of the state, but presently they are voting for themselves. They want government jobs, approach roads, etc.,” said Bhasker Assoldeker, coordinator for ADR-Goa, at a press conference.Assoldekar was accompanied by Manguirish Raikar, council member of ASSOCHAM, who pointed out that Goa’s elections are candidate-driven and not party-driven like in other states.The ADR analysis has revealed thin winning margins in the 2022 elections because of the large number of contestants in the fray.Total 190 contenders out of 301 candidates lost the security deposit.
Margao: GFP president Vijai Sardesai may have won the Fatorda seat for the third consecutive term but his victory has a bitter aftertaste. Not only did his five-year-old party lose its opportunity to emerge as a regional power, but Sardesai’s hopes of being part of the Congress-led government were also shattered. While Sardesai succeeded in surmounting the challenge posed by his arch rival Damu Naik, the two candidates propped up in Mayem and Mandrem failed to emulate his success. Sardesai pulled in 45.8% of the total votes polled in Fatorda, defeating the BJP candidate by 1,527 votes. Political commentators said that the Fatorda MLA, through his various social initiatives under the banner of ‘We for Fatorda’, and ‘Fatorda Forward’ has remained in touch with his voters. Naik, who lost to Sardesai for the third time, found the huge challenge of overcoming Sardesai’s personal charisma difficult. Speaking to TOI immediately after the results, Sardesai said that while he was grateful to his voters for reposing their faith in him, he was disappointed with the election trends.“I am disappointed with the way things turned out,” he said.Poll watchers keeping an eye on the behaviour of the BJP cadre found that many BJP supporters worked for Sardesai. The Saraswat brahmin and ST community, who constitute a sizeable population in this assembly segment, remained faithful to Sardesai, but the same was not true in Mandrem and Mayem. GFP had contested four seats in the 2017 Goa election, winning three of them. This time, the party has been reduced to a single seat, prompting some to say that GFP faces the risk of losing its recognised political party tag if it fails to improve its track record in the next elections. A political party becomes eligible for recognition as a state party if in the last election the party got 6% of the valid votes and at least two of its candidates were elected to the state’s assembly. Parties getting 3% of total seats or at least three MLAs elected —whichever is more —also get recognised as state parties. This time around GFP has won just 1 seat and has got a vote share of 1.8%. “We have a grace period of five years and we have time till 2027 where we have to win more than three seats,” said GFP’s organisational secretary Durgadas Kamat. For the 2022 assembly elections, Sardesai formed an alliance with the Congress but the Congress drove a hard bargain in its seat-sharing with the GFP, putting the Sardesai in a tight corner. “There was an opportunity for them to reapply as a recognised registered political party but they did not win sufficient seats. This time even RG performed better than GFP,” said former state election commissioner and political commentator Prabhakar Timble.
Staff ReporterPanajiMost exit poll surveys conducted by news agencies have projected hung assembly in Goa, indicating that the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress party will be neck and neck to grab the power upon the declaration of assembly poll results on March 10.The average survey figures of 10 different agencies have predicted that both the BJP and the Congress-GFP alliance could win 16 seats each, three seats will go to TMC-MGP alliance and five to ‘others’ (AAP and Independents).As per the ABP Majha-C Voter, the BJP is expected to win 13-17 seats, Congress and alliance 12-16, the TMC-MGP alliance could fetch 4-9 while others have been projected to win 1-7 seats.The ETG Research has predicted that the saffron party is emerging victorious in 17-20 seats and the Congress-GFP alliance in 15-17. It has said the TMC-MGP alliance could win 3-4 seats and has given 2-4 seats to others.The India News exit poll has predicted 13-19 seats to the BJP and 14-19 to the grand old party and its alliance partner, while the TMC-MGP combine could win 3-5 seats. And 2-5 seats will go to others.The India Today-Axis My India survey has projected that 14-18 seats would be won by the BJP and 15-20 by the Congress-GFP alliance. It has said the TMC-MGP alliance could win 2-5 seats and others may get 0-4.India TV-Ground Zero Research has predicted the Congress-GFP alliance may form government comfortably with 20-25 and only 10-14 seats would be won by the ruling BJP, 3-5 seats would go the TMC-MGP alliance and 1-4 to others.India TV-CNX has estimated that the BJP could win 16-22 seats and 11-17 could go to the Congress-GFP alliance, 1-2 to the TMC-MGP alliance and 4-7 to others.The NewsX-Polstrat survey has predicted that 17-19 seats could be fetched by the BJP and 11-13 seats by the Congress-GFP alliance. Surprisingly this poll has not given even one seat to the TMC-MGP alliance, whereas it has projected that 3-11 would be wonby others.The Republic-P Marq has predicted that the BJP and the Congress-GFP alliance winning in 13-17 seats each, and 2-4 would be won by the TMC-MGP alliance and 2-10 could go to others.The Times Now-VETO survey has given 16 seats for the Congress-GFP combine, 14 to the BJP and 10 to others. Just like NewsX-Polstrat, this agency has also not predicted any seat to the TMC-MGP alliance.The Zee News-DESIGNBOXED has predicted that in 14-19 seats the Congress-GFP alliance will emerge victorious, 13-18 will go to the BJP, and 2-5 will go to the TMC-MGP alliance and 2-6 seats to others.The predictions indicate that support from parties like MGP, TMC, AAP and Independents would be crucial for the BJP and Congress to form government.
Panaji: Lashing out at the state government “for deliberately trying to prevent Indian Reserve Battalion personnel from Goa from casting their votes”, Congress and Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Tuesday demanded with the Goa chief electoral office to ensure that the 400 odd IRB personnel posted in UP get a chance to submit their postal ballots. The two parties, which are in alliance for the assembly polls, alleged that the Goa government is physically and mentally harassing IRB police personnel and also trying to delay their return to Goa from Uttar Pradesh. Congress general secretary Sunil Kawthankar and his GFP counterpart Durgadas Kamat met with the officials at the Goa Chief Electoral Office. “There are over 400 of them who have yet to exercise their postal ballots and there is no arrangement for them to vote till now,” said Kawthankar. Around 900 IRB personnel from Goa have been posted in Uttar Pradesh for the ongoing assembly elections, but only half of them have managed to exercise their franchise. GFP and Congress claim that the government and senior Goa Police officers are pressurising the IRB personnel to vote in favour of BJP. State authorities have finally swung into action to bring back the 420 personnel, who have yet to cast their vote. However, instead of bring them back by train, the Goa government has decided to send buses from Kadamba Transport Corporation fleet on a 1500-km journey. Ten buses left on Tuesday from Goa He said that the buses being sent to bring back the personnel are not fit to make the journey and are not comfortable either. “They should be sent by railways because it is a long journey. Instead, the government is sending Kadamba buses to bring them back. Aren’t these personnel human? Can they travel for 1500 kms in a bus, which is not a luxury bus?” said Kawthankar.
Panaji: On March 11, 2017, election was held for the state of Goa and as per the results declared by the Election Commission, the following was the tally of elected members belonging to various political parties and independent candidates: Indian National Congress (INC) 17, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 13, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) 3, Goa Forward Party (GFP) 3, National Congress Party (NCP) 1 and Independents 03, total of 40 seats.The elected members of the BJP along with MGP, the GFP and the Independents, formed the government in the state of Goa. Later, one of the Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), representing the INC from Valpoi constituency resigned from membership of the INC and gave up membership of the Legislative Assembly also. Thereafter, in October 2018, two members of the Legislative Assembly belonging to the INC, resigned from the Assembly and joined the BJP. In this process, the MLAs belonging to the INC were reduced to 14.Thereafter, on March 17, 2019, the then chief minister of Goa passed away and an MLA of the BJP was appointed as the chief minister along with two deputy chief ministers belonging to the MGP and GFP.In the election conducted for the seat that fell vacant due to demise of the then chief minister, Atanasio Monserrate contested and won as an INC candidate. Thus, tally of INC rose to 15.On July 10, 2019, 10 MLAs, claiming to be two-thirds of the legislative party of the INC in the Assembly, decided to join the BJP and informed the Speaker. On this basis, the Speaker allotted them seats in the Assembly along with the members of the BJP. The office of the Goa Legislative Assembly issued bulletin dated July 10, 2019, recording that INC Legislature Party in the Goa Assembly decided to merge with the BJP and that, accordingly, the ten members herein, were allotted seats along with the members of the BJP in the House. On August 8, 2019, the Congress instituted disqualification petition before the Speaker.On March 20, 2019, a meeting of the MLAs belonging to the MGP was held, wherein it was resolved that the MGP would merge with the BJP. On this basis, on March 26, 2019, 2 MGP MLAs sent a letter to the Speaker, claiming that the legislature party of the MGP had merged with the BJP, as two-third MLAs of the MGP had agreed to merge with the BJP.Relying on paragraph 4(2) of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution, the 2 MGP MLAs claimed that the merger had deemed to have taken place. On March 27, 2019, in the early morning hours, the Speaker accepted the said communication for further steps to be taken in the matter. Accordingly, an order was issued by the Secretariat of the Legislative Assembly of Goa regarding such merger of the Legislature Party of MGP with the BJP, as per paragraph 4 of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution. This was also published in the Official Gazette.On May 3, 2019, Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar, the lone remaining MLA of the MGP, filed a disqualification petition before the Speaker challenging the said merger and prayed for disqualification of 2 MLAs under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution. On May 10, 2019, Dhavalikar filed another disqualification petition, as there were some technical defects in the earlier petition. The Speaker eventually passed an impugned order in the disqualification petitions which was challenged in the High Court.The unfolding of eventsOn March 11, 2017, state Assembly election was heldOn July 10, 2019, 10 Congress MLAs decided to join the BJPThe office of the Goa Legislative Assembly issued a bulletin dated July 10, 2019, recording that the INC legislature party in the Goa Assembly decided to merge with the BJPOn August 8, 2019, petitioner Girish Chodankar instituted disqualification against 10 MLAs before the SpeakerThe Speaker passed an order on April 20, 2021 dismissing the petitionChodankar challenged the order dated April 20, 2021. On June 1, 2021, a writ petition was filed before the High CourtOn March 20, 2019, a meeting of the MLAs belonging to the MGP was held, wherein it was resolved that the MGP would merge with the BJPOn March 26, 2019, 2 MLAs sent a letter to the Speaker, claiming that the legislature party of the MGP had merged with the BJP, as two-third MLAs of the MGP had agreed to merge with the BJPOn May 3, 2019, the petitioner-the lone remaining MLA of the MGP filed a disqualification petitionOn May 10, 2019, the petitioner filed another disqualification petition, as there were some technical defects in the earlier petitionOn July 12, 2021, Sudin Dhavalikar filed a writ petition before the High Court
Bicholim: Police on Friday took 10 locals into custody from Mayem, including GFP functionary Santoshkumar Sawant, for blocking ore transportation. The group’s contention was that trucks owned by locals had not been engaged . The protesters were later produced before the deputy collector, Bicholim, and released. The trucks engaged were from areas outside Bicholim, like Sanquelim and surrounding areas, the locals alleged. They demanded that local truckers be hired as there are many unemployed truck owners in the Mayem area. Sawant said that on two previous occasions too, trucks had been engaged from outside areas and locals were compelled to stop ore transportation that time as well. He added that it was unfair to give others an opportunity when locals are unemployed.
PANAJI: After assessing people’s response on February 14, senior functionaries of Congress and its alliance partner GFP on Tuesday claimed that they will win 26 seats to form a stable government. Thanking people for their support, state Congress president Girish Chodanakar said people voted in big numbers to throw out the BJP government. He was addressing a joint press conference after the meeting held to discuss the performance on polling day. Opposition leader Digambar Kamat, Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, GFP president Vijai Sardessai and candidates were among those present. Chodankar said Goans have shown a different direction to the nation in the recent elections. “They have not supported a split of votes. They voted to defeat BJP which will get less than 10 seats. The chief minister and deputy chief minister will be defeated,” Chodankar said. Kamat said the arrogant ministers of the government and ruling party MLAs will face the ground reality on March 10, after their debacle. “People’s feedback suggests that they have voted to defeat BJP. I salute Goans for supporting us.” Chodankar also appealed to government servants to not come under pressure while casting their votes (ballot votes). “The BJP government is no more. Congress will form the new government,” he said. On Tuesday, Congress filed a complaint with the chief electoral officer alleging that government officers who vote using ballot paper were intimidated to vote in favour of their candidates by BJP functionaries. “We have been told by several government employees that BJP leaders had called them to their residence or office along with postal ballots, and directed them to cast their vote in favour of BJP. This is not just a violation of the model code of conduct, but a violation of their fundamental right,” GPCC general secretary Sunil Kawthankar said in the complaint and demanded a probe. Stating that he was happy to receive the love and affection of the people of Goa, Rao said, “We have heard the voice of the people and gave a new Congress.” Sardesai too thanked people for their support. A source said today’s meeting was a show of strength that Congress candidates are together and would not jump ship after the results.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe Congress-Goa Forward Party (GFP) alliance exuded confidence of winning the just held assembly elections with absolute majority, results for which will be declared on March 10.Interacting with media persons after holding a meeting with party candidates at a starred hotel in the city, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar claimed that voters didn’t divide their votes between different political parties.“People didn’t split votes. They voted to defeat BJP. I am thankful to all Goans. BJP will get less than ten seats and our alliance (Congress-GFP) will form the next government with a clear majority,” he said.CLP leader Digambar Kamat said that BJP’s “arrogance” would minimise the day the assembly poll results would be out, and added that the people of Goa have voted for a government which would listen to their voice and take every decision in the interest of the state. Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesai claimed that during the campaigning period and on polling day it was evident that there was a wave for change.“People understood that vote splitters had to be rejected and BJP to be defeated in the polls to save Goa. In all three constituencies where we fielded candidates, our assessment is very encouraging and we are confident of winning all seats,” Sardesai said. Goa Pradesh Congress election in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said that as per the ‘private exit polls’ Congress will win Uttarakhand and Goa assembly polls with an absolute majority.Meanwhile, the Congress alleged that polling personnel on election duty who are yet to cast their vote using postal ballot are being pressurisedby the BJP to vote in favour of their candidates.The GPCC general secretary Sunil Kawthankar filed a complaint before the office of the CEO seeking action in the matter.
Lok Sabha MP and TMC Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra speaks to Newton Sequeira about the party’s combined fight with MGP to tactically reduce BJP’s strength and bring about a post-poll scenario where the oppn can come together to form the govt. TMC has been trying to position itself as an alternative to BJP. But on the ground, TMC has split the non-BJP votes giving them the edge. How do you justify this stance?We have to function as per the reality of Goa. In the North, our alliance partner MGP is contesting 13-14 seats, which Congress isn’t capable of winning. In those 14 seats, MGP is head-tohead with BJP. We have prevented a consolidation of the Hindu votes by tying up with MGP. Congress has always been very strong in Salcete. That has broken up now. So whatever seats are there, ultimately it is going to be a strongestman-wins situation. BJP cannot get a simple majority today. The worst case scenario is that they will be the single largest party with 12 seats. Because the governor is with BJP, he will invite them and give them two weeks. BJP will try to break up parties, use the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and form the government. If Congress were in a position to win 21 seats, I would pack my bags and go home because I am not here to fight Congress. I am here to fight BJP. Congress failed spectacularly in 2017, when even with 17 seats, they didn’t ask for government formation. Do we leave it to them? I can’t take a risk. What we have done is this strategic tactical positioning. In case of a hung House and provided you win some seats, would you be open to supporting any party, including BJP, to form a government?Post-poll, we have to be in a situation where Congress, AAP and Trinamool, including MGP, come together. Whether you like it or not, TMC is a player, and whether you like it or not, TMC and MGP are part of the anti-BJP block. I can’t say if post-poll we will come together as it depends on the numbers, but all I can say is post-poll we are not going with BJP. Nobody is going to form a government in Goa without MGP-TMC. How serious are you about Goa and do you see yourself as a long-term player?We’re long-term players. We are here to stay and there is no question about it. The voter wants an option. We are here and we are here in the minds of the Goan people. First, you said TMC will go alone, then you tried to woo GFP. You even made overtures to Congress. Is the party confused on what strategy to adopt in Goa?See with GFP we never had an alliance. We said if you want to join, you merge yourself. That was not a shift of stance. Tactically, MGP is fighting BJP in the North and we are reducing its strength. That is the most important thing. So, I think our strategy has been tactical all throughout. We have strategised far better than a lot of other people. Do you feel that TMC has been short-changed by Prashant Kishor and I-PAC?Are you disappointed with the way things have turned out in Goa? Not really. Our plans have materialised better than we imagined. In four months, TMC has come in and every single person in Goa knows what we stand for. Our penetration into Goa has been beyond our wildest imaginations. I think I-PAC has worked wonderfully with us in tandem and they have done a brilliant job. Are we where we should have been one week before an election? Yes, we are.
A former deputy chief minister in the Pramod Sawant government, Vijai Sardesai is confident the GFP-Congress pact is Goa’s best bet to send BJP packing. Speaking to TOI, he says the alliance will ensure the welfare of Goa even as he claims that TMC and AAP only have the 2024 national agenda on their minds. BJP has been facing strong anti-incumbency, but people still see a fragmented opposition. Don’t you think this has given BJP a big advantage?Yes, the Pramod Sawant government is perhaps the worst we’ve had in our history so the anti-incumbency is very strong. I agree that with so many opposition parties in the fray, there could be splitting of votes that would be an advantage for BJP. But I feel that the situation has changed dramatically in the last two-three weeks. Look at it this way. With the Congress-GFP alliance, what the people see is a strong, credible political force that can take on and defeat BJP. Now that it has come into place, the other parties have lost their significance. The vote they pull will be negligible. I strongly feel that anti-BJP votes will consolidate with our alliance. So, the advantage BJP thinks they have do not exist. For nearly a year, you have been speaking of the need for Team Goa to fight BJP. Now, GFP has only three seats and Congress the remaining 37. What went wrong?I don’t think anything went wrong. The most important thing is that we do have an alliance credible and powerful enough to challenge BJP. Of course, we would have liked more seats, we would have liked the alliance to have been formed earlier. But to us, removing BJP from power was the first priority and we have made some sacrifices to achieve that. The end result is that the fight is now clearly between our alliance and BJP and they are on the back foot. Things have gone right. Don’t you think there should have been a formidable opposition with a combination of more parties to defeat BJP?That’s the ideal scenario. In reality, it may not work out at all. And it didn’t in our case. But I feel that the people are getting reassured every day that our alliance is capable of defeating BJP even without the others joining in, and that faith is increasing day by day. There are too many parties in the fray and aggressively campaigning offering freebies. How does GFP/Congress propose to stop the division of votes with AAP and TMC vying for your vote share?Look at this from the people’s perspective. They want BJP out. This is non-negotiable for Goans. To make this happen, in a fragmented opposition landscape, they will vote for the party they perceive as the strongest to defeat BJP. That’s our alliance. TMC and AAP have demonstrated that they are here with a 2024 national agenda than a 2022 Goa agenda. Goans’ interest is to get BJP out and that desire is stronger than their desire for freebies from TMC and AAP. With our fresh faces, no-defector policy and unity, we’re emerging as the obvious choice in people’s eyes. According to you, how different is the 2022 election compared to the earlier ones?One is its importance for Goa. I have said that this is the second Opinion Poll. Never before have we faced such threats to every aspect of our lives and property as we are facing now from the Sawant government. For the first time, Goa is being used as a laboratory and Goenkars as guinea pigs as admitted by IPAC for their clients, TMC. BJP speaks of a “double engine” government and its slogan is on stability and infrastructure. Having been part of the BJP government for half the term, what are your comments on this?BJP’s biggest infrastructure projects are making mountains out of molehills. After Parrikar, it’s been nothing but talk. What infrastructure has Pramod Sawant initiated? The work under his tenure has been shoddy and substandard. There’re constant repairs on Atal Setu. All the MLAs who defected insist that they did so for development. What development has happened in their constituencies? Also, infrastructure is not everything. You can’t justify the corruption, the scams, the linear projects, the attempts to turn Goa into either a sin capital or coal hub by building a bridge.
BJP has been facing strong anti-incumbency, but people still see a fragmented opposition. Don’t you think this has given BJP a big advantage? Yes, the Pramod Sawant government is perhaps the worst we’ve had in our history so the anti-incumbency is very strong. I agree that with so many opposition parties in the fray, there could be splitting of votes that would be an advantage for BJP. But I feel that the situation has changed dramatically in the last two-three weeks. Look at it this way. With the Congress-GFP alliance, what the people see is a strong, credible political force that can take on and defeat BJP. Now that it has come into place, the other parties have lost their significance. The vote they pull will be negligible. I strongly feel that anti-BJP votes will consolidate with our alliance. So, the advantage BJP thinks they have do not exist. For nearly a year, you have been speaking of the need for Team Goa to fight BJP. Now, GFP has only three seats and Congress the remaining 37. What went wrong? I don’t think anything went wrong. The most important thing is that we do have an alliance credible and powerful enough to challenge BJP. Of course, we would have liked more seats, we would have liked the alliance to have been formed earlier. But to us, removing BJP from power was the first priority and we have made some sacrifices to achieve that. The end result is that the fight is now clearly between our alliance and BJP and they are on the back foot. Things have gone right. Don’t you think there should have been a formidable opposition with a combination of more parties to defeat BJP? That’s the ideal scenario. In reality, it may not work out at all. And it didn’t in our case. But I feel that the people are getting reassured every day that our alliance is capable of defeating BJP even without the others joining in, and that faith is increasing day by day. There are too many parties in the fray and aggressively campaigning offering freebies. How does GFP/Congress propose to stop the division of votes with AAP and TMC vying for your vote share? Look at this from the people’s perspective. They want BJP out. This is non-negotiable for Goans. To make this happen, in a fragmented opposition landscape, they will vote for the party they perceive as the strongest to defeat BJP. That’s our alliance. TMC and AAP have demonstrated that they are here with a 2024 national agenda than a 2022 Goa agenda. Goans’ interest is to get BJP out and that desire is stronger than their desire for freebies from TMC and AAP. With our fresh faces, no-defector policy and unity, we’re emerging as the obvious choice in people’s eyes. According to you, how different is the 2022 election compared to the earlier ones? One is its importance for Goa. I have said that this is the second Opinion Poll. Never before have we faced such threats to every aspect of our lives and property as we are facing now from the Sawant government. For the first time, Goa is being used as a laboratory and Goenkars as guinea pigs as admitted by IPAC for their clients, TMC. BJP speaks of a “double engine” government and its slogan is on stability and infrastructure. Having been part of the BJP government for half the term, what are your comments on this? BJP’s biggest infrastructure projects are making mountains out of molehills. After Parrikar, it’s been nothing but talk. What infrastructure has Pramod Sawant initiated? The work under his tenure has been shoddy and substandard. There’re constant repairs on Atal Setu. All the MLAs who defected insist that they did so for development. What development has happened in their constituencies? Also, infrastructure is not everything. You can’t justify the corruption, the scams, the linear projects, the attempts to turn Goa into either a sin capital or coal hub by building a bridge.
Fatorda is poised for a high-octane battle of two heavyweights, with GFP president Vijai Sardesai, and BJP general secretary Damodar Naik, the two power centres of the constituency, crossing swords. It’s an existential battle for both. Sardesai persisted with his proposal for alliance with Congress despite several snubs from the latter with the sole objective of, as political observers point out, safeguarding his Fatorda seat. If Congress was to field a formidable candidate in Fatorda, a split in minority votes between GFP and Congress would have queered the pitch for Sardesai. A defeat for Sardesai would essentially put the fortunes of his regional party into jeopardy. On the other hand, Naik, who had preferred to retreat into silence letting Sardesai play his megaphone style of politics during his stint as deputy chief minister in the Manohar Parrikar-government, is determined to avenge his humiliation by wresting the seat for his party. Bereft of any issues, local or ideological, the election campaign in Fatorda is largely driven by the Goemkarponn-Fottingponn narrative. Chief minister Pramod Sawant chose to accentuate the tone of this acerbic discourse by labelling Sardesai’s 10-year tenure as one marked by “fott, fotting and fottingponn” (falsehood), playing sarcastically on GFP’s catchphrase ‘Goem, Goemkar, Goemkarponn’.Political observers are of the view that Sardesai, two-time MLA, is facing a tremendous trust deficit among the Catholic voters which forms a sizeable section of the electorate, mainly on account of his move to join the saffron forces post 2017 polls after ramping up a scathing diatribe against BJP in the run up to the election. Though Sardesai has often apologised for this on public platforms, the beating his image had taken for doing the volte face hasn’t been restored as yet, poll watchers said. Eyeing to cash in on the resentment against Sardesai is TMC candidate Seoula Vas, who was fielded after its national vice-president, Luizinho Faleiro, withdrew from the fray. Political observers say that Faleiro’s retreat enabled Sardesai to breathe a bit easier. His nomination as TMC candidate was seen as a threat to Sardesai, as the erstwhile veteran Congressman was expected to eat into a sizeable chunk of the traditional Congress votes, thereby benefitting BJP. Nevertheless, Vas has succeeded in projecting herself as an alternative by her oratory skills and the confidence she exudes in her campaign. Vas’ gains will be in direct proportion to Sardesai’s loss, poll watchers say. The pattern of voting by the ST voters which also constitutes a sizable chunk of the electorate in this constituency would also determine the outcome of the polls. Ahead of the polls, Fatorda witnessed a fierce competition from both the principal rival camps to rope in leaders of the tribal communities. “Whatever be the brand of politics he practises, Sardesai has brought in development in terms of road network, beautification of spaces and traffic islands, introduction of traffic signals, removal of traffic bottlenecks, etc.,” said a political observer. “This is clearly evident when one enters Fatorda, and stands in stark contrast to the type of development in neighbouring Margao. This pro-development image will stand him in good stead.” The Naik camp, however, focusses on demolishing this narrative by stressing that all groundwork for development was made during his tenure as MLA for two terms from 2002 to 2012 and that whatever Sardesai did was just a follow-through exercise. Given the high stakes involved and the altered political equations, the constituency appears to be headed for a photo finish.
Panaji: A clear majority for the Congress-Goa Forward alliance will put an end to the current trend of defections in the state, said Goa Forward Party (GFP) president Vijai Sardesai on Saturday. Sardesai released his manifesto for Fatorda constituency and said that the alliance partners will pursue a “development by consent” model. Sardesai said that many workers of other political parties, including BJP, are supporting GFP and working against BJP. “Goa’s image has taken a beating because of its politics, a replay of the ‘Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’ trend. I assure Goans that a clear majority for us will put an end to defections,” said Sardesai. Sardesai said that the synergy between Congress and GFP was evident at the political meeting held by Congress MP Rahul Gandhi at Sanquelim. “When Rahul Gandhi spoke, he covered the development by consent model, something we have been implementing in Fatorda for the last 10 years,” said Sardesai after which he released his party manifesto for Fatorda. The Fatorda MLA said that while many supporters of other political parties are ready to join GFP, he has decided not to induct members of other parties as it would spoil the reputation built till now. He also said that Thane BJP MLA Sanjay Kelkar is in Goa to lure people of other political parties. He pointed out that nearly 50% of the BJP candidates are prone to defections while 75% of the Congress-GFP candidates are fresh faces. Sardesai said that his manifesto is an “answer paper” for people’s suggestions and questions. “Fatordekars will decide the type and form of development they want. Not like the BJP’s model of development, in which the amount of commission decides development priorities. People’s wishes are bulldozed, something which I have not allowed in Fatorda,” said Sardesai.
PANAJI: On being left with just two MLAs with the worst ever defections that Congress witnessed in Goa since 2017, it decided to go AAP way. On Friday, its 37 candidates in fray for the February 14 Goa Assembly elections, took a ‘loyalty pledge’ in the presence of Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi. Three candidates of Congress’ alliance partner, GFP also took the ‘loyalty pledge.’ In the 40-member Goa Legislative assembly, as a pre-poll alliance arrangement, Congress has shared three seats with GFP. The congress and GFP candidates vowed that they “will not defect” during their five-year term after being elected on their respective party tickets nor will they contest elections on another party symbol by resigning from their respective parties before their term ends. They will complete their full term and will serve the people of Goa with full honesty and loyalty. The signed affidavits were submitted to Congress leader Rahul to be presented to Congress national president Sonia Gandhi. The trend of making candidates sign affidavits to be faithful to the party they are elected on was started by AAP in Goa, but last month in its first attempt to keep the flock together, Congress also made its candidates take wow before gods of various faiths, stating they will not desert the party after the election for possible benefits for being with the ruling party. The AAP has been trying to make inroads into Goa, chiefly eying on Congress’ vote share, and one of its planks to win those votes in these elections has been that voting for Congress candidates is futile as anyways they will leave the party, once elected.
Panaji: BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade on Wednesday said that Congress and AAP can make its candidates take all the oaths in the world, but the oath at Raj Bhavan will be taken by BJP MLAs on March 10. Tanavade was reacting to AAP national convener Arvind Kejirwal’s announcement that his party candidates would give affidavit copies to all voters swearing not to defect on being elected. “We do not need to give any oath to our candidates. Our MLAs will take oath at the Raj Bhavan once our government is elected,” Tanavade said, adding that BJP will be elected with a simple majority and no ‘outside support’ will be required this time. “All of them know that BJP will be elected with a majority. If they were confident of forming the government would they have given such oaths to their MLAs? They fear that if one MLA is elected, they may try to merge their party. That is why Congress has also given its candidates such oaths. This time we will not require any outside support,” he said, adding that Congress will be reduced to single digits this time. “Prashant Kishore thought that putting up TMC posters everywhere will create an atmosphere favouring the party. But Goa is different. This poster baazi (poster-driven politics) does not work here. The minute posters are pulled down, people forget and that is what TMC has seen happening now,” Tanavade said. Praising the Union Budget, Tanavade said that infrastructure, tourism and organic farming in Goa will receive a boost. He said the Budget aims to encourage green projects, while also creating employment. “Optic fibre connectivity announced is the need of the future to go digital. We have seen how many students in Goa faced issues due to internet connectivity. Optic fibre connectivity will address this,” the BJP state president said.
Margao: GFP president and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai on Wednesday slammed chief minister Pramod Sawant while accusing him of “leading Goa towards destruction”. He also emphasised on his catchphrase, ‘Team Goa’, signifying that only a united opposition will “save Goa” from further disaster. “If this accidental chief minister takes over the reins of Goa once again, Goa will be heading towards worse times,” Sardesai said while addressing a press conference held by the Congress Fatorda block to express their support to GFP. Congress and GFP have forged an alliance for the February 14 polls. In a riposte to remarks made by Sawant at Fatorda, Sardesai on Wednesday referred to the chief minister as “property Sawant” pointing to what he said was Sawant’s penchant for buying properties. He also criticised the chief minister for being busy “counting trips”, referring to his interests in mining transportation. The Fatorda legislator also accused Sawant of stopping road works worth Rs 27 crore in Fatorda, which he had initiated. Referring to recruiting a large number of people from Valpoi for jobs in the South Goa district hospital, Margao, Sardesai warned of “stopping” the functioning of the hospital after the Covid-19 pandemic if locals were not given employment. “People have sacrificed their land for the construction of the hospital. New projects should benefit locals by way of employment. Otherwise, we need no projects at all,” Sardesai said. He further accused former Congressman Luizinho Faleiro, who is now TMC national vice-president, as being BJP’s “agent”. “He (Faleiro) was the agent of BJP in 2017 (Faleiro was the party president when Congress failed to form the government) and now in 2022 also he continues to be its agent,” he said.
With less than two weeks to go for elections in the state, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar expresses confidence that the Grand Old Party will emerge victorious with a clear majority. He says the people will not fall prey to the freebies offered by the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress; instead, they will vote to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party and to protect Goa’s identity and environment. Excerpts from the interview:We have given a community commitment, we have legal options; further, candidates will give commitment to voters: Girish ChodankarRohan ShrivastavPanaji: The assembly polls are less than two weeks away. What is your assessment of the situation? Where does the Congress stand at this juncture?We have aligned with the people’s voice, demand, and people’s will, and accordingly, we just followed the agenda set by the people and we are working in that direction; the result we are leaving up to the people of Goa. We have tried to fulfill the common aspirations of the people when they said not to accept the defectors and individuals who have a link with the BJP.How many seats do you think your party will win?Going by the trend, surveys and feedback we have received, we feel that we will cross the majority mark. We don’t have the machinery that is in possession of the BJP where they can tell you the exact number. So, we should win somewhere between 24 and 26 seats.You seemed to be unhappy when the Congress announced an alliance with the Goa Forward Party (GFP). Why were you against the alliance? Is it because you wanted to contest the polls from Fatorda seat against Vijai Sardesai?I had declared six months back that I am not going to contest in one constituency; rather I will be contesting from all 40 seats. The question of me contesting the polls doesn’t arise; if I wanted to contest, nobody would have stopped me… My priority is to ensure victory of Congress and fulfill the aspirations of people of my state. I have dedicated myself to the cause of the people of Goa. Yes, I have certain reservations on certain issues. My party respects the views of every worker. Party takes the decision in the larger interest… May be they felt that the points which I raised may not be valid and in the larger interest we aligned with the Goa Forward Party. As a soldier of the party, I had to fall in line; today, I campaigned in Mayem, where a candidate nominated by GFP is contesting. We are fighting this election with the GFP, and our target is to defeat the BJP.Congress refrained from stitching a pre-poll alliance with the AAP and the TMC. Are you open to a post-poll alliance with these two parties in case of a fractured mandate?This question doesn’t arise. We are confident that the people will vote us to power with a majority. People are very smart and they know what happened when a fractured mandate was given, Congress is the alternative… We are not working to just win the elections but we are here to win the people and we have done what the people of Goa are expecting and asking us to do.Will Congress declare its chief ministerial candidate before February 14?By now, the people of Goa and our cadre know who is going to be the next Chief Minister of Goa. It’s already known to the people. The person who has remained throughout with the party and taken up all the issues of the people will be the one, and naturally our elected MLAs will support him as the chief ministerial candidate. As a formality, elected MLAs of Congress and GFP – within half-an-hour of the declaration of results – will elect our CLP leader and we will be at the Raj Bhavan to stake claim to form the government.Congress has been taking up various issues and tried to “expose” the BJP government’s failures through the media. Do you feel the party has succeeded in convincing the voters?We have done our duty as an opposition party, we have taken up the issues of the people and opposed the policies and programmes of the government that are against the interests of Goa and Goans. No other political party has done this. For example, many parties are announcing freebies; we are not in competition with them because we are serious about governance. Have the people asked for free electricity and water? People of Goa are demanding an environment free from pollution; people don’t want Goa to become a coal hub and they want to preserve the identity of Goa. Congress is the only party which is speaking on these issues. We are going to scrap the three linear projects and take every step to stop Goa from becoming a coal hub. Other parties are not speaking because their financiers are common; that is the reason why these parties are protecting the interests of the coal mafia. AAP and TMC have no courage and are just trying to bully Goans because they want to help the BJP form the government.Congress has seen mass defection of MLAs to the BJP in the current assembly tenure; as a result, there is an impression among the people that even this time if one votes for Congress, the legislators will defect to the BJP. As announced, the party has not given ticket to any defector. How will you reassure the people on this issue?The message is loud and clear to our aspirants. One is the community commitment that we have done: in Mahalaxmi temple, Holy Cross shrine, and at the Dargah. We have also worked out a legal way. Beyond these, the candidates will be giving their commitment to the voters; so we have taken all necessary precautions and I can assure you that no MLA will dare to leave Congress after getting elected in the February 14 elections. Once the tenure is completed, we don’t mind if they want to leave, it will be their choice. During their tenure, nobody will even dare to think of leaving Congress, they know the reasons.With respect to women, this time Congress has nominated only two candidates. Why so few seats?If we had the opportunity, I would have been very happy to give tickets in all 40 seats to women…but we have to work in that direction. I know our Mahila Congress president Beena Naik and her team has done extremely well for the party organisation. In order to contest the election, you will have to work as a candidate. The work done by the women’s wing was organisational; so along with organisational work, we want them to target a constituency and focus there as a candidate. I promise that we will support them in the constituency of their choice and make them battle ready for future elections.
Margao: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Tuesday made a scathing attack on GFP Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai and Margao MLA Digambar Kamat while speaking at the launch of BJP Fatorda candidate Damodar ‘Damu’ Naik’s manifesto. He said that Sardesai’s 10-year tenure was marked by “fott, fotting and fottingponn” (falsehood), playing sarcastically on GFP’s catchphrase ‘Goem, Goemkar, Goemkarponn’. “Goemkars have experienced the fottingponn of the Fatorda MLA. What Goa needs is a government enjoying absolute majority, and only BJP has the capability to provide a stable government,” Sawant said. Exuding confidence that BJP will form the next government, Sawant said that “during the next five years, the BJP government will lead Goa towards prosperity”. Taking on Kamat over his statement that Goa witnessed prosperity during his tenure as CM, Sawant said that various types of scams took place under Kamat’s watch. “Kamat brought the worst days to Goa and the people are still suffering from its effects. The ban on mining came when Kamat was CM, and it was my government that took steps to put in place various measures and policies to revive mining and boost tourism.” Naik, in his address, said that construction of a signature bus stand in Fatorda, permanent resolution of the Sonsoddo garbage treatment plant issue, and facilities for farmers were a priority in his manifesto.
Bicholim: GFP’s Durgadas Kamat said that resolving the long-pending evacuee property issue of Mayem residents will be top priority if their candidate Santosh Kumar Sawant is elected. At a joint press conference with Congress, Kamat said that Sawant will stay put in Mayem to resolve this and other issues and will not call the residents to Panaji. He said that the anti-incumbency against BJP is very strong and expressed confidence in Sawant’s victory. Congress’ Mahesh Yende said, “It has been found that the BJP government has given several jobs to youth from Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district, sidelining unemployed Goan youth.” Congress-GFP alliance, if elected, will provide jobs only to locals, he said, demanding an inquiry into the matter.
After winning twice in a row, BJP lost its hold over the constituency in 2017 when Jayesh Salgaonkar (Goa Forward Party) upset the odds. Congress is making strong efforts to win the seat withthe backing of former BJPminister and now Congress’Calangute candidate, Michael Lobo. Though AAP and TMC are also in the fray, Saligao appears to be a direct contest between Salgaonkar, now with BJP, and Congress nominee Kedar Naik, sarpanch of Reis Magos. TMC chose Bholanath Ghadi Sakhalkar over Yatish Naik, who was among the first to join TMC, along with its national vice-president Luizinho Faleiro. AAP has nominated businessman Mario Cordeiro, but both are unlikely to make a big impact. At best, their presence could lead to some division of votes, said one observer who did not wish to be named. “The contest is between Jayesh and Kedar. The common factor between the two parties is that both have imported candidates in an attempt to win the seat, disturbing core party workers,” he said. Kedar’s entry into Congress and nomination in less than two weeks hasn’t gone down well with many Congress spokesperson Tulio D’Souza, who contested the 2012 election on Congress ticket and polled 4,276 votes, is among those who were left dejected. Kedar has rock-solid support from Lobo who is pursuing ‘Mission Bardez’. There is anti-incumbency against BJP too, but the Reis Magos sarpanch’s reach, many feel, is limited to his panchayat. His success will depend on whether he can win over the other five panchayats -- Saligao, Guirim, Sangolda, Pilerne and Nerul. Even though Salgaonkar has not been able to do much developmental work for the constituency, despite being a minister for about two years while with GFP, he has a bigger appeal, observers feel. The former legislator also has the support of outgoing MLA Rohan Khaunte of the neighbouring constituency of Porvorim. In 2017, he polled 9,735 votes and won by a margin of 2,137 on a GFP ticket, defeating former tourism minister Dilip Parulekar. Those who tracked the election in Saligao say Salgaonkar benefitted from minority votes, which he is unlikely to get this time around. Salgaonkar’s crossing over to BJP was not taken kindly by the Saligao Mandal and needed intervention from Goa election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis to pacify party workers. In a bid to placate Parulekar, he was recently appointed party vice-president. Significantly, the former MLA failed to win a third term as some party workers went against him in 2017. It is not Parulekar alone who has been upset with the induction of Jayesh. Zilla panchayat member Rupesh Naik has also left the party and is now contesting as an Independent, providing some advantage to Kedar, a political observer said. Issues plaguing Saligao are certain to take a back seat as internal party rivalries come into play and could prove to upset calculations of the two leading candidates.
PANAJI: The data being collected by TMC and the political management firm, I-PAC, could be misused and even sold to marketing and third party research companies, said Congress and GFP on Saturday. Congress and GFP have written to the Chief Election Commissioner and asked that all the data on Goan voters collected by I-PAC be seized. The two parties, which are fighting the Goa assembly elections in an alliance, said that I-PAC is collecting data using dubious means and by promising benefits under non-existent schemes. Congress general secretary Sunil Kawthankar and GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat demanded an investigation into the collection of personal information of voters. “TMC claims that around 3 lakh women and more than 2 lakh youth have enrolled for these schemes. As it turns out, their exercise is not just an awareness drive for their 2022 election campaign. It is in fact a massive data collection drive where they will use this data of lakhs of Goans for purposes other than the current election,” Kawthankar said. Kamat said that I-PAC is paying volunteers Rs 800 for every 15 voters enrolled. “It is clear that TMC has come here to split votes and collect data. In Mayem, women have told us that they are being harassed to register. This data will be sold to various agencies for research and marketing,” said Kamat.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe Congress and Goa Forward Party on Saturday accused Trinamool Congress Party and Indian Political Action Committee I-PAC of collecting voters’ data through dubious means for perpetrating a larger “conspiracy”.Addressing a press conference in Panaji, general secretary of both the respective parties Sunil Kawthankar and Durgadas Kamat informed that they have filed a complaint in this regard with the Chief Election Commissioner, New Delhi.They alleged that TMC and its I-PAC will use the data of Goans for purposes other than the current elections.“The manner in which they are misleading people and collecting their personal information warrants serious investigation. TMC has been going door-to-door giving women a card stating that they will get money once TMC comes to power. “While doing this process of issuing cards, they collect all the personal data of voters,” Kawthankar said, pointing out that TMC has claimed that around 3 lakh women and more than 2 lakh youth have enrolled for the schemes offered by them.“TMC is using Goa as an experiment and helping BJP to come to power. TMC will not win a single seat, they are here to divide votes and help BJP,” he added. Durgadas Kamat said that they will not allow TMC and IPAC to sell data of Goan voters.“Prashant Kishore who is associated with IPAC stated in a recent interview that they are following a model which will provide wealth of data and first hand information for Trinamool and IPAC to figure it out that if they have to go beyond and if they have to do a party at national level, what it takes,” Kamatsaid. He further said, “This means that the data collected from Goan women and youth in the name of schemes is used for purposes other than the scheme itself.” Both the alliance partners have demanded the ECI to take serious cognizance of the issue and seize all data collected by TMC and I-PAC immediately.
Panaji: Expressing concern over the huge data on Goan voters being collected by TMC and Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC), GFP on Friday urged the Election Commission to look into TMC’s functioning ahead of the coming elections. GFP has also urged Goan voters to be wary about sharing data with unknown entities. GFP said that TMC and poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC are using the state assembly elections as a laboratory to gather data with no clear indication on how the data is stored or used. “Prashant Kishor says in this interview that TMC is in Goa to collect a wealth of data. Who’ll use the huge data I-PAC collected of lakhs of Goans through three non-existent schemes?” said GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat. In an interview with a television channel, Kishor said that TMC is gathering “a wealth of data” from Tripura, Meghalaya and Goa to see what it takes if the TMC wants to expand its footprint nationally ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. GFP president Vijai Sardesai also questioned whether I-PAC is a campaign agency or a spying agency.
PANAJI: Over 25% of BJP’s candidates for the upcoming Goa election are former Congressmen who have neither been part of the cadre-based party nor contested on its ticket before. This is a huge jump from the last election in 2017, when BJP imported just two Congressman — Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho and Cumbharjua MLA Pandurang Madkaikar — given the winnability factor. This time, BJP has given former Congressmen ten tickets — Nilkanth Halarnkar (Tivim), Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate (Panaji), Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao), Francisco Silveira (St Andre), Antonio Fernandes (Santa Cruz), Clafasio Dias (Cuncolim), Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavalekar (Quepem), Ravi Naik (Ponda), Savio Rodrigues (Velim) and Joseph Sequeira (Calangute). BJP has also given candidature to two independent MLAs — Rohan Khaunte in Porvorim and Govind Gaude in Priol, and also to former GFP MLA Jayesh Salgaonkar. Khaunte was elected as independent MLA in the 2012 and 2017 elections. Gaude, who was the Congress candidate from Marcaim in 2007, later shifted to Priol, and was elected as independent MLA in 2017. That year, Salgaonkar, a former Congressman who later joined GFP, was elected as Saligao MLA for the first time. In 2017, immediately after former Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar was sworn in as chief minister, health minister and former Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane was the first to resign as Congress MLA to join BJP. But Rane faced the byelection and got elected on a BJP ticket. After Parrikar’s death in 2019, just one of the sitting BJP MLAs were from the party cadre — Sakhali MLA Pramod Sawant — resulting in him being named chief minister. Later that year, there was an exodus into BJP, when ten Congress MLAs split to join it. However, they did not face the byelection as they merged the Congress legislature party with BJP. These ten were Halarnkar, the Monserrates, Fernandes, Silveira, Dias, Kavalekar, Filipe Nery Rodrigues, Wilfred D’Sa and Isidore Fernandes. However, some of these 10 quit the party on the eve of the election as they did not want to contest on a BJP ticket. Others were denied the ticket, like former Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes and former minister Filipe Nery Rodrigues. Rodrigues had earlier expressed that he did not want to contest on a BJP ticket. D’Sa quit the party to contest as an independent. Others who joined from Congress and got the BJP ticket include Joseph Sequeira (Calangute) and Savio Rodrigues (Velim). Sopte was BJP Pernem MLA before joining Congress during the 2012 assembly election. After delimitation in 2012, Sopte was left with no option but to join Congress as Pernem was divided into two constituencies — Pernem (reserved for SC) and Mandrem, which was represented by former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar. Political observer Cleofato Almeida Coutinho said that BJP is a cadre-based party unlike Congress, and it had stood out as a party with difference. “Taking defectors from Congress meant it has sacrificed its different standing. It is now power for the sake of it. Power now cements BJP,” he said.