Home Contact Us  

Peace & Conflict Database - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#5244, 17 March 2017

2017 Indian Assembly Elections

Goa: Staging Post of the Resourceful
Bibhu Prasad Routray
Director, Mantraya.org, and Visiting Fellow and Columnist, IPCS

Otto Von Bismarck wrote, "Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable, the art of the next best." The quotation assumes relevance in Goa's context where the declining popularity and poor show of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Legislative Assembly (LA) polls were converted into a smart victory after the party managed to secure support of nine of the 10 candidates belonging either to smaller parties or independents. The Congress party, the single largest party in the LA, came woefully close to forming the government. But its inability to garner additional support forced it to stay out of power. 
In the elections to the 40-member Assembly, the Congress won 17 seats, followed by the BJP at 13 seats. The BJP's vote share, however, while being larger than the Congress, witnessed a dip compared to the 2012 election results. The party polled 32.5 per cent of the total votes compared to the Congress' 28.4 per cent votes. During the post-poll bargaining, the BJP managed to woo the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (with 11.3 per cent of the votes) and the newly formed Goa Forward Party (with a mere 3.5 per cent of the votes) to its fold, both with three elected members each. Additionally, the Nationalist Congress Party and two independent candidates pledged their support to the BJP. Consequently, the BJP's new strength increased to 22, sufficient to allow it to form the government.  
While post-poll understanding between political parties and concepts such as extension of outside support are new neither in the Indian context, nor in Goa (which is known for its unstable political history), the swift marriage for benefit between bitter rivals raised several questions regarding the role of principles in politics and on long-term ability of the new government to deliver on promises made during the campaigning period.
The MGP's Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar and the GFP’s Vijai Sardesai have in the past been bitter critics of the BJP. The MGP fought the election on an anti-BJP platform, along with the Goa Suraksha Manch floated by former Rashtriya Sawamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader Subhash Velinger and the Shiv Sena. While neither the GSM nor the Shiv Sena won any seat in the elections, Velinger's professed objective of "teaching the BJP a lesson" and the GSM's alliance with the MGP made the latter's marriage with the BJP appear as a humongous contradiction. Similarly, among his supporters, Vijai Sardesai had positioned himself as a kingmaker of a non-BJP government. GFP President Prabhakar Timble resigned in protest after Sardesai's dramatic u-turn, and said, "We had our whole campaign against BJP but our 3 legislators have decided to extend the support to BJP.  Now I don't want to be the face of the party." 
Both the MGP and the GFP extended support to the BJP on the condition that former Chief Minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, who was serving as India's defence minister, would return to the state to take charge as chief minister. The BJP complied. Following the orders of the Supreme Court after a plea by the Congress party that was not offered a chance to form the government by the Goa governor, a vote of confidence was conducted on 16 March. 22 MLAs voted in favour in support of the BJP. Afterwards, a beaming Parrikar, in a press conference, vowed to carry forward the development agenda of the coalition government for the next five years. 
The BJP's victory in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand has been ascribed by the party to its development and economic growth agenda. Manohar Parrikar, after the Goa election results were declared, had said that the fractured mandate in the state would hinder development and set Goa back by 10 years. 
However, lethargic implementation of developmental and infrastructural projects has been the hallmark of the BJP government's five-year tenure in Goa. While factors like anti-incumbency, a mini rebellion by a RSS faction against the BJP, and Manohar Parrikar's induction as the defence minister could have affected the BJP's electoral prospects, the ruling party's failure to address burning issues such as rising unemployment (currently pegged at 10 per cent), lack of quality roads, electricity outages, an absolute lack of garbage collection and disposal mechanisms, rising incidents of crime, drug peddling and prostitution, and slow progress in building bridges across Mandovi and Zuari rivers made it look like a non-performing party. Parrikar running the state's affairs from Delhi with a remote control did not help the prospects of chief minister Lakshmikant Parsekar, who lost in the polls by a sizeable margin of 7000 votes. The BJP had done well to subsidise petrol and electricity prices in Goa, making it the lowest in the entire country, but failed to implement even the relatively routine administrative decisions such as providing license to the beach shacks and beach cleaning contracts. Unsurprisingly, six of the eight BJP ministers lost their polls.
Political polarisation among the Hindus who comprise 66 per cent of Goa's population and the Catholic community that comprises 25 per cent of the state's population has grown as a result of BJP's pro-Hindu outlook in states where it is the ruling party. Even though the party has played safe on sensitive issues such as consumption of beef and has seven Catholics among its 13 elected members, the BJP's political performance in Christian-dominated constituencies of South Goa district has remained poor. In South Goa, three prominent sitting Catholic MLAs lost the elections.
The biggest surprise of the elections was the inability of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) to win a single seat. The AAP had mounted a massive campaign in the state and was banking on the pre-poll surveys that indicated a rising popular support for the party. In the end, the voters appeared to have detached themselves from an 'outside' party with questionable achievements in the national capital Delhi where it is in power. However, the AAP's 6.3 percent vote share could have eaten into the support base of the non-BJP parties such as the Congress.  
The BJP's new found allies and the lifeline of the new government, the MGP and the GFP, are political entities with thin support base within the state. But their rational choice of aligning with the BJP would ensure that they enjoy immense political leverage for next five years. Such opportunistic fence jumping in the Indian context usually translates into a variety of benefits for the candidates, while doing nothing to strengthen democratic principles. 
Politics is indeed the staging post of the resourceful.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee


Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Dealing with Left Wing Extremism: No Permanent Solution?

Rumour of Triumph

Forecast 2017: LWE Still Holding On

A Bridge Over River Gurupriya

Annihilation of the Marginalised: The New Normal in Myanmar

Rise of the Vainglorious Policeman

End Game: Fractured and Scarred Tribal Communities

The Dream that the State Sells

Development and Maoists

Maoists Vs Former Maoists: A Peep into Jharkhand's Counter-LWE Policy

The Re-cleansing of Nallamala

Forecast 2016: Shrinking Space for Left-wing Extremism

Anti-Maoist Operations in Chhattisgarh: Successes and Claims of Successes

Myanmar: A Long Road After the Grand Triumph

Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes

Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala

The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

IPCS Forecast: Left-wing Extremism in 2015

Maoist Attack on the CRPF: Time for New Counter-strategies

Naxal Violence: Challenges to Jharkhand Polls

Naxalites and the Might of a Fragile Revolution

Six Thousand Plus Killed: The Naxal Ideology of Violence

Anti-Naxal Operations: Seeking Refuge in Symbolism

A 'New' Counter-Naxal Action Plan

Tackling Naxal Violence: An Agenda for the New Indian Government

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 January  February
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.