Goa, with 40 seats, is going for elections on February 14. Hectic campaigning is on and already submission of nominations by the candidates has started with the two major contending parties the ruling BJP and the Congress set to field the respective party candidates in most of the seats. Congress, as of now, has fielded nomination in majority of the seats, the remaining will be done within the remaining days. Trinamool Congress has also started fielding candidates.
The present poll scenario in Goa is vastly different from what it was during the 2017 elections followed by Lok Sabha elections in 2019. In the last five years since 2017, the Congress which secured the largest number of seats 17 in 2017 elections as against 13 by BJP, has lost most of its legislators and its party base has also shrunk. But still, the Congress is the only opposition party in Goa which has branches in each village of the coastal territory. Congress had very respected leaders earlier and some of them ran the Goa administration as Chief Ministers with efficiency.
Now on the eve of the 2022 polls, there are two new rivals to the Congress base Aam Aadmi Party and Trinamool Congress. AAP contested in 2017 and 2019 elections but fared very poor, but this time, they are contesting in all seats and exuding confidence as a potential contender against BJP and the Congress. AAP has announced its CM face in Goa and has said that the Party is ready for alliance with the non-BJP parties after the elections if circumstances demand so.
Trinamool is a completely new entrant. The Party joined the electoral campaign with big hype and poached some leaders from the Congress. TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee visited Goa and had meetings with the civil society.TMC has created some impact due to charisma of Mamata but that is not adequate to be translated into substantial seats. TMC has finally approached the Congress for a pre-poll alliance but the Congress has not responded till now. TMC poll incharge of Goa Mahua Moitra has mentioned that the discussions are on at the highest level but P Chidambaram, the Congress leader incharge of Goa has said that he has no knowledge. His view is that it will be a fight between the Congress and the BJP. Those who want change will vote the Congress, not the other parties.
Mr. Chidambaram is totally wrong on this. Latest opinion polls have all shown that in Goa, BJP is much ahead of Congress in terms of vote percentage, but if the vote percentage of TMC is added with the Congress, BJP will be losing many seats making it a minority while the alliance can emerge with majority. These days, the opinion poll methodology has improved much. While the number of seats projected may not turnout to be correct, the percentage of votes projected, gives a fair idea of the trend before the polls.
Congress is talking of defeating BJP by taking help of all parties. Mamata is also saying so. Sharad Pawar is playing a role in ensuring that the anti-BJP votes are not divided. Goa is one state where the possibility of this alliance getting majority is bright and that can be done with the Congress getting dominant position. Left to Chidambaram, he would have liked to go for alliance. But this is an issue which can be decided by Sonia Gandhi and Rahul only. They should respond and try to work out an alliance before the nomination process is completed. The time is short but still it can be done.
Every political party has right to pursue its own programme and interests for expansion of its base. If Trinamool does it in Goa, there is nothing wrong. But the moot issue is to defeat BJP and with that in mind, TMC supremo might have sounded the Congress high command. Congress is not in a comfortable position in Punjab, it is not in race in Uttar Pradesh though Priyanka is trying her best, in Manipur, the Congress is still far behind BJP. In Uttarakhand, Congress has a slim possibility but there is no certainty of winning..
In Goa, the Congress-TMC alliance, if formed, has the possibility of routing BJP in the February polls. Mamata has agreed to campaign for the Samajwadi Party for the UP elections as Akhilesh has the best potential to be the winner against the BJP. NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is also taking the line, where the two anti-BJP parties are fighting BJP, others should support the Party which has the best chance of defeating BJP. In UP, the Left parties may support the SP candidates in large number of seats on the basis of this understanding. Seasoned political analysts of Goa believe that a Congress-TMC alliance has the potential to get more than 25 seats in the house of 40 and form the next government in Goa.
The Congress high command can take a decision by doing away with its ego of a fading landlord as Pawar has said. The elections in five states are extremely important for the future of the Congress Party and its role in the anti-BJP opposition. An alliance with TMC can at least ensure one non-BJP government apart from Punjab, where the Congress, despite challenge from AAP, can still win. In four out of the five states, the Congress is the main party of the opposition against the BJP. The Congress has a poor record of performance against the BJP where it is the main contender. The grand old party can perform better by having an alliance with TMC in Goa. If BJP is defeated, that will be a big jolt to the BJP and boost for the Congress in the present volatile political situation. (IPA Service)