Election for the 40 seat Goa Assembly are set to be held in one phase on February 4. The recent events in Goa politics and AAP's entry have made the elections in this small state an interesting affair. Apart from Congress and BJP, other major contenders for the assembly are AAP, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Suraksha Manch.
Notification date: January 11
Last date of nomination: January 18
Scrutiny date: January 19
Last date for withdrawal of candidature: January 22
Polling date: February 4
One of the 40 seats in Goa is reserved for Schedule Caste candidate.
Assembly after 2012 polls:
In the last assembly elections, which was held on March 12, 2012, BJP won 21 seats and formed the government with MGP. MGP won three seats while the Congress could bag just nine seats. Independent candidates won five seats in 2012, while Goa Vikas Party won two. BJP got 34.98% of the vote share and the Congress got 30.78%.
Manohar Parrikar was made the Chief Minister of Goa following 2012's win, but had to make way for Laxmikant Parsekar after Parrikar was made Union Defence Minister. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, both seats were won by BJP.
It is being said that BJP's popularity has taken a dip since Parrikar left the post of Chief Minister.
Latest developments and AAP's entry:
The perception is that the rate of development in Goa has slowed since Parrikar, who is a popular leader in the state, left for New Delhi. Under Parsekar, the alliance between BJP and MGP became shaky and the chief minister even sacked two Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party ministers from Goa Cabinet. MGP ministers Sudin Dhavalikar and Dipak Dhavalikar were sacked for expressing dissent against Parsekar.
On the other hand, Shiv Sena, which is an ally of BJP in Maharashtra and Centre, has forged an alliance with Goa Suraksha Manch, which is a party floated by rebel RSS leader Subhash Velingkar.
After success in Delhi, AAP has now turned its focus on Goa and Punjab. Party convener Arvind Kejriwal made several trips to Goa last year to garner support for the party. AAP has projected former bureaucrat Elvis Gomes as Goa CM candidate. AAP, in its manifesto, has made several promises to people of Goa, including a civilian airport at Dabolim and upgrading Hopsicio and the Asilo Hospitals to AIIMS like infrastructure.
AAP has said that it would set up 400 Vaddo clinics, like Mohalla clinics, across the state where free annual health check-ups for women and senior citizens would be held. AAP also raked up the issue of women empowerment in the state and promised to restore the dignity of Goan women and senior citizens.
All these factors make Goa Assembly polls 2017 an event to watch for keenly, not only for Goans but for political commentators across the country. Will BJP be able to retain its hold on the state without Parrikar or is there some other outcome in the waiting? We will have to wait till March 11 for the answers.