Shripadbhau created history, but BJP’s popularity is on a decline in North Goa

Congress exposed to the core

It was undoubtedly a historic lead of over 1.16 lakh for six-time North Goa MP Shripad Naik, but it was not a cakewalk for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. The Hindutva party’s vote share is declining in three out of five talukas and the Priol Assembly segment of Ponda taluka. 

As it looks, the BJP has not swept the Lok Sabha poll all across the North Goa from Pedne to Priol. In fact, the colossal rise in votes favouring the Hindutva brigade was witnessed only in Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant’s Sankhli segment and Dr Deviya Rane’s Poriem. The exit of former Congress leader Pratapsing Rane from the political arena was visible, as it was also in the Assembly poll held two years ago. 

Surprisingly, in spite of Shripadbhau creating a record of getting elected for the sixth consecutive time, also with a massive margin by beating his own record of 1.06 lakh lead in the 2014 election, his vote share did not increase compared to 2019. It remained intact at 57 per cent. 

The rise in polling by a little over 18,000 was not a startling phenomenon in this election in the North because the number of voters also increased by 24,000. As a result, there was hardly one per cent more polling compared to the last Lok Sabha poll. 

In fact, voters hesitated to exercise their franchise in at least four of 20 Assembly segments. Top on the list was the Smart City of Panaji, perhaps because reaching the polling booths was not as easy as it was before. The capital city of Goa reported 6000 less voting. Second in the line was St Andre (3900 less), represented by Viresh Borkar, the sole MLA of the Revolutionary Goans’ Party.  

Yet another indication of Congress candidate Ramakant Khalap losing the poll was visible one month before the result, on the polling day of 7 May. His former Assembly constituency of Mandrem witnessed around 1900 fewer votes, while Mapusa, where the former chairman of the Mapusa Urban Co-operative Bank lives, also reported nearly 1000 fewer votes. 

A significant rise of around 6,500 voting was witnessed in St Cruz, where the Congress scored over the BJP. It was 11,000 versus 8500 in spite of this being a Hindu-dominated Assembly segment now. Perhaps it was a protest over legislator Rudolph Fernandes switching to the BJP along with seven other Congress legislators. A little over 5,000 more voters also came out in Poriem in Sattari taluka. 

BJP’s declining vote share

78-year-old Congress candidate Khalap, the one-time undisputed leader of North Goa, polled (1.42 lakhs) less than Girish Chodankar (1.65 lakhs), imported from the South, in 2019. The Congress’s vote share slipped from 39 to 32 per cent. On the other hand, though the 72-year-old Shripad Naik of the BJP got stuck at 57 per cent in both polls, his number of votes rose from 2.44 lakhs to 2.53 lakhs.   

However, the numbers can be misleading, especially when the number of voters coming to the polling booth changes. In such a situation, the per centage shows the real, authentic picture. 

If we go talukawise, the BJP seems to have been pushed on the backfoot in Pedne taluka, where both Pedne (-11%) and Mandrem (-9%) show a steep decline. That, too, when Mandrem also reported 1900 fewer votes than in 2019.  Maybe it was only one per cent, but the BJP also lost its vote share in Bardez and Tiswadi talukas. Also, in Priol, the sole Assembly segment from Ponda taluka included in the North Goa Lok Sabha constituency, BJP’s vote share declined by five per cent despite local BJP MLA Govind Gaude being a minister. 

LS NORTH 24 Taluka Vote % Click here for a better table-view

We have already seen that St Cruz was a big blow to the BJP, with its vote share slipping down by 18 per cent. Even in terms of votes, the ‘saffronised’ Rudolph could not impress his voters, and Naik polled 140 fewer votes than in the last poll. 

A much more significant blow, however, Naik received was on his home ground of Cumbarjua, where he lives. Also, his son Siddesh is the chairman of North Goa Zilla Panchayat. From the 61 per cent votes he had polled last time, Shripadbhau slipped down to 47 per cent, a significant decline of 14 per cent!

Naik, the union minister of state now in the Narendra Modi cabinet, also reduced his vote share in the BJP-represented Assembly segments of Lobo couple – Michael in Calangute (-2%) and Delilah in Siolim (-3%) – as well as mining-affected Mayem (-2%). Aldona, now represented by Congress MLA Adv Carol Fereira, also pushed him down by three per cent.  

In Bardez taluka, Porvorim and Mapusa are the only two segments where the BJP’s share has increased slightly by three and one per cent, respectively. In Saligao, it remained static at 54 per cent. The other four segments are negative: Siolim and Aldona (3% less), Calangute (2% less), and Tivim (1% less). 

The actual significant lead Naik captured was in the capital city of Panaji. It reported 6000 fewer votes, but the BJP vote share zoomed up by 12 per cent. It was at 42 per cent last time. A significant rise of seven per cent in the vote share was also reported in the neighboring Taleigao. By the way, both segments are today represented by the Monserratte couple—Babush and Jennifer. 

In the Assembly poll two years ago, the BJP lost St Andre to the RGP’s sole legislator, Viresh Borkar, merely by 76 votes. But in the Lok Sabha, the now-Hindu-dominated constituency polled 38 per cent votes, with an increase of three per cent in its vote share. 

The general perception was that the BJP would score more in the hinterland talukas of Bicholim and Sattari. But only CM’s Sankhli Assembly segment brought laurels with a considerable rise of 16 per cent in the vote share. From 64 to 80 per cent. Unbelievable. Also, nearly 5000 more votes. In the Bicholim segment, the saffron party maintained its vote share of 66 per cent, but could not cross it. And in Mayem, represented by BJP legislator Premendra Shet, there were two per cent fewer votes this time, 68 to 66 per cent. 

Similar to Sankhli was Dr Deviya Rane’s Poriem in Sattari taluka. In spite of her Congressman father-in-law Pratapsing Rane being there in the last poll, the BJP had polled 68 per cent, pushing the Congress down to only 31 per cent. Now, with the daughter-in-law in the BJP camp, the Congress is down to a humiliating 12 per cent while the BJP votes rose to a historic 80 per cent! Around 7000 more votes than the last Lok Sabha poll and a huge lead of around 20,000 votes!!

Comparatively, the mastermind Vishwajeet Rane could not give the BJP such a massive lead in his Assembly segment of Valpoi. The vote share rose by only three per cent, from 66 per cent in 2019—around 3300 more votes when around 3700 more people voted this time. The lead was also around 13,000. 

LS NORTH 24 Vote % Click here for a better table-view


The pitiable state of the Congress

The Congress and its candidate Ramakant Khalap performed so severely that Shripad Naik could comfortably win the seat for the sixth consecutive time by defeating the former union law minister and a roaring lion in the Goa Assembly at one time. Except for a two-per cent vote share rise in his Pedne taluka, he performed severely in every taluka and Priol. In fact, the Congress led only in three Assembly segments: Calangute (2157), Aldona (80), and St Cruz (2216)—not even a total lead of 4500. 

Though Bhaiee Khalap was expected to beat Shripadbhau on his home pitch in Pedne taluka, the BJP  secured a lead of over 13,000 votes in the taluka of the northern border of Goa.  However, in terms of vote share, the BJP lost badly in both Mandrem (-9%) and Pedne (-14%) segments. Comparatively, the Congress vote share rose by six per cent in Mandrem but not in Pedne (-1%). 

In Bardez, the Congress lost poorly in Tivim (-12%) and Siolim (-11%) compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha poll. The Congress could not raise its vote share in a single Assembly segment, including Aldona. Interestingly, in Tiswadi, like the BJP, the Congress also raised its vote share by nine per cent in Panaji and lost its share in Cumbarjua by 11 per cent. More interesting than that is St Cruz, where the Congress scored a significant lead. But in terms of vote share compared to the last election, the party lost by 27 per cent, from 77 per cent. 

Also, in Bicholim (-10%) and Sattari (-14%) talukas and Priol (-12%), the Congress lost in each and every Assembly segment. 

LS NORTH 24 votes Click here for a better table-view

RGP hits both the BJP & the Congress

Where did all these votes shift to? Obviously, the third player, who polled ten per cent votes compared to the Aam Admi Party’s insignificant one per cent votes in 2019. RGP supremo Manoj Parab polled over 45,000 votes in North Goa while creating little scare among both the BJP and the Congress camps. Unlike in the South, North Goa voters appear to have taken the new regional outfit seriously, even in the Parliamentary election. 

In terms of talukas, RGP’s major gains are in Pedne (14%) and Tiswadi (11%), followed by nine per cent in Bardez and eight per cent each in Bicholim and Sattari. Interestingly, the anti-migrant party has performed poorly where migrants live. However, it has surprised the whole political scenario with its popularity in the hinterland and Hindu-dominated areas. 

The party has also emerged as a vital threat to the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, led by the Dhavalikar brothers. Like how the party polled a large chunk of votes in Madkai (13%), Shiroda (12%), and Sanvordem (8%) in the South Goa constituency, the RGP has also polled a maximum number of 20 per cent votes in Priol. With around 4800 votes, it has risen to second position, pushing down the Congress (4000) to third. 

Being the home ground of MLA Viresh Borkar, it was obvious that St Andre would top the list. The RGP polled 23 per cent of the votes here. But this is not good news for them. Borkar had polled 33 per cent of the votes in the last Assembly poll. The regional outfit is down ten per cent here. Both the BJP and the Congress polled 38 per cent each. It’s entirely possible that people nowadays don’t take regional parties seriously in the Parliamentary battle and prefer to choose national parties. 

In Pedne taluka, where the unemployment issue in connection with the Mopa airport had become crucial, 18 per cent in Pedne and 10 per cent in Mandrem favoured the RGP this time, drastically reducing the ruling BJP’s vote share. The young voter appears to have favoured the young party. 

In Bardez, the regional party fared well in Siolim (16%), Tivim (15%) and 10 per cent in Calangute. But like Viresh Borkar in St Andre, in Manoj Parab’s home constituency of Tivim, he came down from 21 per cent in the Assembly poll to 15 per cent in the Lok Sabha. 

But in Tiswadi, the RGP damaged both national parties and pulled 12 per cent of the votes in Cumbarjua from both camps. Similarly, in Mayem, the party polled 11 per cent while causing more damage to the Congress (-6%) than the BJP (-2%). 

However, the actual loss to the regional outfit was witnessed in Vishwajeet Rane’s Valpoi. Followed by the winning seat of St Andre by Borkar, RGP’s supremo Parab had polled 24 per cent in Rane’s bastion in the last Assembly poll. But in the Lok Sabha poll, he came down to a mere nine per cent. That is undoubtedly a warning bell to the rising regional party.

The North Goa elections proved beyond doubt that the Congress is in shambles totally, where the national party could not find one popular leader who could take Shripad Naik headon. But that does not mean that the BJP is ruling over the length and breadth of the North district. Voters have also started shying away from the Hindutva brigade, especially when Shripad Naik has announced that this would be his last election and the party has to search for a new popular leader!

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