Contrary to some exit poll predictions which suggested a hung assembly in Goa with the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the Congress engaged in a neck and neck battle, the 10 March results gave a clear mandate in favour of the BJP which emerged as the single-largest party with 20 seats and a vote share of 33.3%.
The ABP-C Voter survey predicted 17 seats for the Congress and 13 for the BJP, whereas the India Today- Axis My India predicted 14-18 seats for the BJP and 15-20 seats for the Congress.
Having polled 23.46% votes, the Congress finished at number two position with 11 seats out of 40. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opened its account with two seats and a vote share of 6.8%, while Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress (TMC) — a new entrant in Goa — drew a blank.
Pramod Sawant, who took over as the Chief Minister of Goa after the death of stalwart BJP leader Manohar Parrikar in 2019, is all set to return for a second term with the BJP forming the government in the 40-seat assembly with the support of two independents.
The Quint analysed data by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to understand what this mandate means for Goa and its key political stakeholders. Here are the main takeaways:
Pramod Sawant Proves His Mettle
This was CM Sawant's election to win or lose — and with the BJP massively improving its position as compared to 2017 — he seems to have passed with flying colours. The party won 13 seats in the 2017 election with a vote share of 32.9%.
In 2019, when Sawant took over as the CM after Parrikar's death, he had big shoes to fill. Largely credited as being the architect of BJP's victories in Goa, Parrikar was a force to reckon with in the state.
The 2022 assembly election was the first Goa election in the last 27 years which the BJP did not fight under the leadership of Parrikar.
Sawant, however, successfully handled the growing dissatisfaction within the party ranks, and also a strong anti-incumbency sentiment due to COVID mismanagement, a failing economy, anger over suspended mining operations, and rising inflation.
What Went Wrong For The Congress?
The Congress party has gone down from 17 seats in 2017 to 11 in 2022. Even the vote share went down by 5.3%. The party failed to capitalise on anti-incumbency against the Sawant government.
Despite former union leader P Chidambaram camping in Goa to oversee the elections, little worked out for the grand old party.
The ambiguity around who will lead the Congress if it comes to power in the state also seems to have impacted its prospects. This despite its chief opponents – BJP and AAP – announcing Sawant and Amit Palekar as CM faces, respectively, early in the run-up to the polls.
Right before the elections, BJP heavyweight Michael Lobo along with his wife Delilah Lobo and aides Kedar Naik and Sudhir Kandolkar joined the Congress. While the Lobos and Naik won their constituencies of Calangute, Siolim, and Saligao, respectively, Kandolkar lost Mapusa.
AAP Finally Opens Account in Goa
The AAP winning two seats and a vote share of 6.7% is worthy of a separate headline. The party made its electoral debut in Goa in the 2014 parliamentary elections. They contested 2017 assembly elections unsuccessfully but managed a vote share of 6.3%.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, their candidates fared badly and lost their deposits in both north and south Goa parliamentary seats.
In 2022, while there has only been a negligible rise in vote share, AAP candidates Captain Venzy Viegas and Cruz Silva won in Benaulim and Velim, respectively.
AAP'S CM face Palekar, who is from the Bhandari community, lost in St. Cruz but the overall the election result marks the arrival of the AAP on Goa's political map.
This can be attributed to clear on-ground messaging by the party in the run-up to the polls. In additional to the trademark AAP 'freebie model', Arvind Kejriwal's party also focused on women by talking about cash schemes in their manifesto, and reached out to the Bhandari community by including 12 candidates from the community, and announcing Palekar as their CM face.
Lessons For the TMC
The entry of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Goa made this a multi-party election. The Mamata Banerjee-led party, contesting its first ever election in Goa, ran a high-decibel campaign, and forged a pre-poll alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) — a long term ally of the BJP.
The TMC drew a blank in the elections with a vote share of 5.21%, and there are various reasons behind this poor, albeit expected, performance.
The TMC entered the election only six-eight months before the assembly election, and with such limited time to expect a favourable result is a bit of an ask. It took the AAP eight years to win their first assembly seat in Goa.
Another reason is that the TMC campaign focused on occupying the space of the senior partner in the state opposition which currently is the Congress party. This was visible in their offer to forge an alliance with the Congress without having its own base in the state.
What also didn't work for the party is its alliance with the MGP. While MGP was once a strong regional force in Goa, it no longer enjoys the same status.
The MGP itself only won two seats as their vote share went down from 11.4% in 2017 to 7.6% in 2022, a fall of 5.8%.
The Curious Case of the Revolutionary Goans
Any piece on Goan politics right now is incomplete without the mention of the Revolutionary Goans (RG) — a party with strong anti-migrant stand, and support for the 'son of the soil' agenda — that has secured one seat.
Their candidates contested on 38 out of 40 seats in the state with Viresh Borkar winning in St. Andre.
Interestingly, the party did well in several constituencies and influenced results in several close contests. In Thivim, for instance, BJP's Neelkanth Halarnkar polled 9,414 votes and won against TMC's Kavita Kandolkar by a margin of just 2,051 votes. Here, RG's Tukaram Parab polled 5,051 votes.
In Priol, again, the winning margin between BJP's Govind Gaude and MGP's Pandurang Dhavalikar was just 213 votes. In this constituency, RG's Vishwesh Naik got 2,517 votes.
The results in at least seven constituencies where the BJP won were impacted in a similar fashion.