BJP Sweep, AAP Debut: 3 Key Trends from Goa Zilla Parishad Polls

AAP won the Zilla Parishad post from Benaulim, its first major victory outside of Delhi and Punjab.

Updated
Politics
3 min read
File image of Goa CM Pramod Sawant.
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The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has swept the Zilla Parishad elections in Goa, winning 33 out of 49 seats, restricting the Congress to just four.

The other significant development was the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opening its account in the state, winning from Benaulim.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party won three, the NCP one and Independents seven.

Here are three important trends in these elections:

BJP Sweep

The BJP carried out a sweep of Hindu dominated North Goa, winning 19 out of 25 seats it contested. In the South, it won 14 out of 17. It didn't field candidates in sevens seats in Catholic-dominated areas in South Goa, supporting Independents instead.

This is a big win for CM Pramod Sawant, who has been growing in strength since he took over as CM following the death of Manohar Parrikar in 2019.

This result is despite the fact that Goa was one of the few states where the Congress gained ground in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning the South Goa seat. But soon after the polls, a number of Congress MLAs defected to the BJP.

The Zilla Parishad sweep will help Sawant cement his authority in the run-up to the Assembly polls due a little over a year from now. Both Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda tweeted congratulating Sawant and state BJP chief Sadanand Tanavade.

AAP Opens its Account

The Aam Aadmi Party's Hanzel Fernandes won the ZP seat from Benaulim in South Goa. This is the first major victory for the party outside of its two core states – Delhi and Punjab.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, AAP secured a little over 6 percent votes in Goa but couldn't win a single seat. It managed to get over 15 percent votes in a number of seats, Benaulim being one of them.

AAP convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal welcomed the result and termed this as proof of the party’s rise in Goa.

The victory bodes well for the party in the run-up to the Assembly elections. The party would hope to open its account in the elections and win enough votes to be recognised as a state party.

AAP has already secured that status in Delhi and Punjab and would have to do it in two more states to be recognised as a national party.

No Christian Elected from BJP, No Hindu From Congress

The BJP hadn't fielded many candidates in the South but it is interesting that in the final results, no Christian was elected on a BJP ticket and no Hindu on the tickets of Congress, AAP or NCP, indicating a near complete domination of the BJP over rural Hindu votes in Goa.

The only non-BJP party whose Hindu candidates got elected was the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.

What Lies Ahead

About 37 percent of Goa's population lives in rural areas. The rural population is comparatively higher in North Goa – about 40 percent – compared to around 35 percent in South Goa.

Therefore the Zilla Parishad elections may not completely reflect the sentiment in the state. Even within rural Goa, Panchayat elections are more intensely fought than Zilla Parishad elections, given the greater authority that Panchayats enjoy.

However, the elections are important in at least three ways: strengthening Sawant’s authority as BJP’s face in the state, another step in the weakening of the Congress and of course, the emergence of AAP.

The results may also compel the Congress to form an alliance with smaller parties like NCP and Shiv Sena ahead of the 2022 polls.

Despite its win in Benaulim, AAP may also have to rework its strategy particularly in North Goa, where it is comparatively weaker. So far, it has more influence in Catholic dominated areas, especially in places where environmental activism is also higher.

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