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Goa 2019 Verdict

Sway of Regional Factors

Alaknanda Shringare (ashringare@unigoa.ac.in) teaches at the Department of Political Science, Goa University, Goa.

Unlike in the 2014 Goa Lok Sabha elections, the outcome of the 2019 polls was significantly influenced by regional considerations, including the unresolved mining issue in the state.

 

Goa once again restored its old power equations with the North Goa Lok Sabha seat won by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the South Goa seat by the Congress. The Modi wave which swept both the Lok Sabha seats of Goa in 2014 could not create the same impact in 2019. How far did the absence of Manohar Parrikar, the most popular leader of the BJP in the state, impact the results? The post-poll data indicates that more than the leadership factor, it was regional factors that determined the voters’ choice of party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The ban on mining took a toll on the BJP’s prospects in South Goa.

The two parliamentary constituencies of Goa are now being represented by the two national parties, the Congress and the BJP, for almost two decades. The BJP has been representing the North Goa constituency since 1999, while the Congress has been winning the South Goa seat since 1977, except for the 1996, 1999 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The North Goa constituency with a large number of the presence of Hindu population voted for the BJP, whereas the South Goa constituency with a large Christian population voted for the Congress.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP secured 2 percentage points less votes than that in 2014, while the Congress improved its vote share by over 6 percentage points, as compared to the last elections. There are three factors which explain the defeat of the BJP in South Goa constituency. First, a sizeable number of Hindu voters have moved towards the Congress. Second, the anti-incumbency factor against the sitting member of Parliament (MP), Narendra Sawaikar appears to have been at work. Third, the mining issue seems to have worked against the BJP.

The post-poll data shows that a majority of Hindus, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) have voted for the BJP, while a significant number of Christians and Muslims have voted for the Congress. The Congress also saw a rise in its Dalit vote (Table 1).

The post-poll data shows that close to eight of every 10 Hindus have voted for the BJP in North Goa, while nine of every 10 Muslims voted for the Congress. In South Goa too, nine of every 10 Muslims and seven of every 10 Christians voted for the Congress. It is also important to note that one-third of the Hindu vote went in favour of the Congress. A possible reason for this could be the divide between the BJP and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), which resulted in the shift of Hindu votes towards the Congress.

Anti-incumbency

The strong anti-incumbency factor against the BJP candidate Sawaikar cannot be ignored. The data clearly reveals dissatisfaction with the performance of the South Goa BJP MP (Table 2). One of the reasons for this dissatisfaction was also the fact that he never raised the issue of mining in Parliament.

Issue of Mining

The ban on mining took a toll on the BJP in South Goa, with mining being one of the major economic activities and sources of employment. According to the Miners’ Association, mining directly and indirectly employs about 60,000 people, and its shutdown would have an impact on nearly 2,00,000 people, including the mining dependents (Gadyalpatil 2018). The Goa Mining People’s Front (GMPF), a union of mining dependents, have claimed that 4,000–5,000 people, who were employed with various mining firms, have lost their jobs, in addition to 6,000 truck drivers, while indirect employment in allied trades were also affected. The GMPF had urged people to “vote anybody but BJP” (Times of India 2019).

Mining was first banned in 2012. The ban was lifted in 2014, but it was only in October 2015 that fresh extraction of iron ore started. However, it remained operational only for a short period and the Supreme Court stopped all mining activities in Goa once again, in 2018, until the fresh leases and environmental clearances are granted. With a total ban on mining from March 2018 it became a major political issue. The BJP leadership both at the state and the centre promised to find a solution to the mining issue, but failed to delivered on their promises. The post-poll data shows that the issue of mining took a heavy toll on the prospects of the BJP in Goa, especially in South Goa.

A majority of voters are in favour of lifting the ban on mining in the state. If we compare the responses separately for North and South Goa (Table 3), it is found that a much higher percentage of voters from South Goa are in favour of lifting the ban. Mining, thus, became a determining factor for the voters while voting for a party. The voters are dissatisfied with the unfulfilled promises of the BJP government both at the centre and at the state levels.

Role of Leadership

The influence of Parrikar and Modi on the 2014 election results cannot be denied, and one would expect Parrikar’s absence to have an impact on the voting behaviour in the 2019 elections. The passing away of Parrikar created a leadership vacuum in the state BJP unit. After more than two decades, the BJP went to the polls without Parrikar. The post-poll data helps in understanding how far the absence of Parrikar had affected the voters’ choice of the party in the 2019 elections.

The data in Table 4 shows that more than half the respondents felt that, “it will be difficult for the BJP to survive in Goa without Parrikar.” To further examine the impact of Parrikar’s absence on party choice, the respondents were asked “how important was the issue of death of Manohar Parrikar when they voted in this election.” The responses given in Table 5 indicate that one-third of the respondents said it was an important issue for them, while close to six of every 10 said that it was not an important issue. The data shows that Parrikar’s death did not determine the voters’ choice of a party at the time of election. However, it is too early to make an argument that the support for the BJP in Goa is independent of the influence of Parrikar.

Finally, in order to examine the impact of the Modi factor on voting behaviour, the voters were asked whether their party preference would have changed if Modi was not the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP–National Democratic Alliance in this Lok Sabha election. It is found that half the respondents said that it would have made no difference to their voting choice.

It is evident from the above explanation that more than the leadership factors, it was the regional factors that determined the voters’ choice of the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The decision on mining did, and will continue to play a crucial role in the politics of the state.

References

Gadyalpatil, Abhiram (2018): “Manohar Parrikar’s Absence Put Goa Mining Sector in Quandary,” 16 March, viewed on 22 June 2019,https://www.livemint.com/Politics/57PUeq2EEvygt
48TJXRndP/Manohar-Parrikars-absence-puts-mining-sector-in-Goa-in-quan.html.

Times of India (2019): “High Stakes Battle on Cards as BJP Fights to Retain Two Lok Sabha Seats,” 10 March, viewed on 22 June 2019, http//timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/goa/high-stakes-battle-on-cards-as-bjp-fights-to-retain-2-ls-seats/articleshow/68349853.cms.

Updated On : 9th Aug, 2019

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