Panaji, May 23 (IANS) In what could be described as a mixed bag of results, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa won one Lok Sabha seat, but lost the other amid a saffron tsunami in the country on Thursday.
However, the BJP won three Assembly by-elections in the state, while losing the prestigious Panaji Assembly seat, which was held by the ruling party since 1994.
Victory in three Assembly seats has now put the BJP-led coalition government in the state on a firm footing, according to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik won the North Goa Lok Sabha seat by over 80,247 votes against his nearest Congress rival Girish Chodankar, who polled 1,64,597 votes.
Naik, a four-time MP, battled both anti-incumbency as well as a potential backlash from the aggrieved sections of Goa’s banned mining belt, but managed to ride the proverbial Modi wave to victory.
“The victory exposes the Opposition’s negative campaign. The people of North Goa are with Modiji,” Naik said.
In the South Goa Lok Sabha constituency, sitting BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar conceded defeat even before the final votes could be tallied.
While Sawaikar polled 1,91,806 votes, Congress’ Francisco Sardinha, a former Chief Minister of Goa, got 2,01,561 votes.
“I accept my defeat. I thank everyone for the support and co-operation shown to me throughout my tenure as an MP,” Sawaikar said.
The BJP performed creditably in the Assembly by-elections, winning three of the four seats. The significant loss came in the Panaji Assembly seat, which was held by the BJP since 1994, largely represented by the late Manohar Parrikar.
“It is time to put Panaji on the development track after 25 years of inefficiency,” said Congress’ Atanasio Monserrate after he beat the BJP’s Sidharth Kuncalienkar by 1,758 votes.
Meanwhile, Chodankar accepted responsibility for Congress’ defeat in North Goa and in the three Assembly by-elections but maintained that by winning the prestigious Panaji Assembly seat, the Congress had “wrested the heart” of Goa from the BJP.
“As the state President, I accept moral responsibility for the Congress’ losses… But Panaji is the heart of BJP and Goa and the Congress has won it after 25 years. I want to thank the people of Panaji for this,” Chodankar said.
BJP’s Dayanand Sopte, Subhash Shirodkar and Joshua D’Souza won the Assembly by-elections in Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa, respectively, the latter two by relatively narrow margins.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said the three by-election wins, which took his party’s tally to 17 in the 40-member Goa legislative Assembly, would lend further stability to the coalition government in the state.
“The government will be more stable now with these wins,” Sawant told reporters.
According to political analyst and former Independent MLA Radharao Gracias, the BJP-led coalition government is now “mathematically” stable.
“To add to the mathematical stability, there is the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the Centre,” Gracias said.
And signs are that BJP’s local allies, such as Goa Forward Party (GFP), which have blown hot and cold against the majority alliance partner in the past, already appear to have fallen in line, especially with the mammoth victory projected for the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combination.
“As partners in the NDA, I congratulate you on your personal victory and your party’s win. May this historic win pave the way for even closer partnership between our parties in the state and help take Goa forward,” Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai of the GFP said soon after the counting trends suggested a big win for the NDA.
Sawant’s government is supported by three MLAs of the GFP and three Independents, which takes its tally to 23 in the 40-member House.