Mon, 27 May, 2019

BJP, Cong wary of Dhavalikar, AAP factor in South

20th April 2019, 03:58 Hrs

the goan I network

MARGAO

Will the Dhavalikar and AAP factor make or mar the prospects of the two main contestants in the fray – sitting MP Narendra Sawaikar and three-time former MP Francisco 

Sardinha?

Just four days to go for the April 23 polls for the South Goa Lok Sabha seat, and the Dhavalikar and AAP factor has become the subject matter of debate in political circles, notwithstanding that the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress seemed to downplay these factors.

As things stand today, the Congress seemed wary of the AAP factor, especially in minority Salcete. Unlike 2014 Lok Sabha poll, when the BJP’s campaign received a boost with then MLAs Caitu Silva, Mickky Pacheco and Avertano Furtado slogging on the ground, the sitting MP is facing an uphill task to penetrate into the minority heartland. 

Other than the party’s traditional vote-base spread across Margao, Fatorda, Navelim, Cuncolim and Curtorim, BJP’s campaign is nowhere visible deep inside the minority heartland.

Sitting MP Sawaikar in particular and the BJP leadership in general are aware of the ground reality. And, that’s precisely the reason why the AAP factor is crucial for the success of the sitting MP in the coming election. 

With AAP candidate Elvis Gomes and his volunteers working overtime for the success of the party, the BJP leadership feels that any significant inroads in Salcete by AAP will definitely help the party in the ultimate analysis.

In fact, with the Dhavalikar factor staring at the BJP in the hinterland Assembly seats, spread across Ponda and Sanguem talukas, observers say the sitting MP cannot afford to ignore the Dhavalikar factor, but only that the AAP factor rings in good news in Salcete.

The Congress, on the other hand, is banking on the Dhavalikar factor to stop the BJP’s free run in the hinterland talukas of Ponda and Sanguem, which plays host to five crucial Assembly segments. Aware that sitting MP Narendra Sawaikar had won South Goa seat in 2014 by a margin of 32,000 votes, with one sided battle in the hinterland Assembly segments such as Madkai and Sanvordem, the Congress is pinning hopes on the Dhavalikar brothers to contain the damage this time round. The reason is simple. In 2014, Sawaikar had romped home with a comfortable 32,000 vote margin, of which around 22,000 vote lead had alone come from the two segments of Madkai and Sanvordem.

Leave alone getting a lead in Madkai, Congress insiders say Sardinha will win half the battle even if the BJP’s margin is reduced substantially in Madkai and Sanvordem and to some extent in Ponda, Shiroda and Sanguem. The Dhavalikar factor is crucial for the Congress for another reason. With the BJP going to the electorate seeking votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leaders pin their hopes on the Dhavalikars to negate any outside influence on 

the voters of these Assembly segments.

The Congress, however, will have to grapple with the AAP factor on its home turf Salcete. After its electoral debut in 2014, Aam Aadmi Party rise has been slow and steady in the minority areas over the last five years. This was evident in the last Assembly election when AAP finished as a runner up in the minority heartland of Benaulim and also succeeded in polling sizeable votes in Cuncolim, Nuvem, Velim and not to mention Curtorim and Navelim. In fact, statistics reveal that AAP had polled total 21,000-odd votes in Salcete in the eight Assembly constituencies of Salcete in the 2017 Assembly election.

Political observers feel that the Congress may find itself in a danger zone if the AAP candidate crosses the 20,000-vote mark, a situation which is expected to bring the BJP right back in the reckoning, leaving Congress leaders with no option than to contain the AAP growing presence in their backyard.