As the contours of the coming elections are gradually beginning to get inked, though they are just early brush strokes on the canvas, the grammar of how politicians are approaching these polls is getting clearer.
The results should not surprise anyone. The grammar is simple. Be on the ruling side at all costs even if it means stripping off ideals and ideology, party affiliations and loyalty with one non-negotiable objective, power and the trappings of it. The quota of 12 ministers in the next government looks like a glass ceiling on the verge of being cracked. With a fractured mandate looking like a reality and not an aberration, parties and politicians are looking at life post March 2017. While this would have been called jumping the gun in other circumstances it had indeed become "the gun" now.
As all of us in the media have been closely watching the man from the Mahalakshmi temple in Ponda, Sudin Dhavalikar who honestly feels that the years spent in prayer will be rewarded with the state's top job. With a sense of extreme dejavu Dhavalikar has got into the zone where he sees himself as the go to guy for anyone who thinks he can win but doesn't want to be in the opposition benches. Yes and that also includes those who you wouldn't believe would do an alliance with the MGP.
All this is of course with the crucial disclaimer that a lot of ground needs to be covered with a lot of permutations fitting in. Let's look at them from the least likely but not impossible, to the most likely. 1) MGP-BJP alliance does not work out. BJP decides to contest all 40. MGP will then contest between 25 to 30 seats and leave about 14 to various splinter groups and defectors from the Congress. The ones on the radar are Pandurang Madkaikar and Babu Kavlekar. This will enable Dhavalikar to extract some absolutely winnable seats.
Also do not forget the Prince if Sattari's Vishwajit Rane who is espousing loyalty to the Congress this week, the operative phrase being " this week". He wants to make this his election not the Congress party's and all alliances are welcome.
However MGP even with the support of the BBSM will not be comfortable in a direct fight with the BJP. It is to the detriment of both. 2) The BJP-MGP alliance is firmed but the MGP manages to extract more seats by almost arm-twisting the BJP. These additional seats like Cumbarjua, Bicholim and Quepem (it has also asked for Porvorim by the way) will come from MLAS of other parties. It is important to note here that Bicholim MLA Naresh Sawal and Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte are still Goa Forward backers. While Sawal appears to have moved from that position and is looking to contest on an MGP ticket, Rohan Khaunte is, with the Goa Forward but wants the new regional party to get its mass mobilisation in the villages and booths speeded up. It wouldn't be incorrect to assume that Khaunte is testing the waters.
And then there is AAP which is looking to announce candidates by October end but there is a belief that it will attract those who haven't made the cut in other parties and are moving out to get another platform to fight. Which is why AAP may keep some seats open till the last minute. So it's just another political party after all.
Coming back to the grammar of these elections, does it appear that the big fight of 2017 is about a better Goa? Does it seem as if any party has made these their priorities, such as 1) Goa's land for Goans 2) Zero-tolerance to endless destruction of forests and agricultural land in the name of development 3) A job creation agenda linking new investments to jobs relevant to young goans acquiring professional skill sets 4) The promising IT wave and the coming of giants like Google and Amazon should stop the exodus of Goans from Goa. 5) Finally the mother of all this, the preservation and fight for Goenkarpon.
It is up to us, the people of Goa not to make 2017 all about politicians making power deals, and get them to comit to the biggest deal we want. A deal for the people of Goa based broadly on the five points above. If not we will surely have a government in 2027 but no governance.