In 2012, Navelim had its second new MLA in two elections after voting for the same face for 27 long years across six terms. Going by the numbers games, in the last three terms all three Navelim MLAs have been ministers. Avertano Furtdao is Minister for Labour and Fisheries, Churchill Alemao in 2007 onwards was the PWD minister and before that Luizinho Faleiro was the Education Minister. Faleiro was also the Chief Minister of Goa for 168 days in 1999 when he was Navelim MLA.
Surprisingly in 2017, all three are still in politics. Furtado vying for a second term, Alemao hoping to make a political comeback but from the opposite side of the River Sal and Faleiro who says, he is not interested in a comeback but is willing to contest if Sonia Gandhi asks him to. His presence of course will soar up the Congress chances here.
Claudio Perreira from Rumdamol who remembers how Alemao beat Faleiro in 2007 on his anti-Mopa campaign, while Furtado was tagged the giant killer after he beat Alemao in 2012.
“We remember how when Luizinho was in power, he gave jobs and did so much to woo youngsters with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan schemes of laptops and pendrives and then as PWD minister Churchill gave water tanks and water connections but still they both lost in 2007 and 2012 respectively,” says Alston Vaz, a voter from the Rawanfond.
While there’s a lot of development across the constituency, every segment of the constituency has different needs. The Rumdamol-Davorlim side of Navelim faces issues of poverty and the SC/ST voters in the area lack sanitation, approach roads to their homes and also access to farming needs. The main Navelim panchayat area is an urbanised village where construction, sewerage, highways, electricity woes and many other issues need to be addressed.
While Furtado has a website listing his work in the constituency and ticking off his manifesto promises, widening of roads, felling of trees, irregular and increasing constructions, bad roads are concerns that locals say have remained unattended.
AAP is also in the fray in the constituency through Siddarth Karapurkar who was an anti-SEZ, Save Goa Abhiyan, Regional Plan activist and also there is George Barreto for the NCP while Luizinho’s comeback plan is not clear.
But Sadiq Sheikh of Navelim points out that Navelim has a huge population despite Housing Board being pulled out from the constituency and added to Curtorim. “Navelim’s Muslim population is represented by Sheikh Jina who’s a part of the BJP. Jina as you know pulled out of fray in 2007 and supported Churchill and in 2012 again supported Avertano, on both occasions on the orders of the BJP High Command but it’s definitely not clear if BJP wants to wrest control of Navelim,” Sadiq said.
Will Furtado’s development card work? Will Navelim vote for another change? Will Faleiro attempt a comeback? Will Barreto make Navelim’s hatrick of MLA changes? The next few weeks will tell.