On May 13, at the Dr Shyamaprasad Mukherjee stadium, the Bharatiya Janata Party National President addressing a huge gathering of party karyakartas gave a clarion call to them to work hard to win 35 seats in the next Assembly elections. Shah had asked all BJP workers to resolve to end instability in Goa, which only the booth structure and booth workers can do. He asked the 1600-odd booths to resolve on Sunday that in 2019, “we will not only win both seats (Lok Sabha) but when the next State Assembly elections are held, then the NDA will win more than 35 out of 40 seats and the BJP flag is kept flying high.”
As he boasted of BJP ruling in more than 21 states now, the BJP President had no idea what was in store or what was going to happen in the next 48 hours. The Karnataka elections threw up a fractured mandate, and BJP, despite being in pole position with 104 seats, saw the Janata Dal (S) with 38 and Congress with 78 come together to stake claim.
Many opine that the Modi-Shah duo failed to understand the importance of coalition politics in the big State. They assumed it would be another case of Uttar Pradesh wherein the BJP made a clean sweep. That overconfidence was the undoing of BJP in Karnataka. No doubt credit must be given to Modi-Shah for increasing the party tally from 40 to 104, but in the final analysis it did not reach the magic figure.
Following the Karnataka State Assembly election results, the significance of regional parties has come to the fore, with BJP’s alliance partners in Goa stating that the importance of State political outfits cannot be undermined in politics. In Goa too, regional parties like Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) played a pivotal role in the BJP-led government formation, even as Congress had the maximum MLAs in 2017 elections.
“You cannot wish away the regional parties. Look at the results in Karnataka elections and impact of JD(S). You cannot undermine the importance of regional parties in the politics,” Goa Forward Party President Vijai Sardesai said. Sardesai said that he sees Shah’s statement limited to encouraging party workers ahead of Lok Sabha polls. Another alliance partner, MGP, said that the regional parties will remain an important factor in Goan politics. “It is the dream of Shah to win on 35 seats. We also have similar dream to win on 18 seats during next assembly election. But the dreams have to be fulfilled,” the MGP President said.
“Everyone has to work towards achieving the dream. But it is also a fact that regional parties gain sizeable share of seats during Goa assembly elections. No national party can take regional parties lightly in Goa’s politics. What I have been saying has been proved during the results of last few assembly elections in Goa,” he said. Dhavalikar pointed out to the Karnataka assembly results, where the regional outfit JD(S) played a significant role.
One thing Shah has to understand is Goa is different from other States, it had given an absolute majority to BJP in 2012 but the party failed miserably to keep up to the expectations. Forget winning 35 seats, the party may even fail to get to double figures if they fail to make amends and respect the coalition partners.
The BJP currently has 14 seats in the Assembly and they have formed the government in alliance with GFP, MGP and Independents who have three MLAs each. Political pundits also claim that no national party can form a government without the support of regional parties.