PONDA: The talukas of Ponda and Salcete are set to play a decisive role for the South Goa LS elections.
In Ponda, with the exception of Priol, which is included in North Goa constituency for the Lok Sabha elections, there are around 87991 voters from Marcaim, Ponda and Shiroda.
During the 2017 Assembly election, out of the total votes polled in these three constituencies, MGP got total 26704, followed by Congress 21917 and BJP 16190 . This shows that MGP is the leading vote taker and strong vote base in Ponda Taluka, which makes it interesting given the recent decision taken by MGP to support Congress for the LS elections.
Whereas BJP’s fortunes in Salcete dipped in the 2017 Assembly election, with Congress winning six of the eight Salcete constituencies and the remaining two seats won by Goa Forward Party and NCP. Incidentally, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got a decent foothold in Salcete particularly Benaulim while its South Goa candidate Elvis Gomes had earlier contested from Cuncolim for the Assembly elections.
While GFP is supporting the BJP, NCP’s MLA Churchill Alemao had recently supported Congress during the developments that followed the demise of former CM Manohar Parrikar.
In Ponda, while Congress won the Ponda seat and MGP won the Marcaim seat, Shiroda is set for a by-poll with former Congress MLA Shubash Shirodkar contesting on a BJP ticket while both MGP and Congress have fielded candidates.
Political pundits feel that BJP’s traditional vote base in Ponda assembly constituency will be retained while they will have a challenge to retain its earlier support base from Marcaim given their strained relations with MGP. Congress on the other hand, will have the vote base of sitting MLA Ravi Naik supporting LS candidate Francisco Sardinha and has the advantage with Sudin supporting Congress in Marcaim. The vote base in Shiroda appears to be split with former BJP MLA Mahadev now contesting on the Congress ticket and MGP’s Deepak Dhavalikar also contesting from Shiroda and while AAP too has filed a candidate for the by-poll, BJP has started campaigning heavily from this constituency, including including Independent MLA Govind Gaude.