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TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT?

07 Apr 2019 05:43am IST

Report by
SURAJ NANDREKAR and ANDREA FERNANDES

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07 Apr 2019 05:43am IST

Report by
SURAJ NANDREKAR and ANDREA FERNANDES

Sympathy yes, but Joshua D’Souza has an uphill task as Sudhir Kandolkar turns major threat. SURAJ NANDREKAR and ANDREA FERNANDES analyze the political situation in Mapusa ahead of the by-poll

Normally buzzing with activities, the Mapusa market is currently stuck with just one question - who will be their next MLA who can bring about change and development in the constituency.

Indeed, amongst the three by-polls in Mapusa, Mandrem and Shiroda, Mapusa - the commercial capital of North Goa is the prestige seat. 

The seat was with the former Deputy Chief Minister for almost two decades and losing it would be a major setback to the saffron brigade.

Especially, at a time when the BJP is missing their star campaigners, especially two such personalities who yielded great influence in Mapusa - former chief minister, late Manohar Parrikar and the late Adv Francis D’souza.

Highly regarded in Mapusa, Francis won the last State Assembly election with a huge margin in 2017, despite not campaigning due to his poor health. 

However, one has to remember, major of campaigning was done by son Joshua and his now opponent Sudhir Kandolkar - who the former might find to be a hard nut to crack.

Having spearheaded Francis' campaign for a long time, Sudhir knew the ins and out of late Francis' strengths and weaknesses and Mhapshekars point out that he will now use this to his advantage.

Slums major strength 

All the political parties have historically looked at the slum dwellers as a vote bank but the question in Mapusa is; will the slum dwellers and migrant labourers have a great impact on the upcoming by polls 2019? Mapusa has always been witnessing an increase in the slum population, which has now formed a sizeable chunk of the electorate. 

Out of the 30,000-odd voters in Mapusa nearly 5,000 are migrants who are being portrayed as game changers in electoral politics, especially to counter the local vote. Political pundits feel that the fact that migrants play a decisive role in electing the representative to the Assembly, cannot be denied.  

Few of the areas where mini-slums are spotted in Mapusa are at Khadpavaddo, Xavier vaddo, Dangui colony, Baman vaddo, Acoi water tank, Peddem behind sulabh toilet, Feira Alta, St Sebastian vaddo, Laxmi nagar, and Ghateshwar Nagar.

The Mapusa BJP candidate and son of Goa's late Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza, Joshua, who has been given the BJP ticket for the upcoming Mapusa Assembly by-poll, opines that every voter is important. 

“There is such rhetoric that is raked up each time during elections and it is being played for negative publicity. If you look at the past couple of elections the BJP has received tremendous support in Mapusa in each and every ward and based on the response I have been getting I’m fully confident that I will receive the same support for the upcoming by-elections. To me every voter in Mapusa is equally important, and I do not distinguish voters in that way,” said Joshua.

Joshua missing star 

campaigners

Though a Hindu dominated constituency, Mapusa has always backed minority candidate Francis D’Souza. 

However, what’s missing this time is the presence of star campaigners. 

Though Goa Forward president Vijai Sardesai had extended support to Joshua to take forward his father’s legacy, he seems to be missing in action.

Similarly, Calangute MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo has given Joshua’s campaigning a miss so far.

Sudhir emerging stronger

Though it would not be easy task for Sudhir as Mapusa as he doesn’t have that base with Congress for him to work on, he is trying to work on his own strengths.

Insiders believe, Sudhir also has support from many BJP karyakartas who are unhappy with “dynasty” politics.

However, what is Sudhir’s strength is his accessibility and nature to help people any given time of the day.

Another strong point for Congress candidate is that the former MGP candidate Vinod Phadke has extended him supported though he has not announced officially.

Phadke had polled around 4500 votes in 2017 and that could make huge difference.

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