Local Goa News

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Goa CM toils to win Mandrem as odds stack up against him

MANDREM: The fight for Mandrem is become more interesting and intense as February 4 draws closer. While elections in this North Goa constituency have always been fascinating, anxieties have peaked this time around, as chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar labours to retain his position and his detractors work to defeat him.

A common complaint against Parsekar is that he hasn't done enough to reduce unemployment by providing his constituents government jobs, despite occupying the chief minister's chair. Even his close supporters admit that his alleged arrogance towards job seekers who've approached him, has further damaged his image.
While the chief minister has recruited some people from the Mandrem constituency, his response to most job seekers has been, "There are not enough government jobs for everyone". He, however, lists projects pursued by himTuem electronic hub, Mopa international airport and some starred hotels cleared for Mandremthat will open up employment for locals, statements that have, unfortunately, not gone down well with his electorate, a BJP supporter says.
Nilesh Shetgaonkar, a taxi operator based in Arambol, is quite bitter towards Parsekar and says he quit the BJP only because of the chief minister's attitude. He says the Congress candidate for Mandrem, Dayanand Sopte, on the other hand, is a warm person.
"Parsekar's straightforwardness has largely been perceived as arrogance. His popularity graph would have probably risen if he was a sweet talker. If the people of Mandrem want their constituency developed, only he will be able to deliver," a BJP worker says.
So, will Parsekar manage to retain his seat even as Sopte poses a tough challenge? Will the MGP-GSM-Shiv Sena alliance candidate, Shridhar Mandrekar, dent the BJP's vote share? These are the factors that are most likely to swing the result in Mandrem.
Although there are seven candidates in the ring, including AAP's Devendra Prabhudessai, the fight is between Parsekar and Sopte, analysts say. A lot is at stake for Parsekar, who seeks a third term as Mandrem's legislator.
The game-changer in what appears to be the toughest election facing Parsekar yet, will be the undercurrent of disunity between local Congress functionaries. The 3,000-odd MGP-GSM supporters could also play a prominent role.
"Until two days ago, it appeared that things were going great for Sopte, but I'm not sure any more," said a Morjim-based voter. Parsekar's public meeting in Mandrem on Tuesday was apparently so impressive that it motivated some local Congress booth workers to join the BJP.
Political observers say that Parsekar could defeat Sopte in 2012 only because the Congress' ticket aspirantsBabi Bagkar and former MLA Sangeeta Parabalong with senior Congress leader Ramakant Khalap, supported him.
A former Pernem BJP MLA, Sopte had joined Congress at the instance of former health minister Vishwajit Rane, as he had slim chances of getting the BJP ticket for Pernem after the constituency was reserved for members of the scheduled tribes.
Now, however, political calculations have changed. A few months ago, Congress ticket contenders Sachin Parab son of Sangeeta Parab along with Bagkar and Khalap, publicly vowed to support any candidate who got the party's ticket in Mandrem. But only Khalap has been seen canvassing for Sopte.
"Their (Bagkar's and Parab's) absence can't be directly linked to them supporting Parsekar, but a possibility can't be ruled out either. Hence, Sopte's chance of wresting the seat from the BJP depends, to an extent, on the unity in the Congress," a political observer explains.
Parsekar's growth on Goa's political landscape has been slow but steady. What's more is that he has never had it easy when it comes to winning elections. The present poll, too, will test his political acumen as he deals with the RSS working against him one one hand, and dealing with Sopte's popularity on the other. Many admit that Sopte has been more approachable and earnest than their chief minister.

TOI Goa News

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