If BJP President, Amit Shah’s recent speech in Vasco is any indication, it is clear Manohar Parrikar would take center stage in BJP’s Goa stint and that his speech cannot be dismissed as a mere electoral hyperbole. He minced no words in reiterating that government in the state (Goa) will “function under (Manohar) Parrikar’s leadership, irrespective of his posting”. Although this statement appears vague, there is more to it than meets the eye. Lack of Chief Ministerial candidate and an able people’s person who can represent vox populi could be one reason. The fact that a central Defence Minister is needed for state election campaigning signifies the political stakes involved in the state of Goa.
Why is Goa important for BJP? Goa, with its 40 assembly segments is of critical importance to BJP. Absence of anti-incumbency could be a cheering factor, but this is short-lived considering the dent which Congress could make. Although BJP has majority of seats in Assembly, Congress, despite its meagre assembly presence is no dark horse. Congress might not form government, however, with it’s over a third vote share could pose a significant threat to BJP. The Grand Old Party has been losing its sheen ever since it lost Parliamentary elections and has been riding pillion in every state elections thereafter. The threat to BJP from Congress is not direct, but in the form of a bulk transfer of votes to fledgling Aam Admi Party (mimicking Delhi). This also be a result of an internal nefarious nexus between the two with a common goal of causing irreparable damage to BJP. In this case, a disgruntled anti-BJP voter could look for options in upcoming AAP. This could cost BJP dearly, which means BJP cannot afford to lose its existing vote share even by a couple of percentage points. The reason for its loss in votes could also be the new outfit Goa Suraksha Manch by its rebel, Subhash Velingkar. This would embolden the ever enthused Arvind Kejriwal. As is, AAP could claim credit of being a pan-India party even if it wins a single seat in the elections, damage could be worse, if this fervor is coupled with any satisfactory victory of AAP in Punjab. (speak about ripple effects). Its own loss or AAP’s slightest victory could spell doom for BJP in the days to come. Due to the size of the state, Goa results could be sidelined, however, Parrikar’s image would take a beating too.
For the above mentioned reasons, Goa is as significant as any other election for BJP. BJP has a few “Parrikar-centered” choices to pick from. One, true and empirical projection of Parrikar as a Chief Ministerial candidate and thereafter shifting him to Goa as his leadership in Goa is cemented with absolute submission. This is the most preferred option. Two, pick another candidate to be face of Goa campaigns and rallies. This is evidently improbable. Three, tactically use Parrikar to represent the face of Goa until elections, and after which Parrikar could go back to the capital and either remotely control the state or make frequent appearances in Goa to continue providing his services where his heart is. It is not unknown that Parrikar was not interested in the Union Cabinet, to begin with. However, it was Modi who left no stone unturned to get the man he likes for the job he deserves. The only other person I think was Suresh Prabhu where Modi walked the extra mile to induct him into the cabinet. Added to this, Manohar Parrikar enjoys good rapport with the Sangh pariwar.
Why did BJP president travel all the way to Delhi to get someone to represent Goa? Manohar Parrikar’s enviously clean image and sharp administrative acumen could be one reason. And his inherent liking for his state, which is vivid from the fact that he likes to spend weekends in his home state. Let’s wait and see!