Goa polls: BJP gets ready for post-Parrikar era with new script, fresh actors | Goa News – Times of India


The image of Manohar Parrikar partaking a frugal dinner consisting of ‘tambdi bhaji’ with rotis at a farmer’s home in rural Goa is an image that’s permanently etched in memories of BJP’s senior karyakartas who had accompanied the then opposition leader during his Jan Sampark Abhiyan ahead of the 2012 assembly polls.
Determined to return to office and in a conscious attempt at an image makeover, Parrikar had embarked upon a massive public outreach exercise, an exercise that led his popularity to soar and fetched BJP absolute majority in 2012 polls—21 seats from the earlier 14—for the first time.
A decade later, time has come full circle. This is the first time that BJP is fighting an election without Parrikar on its side to plan its battle strategies, draft the election blueprint, and oversee the war room.
As the Pramod Sawant-led government seeks people’s mandate for another term, BJP goes to the polls with a promise of good governance and fast-tracked development. Facing trust deficit, BJP’s advantage lies in the diminished strength of Congress and its inability to capitalise on the shortcomings.
In 2012, Parrikar put his social engineering skills into practice by fielding a sizable number of Catholic candidates and the strategy worked for BJP as all its six Catholic candidates emerged triumphant in that election. Though BJP has always remained a pariah for Salcete, which has steadfastly stayed loyal to Congress, Parrikar’s strategy of supporting independent Catholic candidates in some of these constituencies—it later came to be termed as Mission Salcete—yielded some success in 2012.“The idea worked at that time as people had trust in Parrikar.”
But BJP had to face the flak in 2017 for its inability to fulfil the promises made in the 2012 polls. Despite Parrikar, who was then the defence minister leading the campaign from the front, the resentment grew faster than expected and Congress, seen as a viable alternative, capitalised on it becoming the single largest party with 17 seats.
Though BJP had only 13 seats, the coalition MLAs reposed their trust in Parrikar extending support to him, and not the party, to form the next government.
Parrikar’s dexterity in forging alliances and his commitment to coalition dharma was remarkable. As BJP had gone to polls in a coalition with MGP in 2012, Parrikar inducted MGP legislators into his cabinet despite having a majority of its own, only to honour the coalition dharma.
On the home front for BJP, Parrikar’s departure has led to the emergence of multiple power centres within the party and the government. Absence of a unified command has resulted in the party’s central leadership closely monitoring party affairs in the state.
In addition to former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis supervising the state unit, BJP national general secretary (organisation) B L Santosh has been taking personal interest not to leave any stone unturned to fight the polls with strategic planning.
However, it is to be seen how the BJP leadership wades through the uneasy waters. With its “double engine” working overtime in getting winnable candidates and a fragmented opposition, BJP may find itself in an advantageous position in the post-Parrikar era.

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