Express News Service
MUMBAI: While the BJP is contesting on a Hindutva agenda in states like Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, in Goa it has changed tack as it realises that the road to power lies via the Christian vote bank. Of the 40 candidates fielded by the party, 12, i.e., 30 per cent, are Christians.
The Christians comprise 25-27 per cent vote base in Goa, second largest after Hindus. However, Hindus do not vote as a block. Earlier, the BJP had tried its strategy of Hindu votes’ consolidation in the coastal state but that did not work.
“With Hindu vote bank politics, BJP never crossed 10 seat-mark in Goa Assembly. This time, it has decided to accommodate as many minority candidates as possible. Whether that works or not will be interesting to see because other parties are also banking on the same vote bank in the name of secular politics,” said a political observer.
Among the BJP’s Christian candidate is Atanasio Monserrate, who has been fielded from Panaji denying ticket to former chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal. A BJP leader admitted that the party wanted to send out a message to the minority community by preferring Monserrate over Utpal.
Interestingly, Manohar Parrikar had a good support base among the Christian community, which helped him and the BJP remain in power for a long time.
“Now, Parrikar is not around while his son Utpal has posed a challenge to the official BJP candidate. By denying ticket to Utpal, we have sent a message to the Christians that Monserrate is more important than him,” the leader said.
The BJP had fielded six Christian candidates in 2012 elections and seven in 2017. Both times, all these candidates romped home. After 10 Congress MLAs joined the BJP in 2019, BJP’s Catholic MLAs’ in tally rose to 15.