Mumbai: In the recent assembly elections in Goa, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did not win a single seat in the 40-member Goa legislature. Even Elvis Gomes, former bureaucrat and AAP’s chief ministerial nominee in Goa, was pushed to the fourth position in the Cuncolim constituency in South Goa, from where Congress nominee Clafasio Dias won by just 33 votes.
But these numbers do not tell the full scale of AAP’s debacle in Goa, the state where AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal campaigned heavily. Of the 39 AAP candidates who contested from Goa, 38 have lost their deposits. The list includes Gomes. The party put up a decent show only on Benaulim seat where its nominee polled more than 4,000 votes.
Expressing disappointment over the verdict, AAP spokesperson in Goa Ashley do Rosario said the party respected the verdict and congratulated those who won. “What we did was fight the election honestly. Victory and power by hook or by crook was not our aim. It was to change the rules of the conventional political game. We tried and were unsuccessful. We will keep trying,” Rosario said.
AAP had taken a lead in campaigning—it was the first party to declare its candidate list and the only party which contested all 39 seats on its own and sponsored one for the 40th seat.
In fact, the scale of the defeat has surprised even the other two main contenders, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress.
A BJP legislator, who barely won his seat in North Goa, said the party expected AAP to do better in South Goa where Catholics accounted for 36% of the population. “We also expected AAP to split the Congress vote which would have helped us. Apparently that does not seem to have happened,” said the BJP legislator, requesting anonymity.
A Congress spokesperson blamed AAP for spoiling the party’s chances on at least six seats where the number of AAP votes was bigger than the margin of victory. “In absolute terms they have done badly but on at least six seats where the contest was very tight and where we lost very narrowly, it is AAP which did the damage. In North Goa, we expected AAP to take away the BJP vote, especially those voters who are not traditional Congress supporters and who were unhappy with the BJP rule. That did not happen,” said the Congress spokesperson.
Paresh Prabhu, editor of Goa’s leading regional daily Navprabha, said he is not surprised by the AAP rout. “AAP was never in the contest to begin with. The Goan voter is very intelligent and wise. He is not generally enamoured by outsiders and AAP had this image of an outsider party. The contest was always between BJP, Congress and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party,” Prabhu said.
A BJP strategist in Goa, who was flown into the coastal state to fine-tune the campaign after AAP announced big plans for Goa, said both the BJP and the Congress were helped by AAP’s negative campaign. He confirmed the AAP’s image as the “outsiders’ party” also. “From January onwards, the typical AAP worker, wearing a topi and holding a broom, became a usual sight in Goa. All these workers were outsiders. Many of them were professionals specially flown in from other states, even from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Maharashtra. They never connected with the Goan electorate and rather alienated their party from the voters by treating Goa as just another state,” said the BJP strategist, requesting anonymity.