Goa Election 2022: BJP, Congress to go head-to-head, smaller parties may be key
Goa Assembly election: The Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and the Trinamool Congress could emerge as kingmakers in a hung election result.
The results of the 2022 Goa Assembly election will be announced Thursday, with counting of votes to start from 8 am. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party is optimistic of retaining control of the coastal state - chief minister Pramod Sawant has declared himself confident the BJP will return with 'a full majority'. This is despite exit polls predicting a narrow race and a possible hung Assembly, with voters unable to decide between the BJP and the Congress. Predictions are split right down the middle, with the Republic P-Marq exit poll giving each side between 13 and 17 seats. India Today-Axis My India and Times Now-Veto give the Congress the edge with 15-20 seats to the BJP's 14-18, and 16-14 to the Congress, respectively. ABP News-CVoter goes the other way, giving the BJP 13-17 to the Congress' 12-16. Either way, neither party seems likely to cross the majority mark of 21 seats in the 40-member house.
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And this means the locals - the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party will likely emerge, again, as kingmakers. As too could Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, whose foray into Goa could net as many as nine seats (ABP's prediction).
The MGP has already been wooed by the BJP, with Sawant (despite his optimism) telling news agency PTI "... the party has also kept open option of seeking support of independents and the MGP". The two did fight the 1994 election together, so a link-up is not unexpected.
A point to be noted is that the MGP is already in an alliance - with the Trinamool Congress, which will obviously make no deal with arch-rivals BJP.
Full coverage: Goa 2022 Assembly election
The Goa Forward Party - which was allied with the BJP till April last year, when it quit citing 'anti-Goan policies' of the government - is allied with the Congress, which, in turn, has said it is open to dealing with the Aam Aadmi Party and the MGP for more seats if needed.
The influence the GFP, the MGP and the Trinamool will have will come down to the seats they win; an exit poll by Lokniti-CSDS gives the BJP the edge with 32 per cent of the voteshare and 29 per cent to the Congress. What is important there, though, is the 14 per cent to the Trinamool, 7 per cent to the AAP, and 18 per cent to others, including GFP and MGP.
READ: No party wants to go with BJP, claims Goa Congress chief before results
All of this really just means that the battle for Goa will come down to the finest margins, and the Congress should be wary of a repeat of 2017. In that election they won 17 seats to emerge as the single-largest party but delays sealing post-poll alliances allowed the BJP to jump in.
For the BJP retaining Goa (and all four states in play) is key to establishing a benchmark ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election. The Congress simple cannot afford another loss.