A survey conducted by IndiaScoops.com in the four Panchayat zones of the Shiroda Assembly Constituency which will go to polls either in February or March – necessitated by the resignation of Congress MLA Subhash Shirodkar who defected and joined the BJP shows that the people of the area are totally fed up of the BJP and their alliance partners the MGP (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) and the GFP (Goa Forward Party).
The GFP has wisely decided to stay out of the by-polls, sensing the anti-BJP and anti-GFP sentiment across the state.
IndiaScoops.com spoke to nearly 870 households over a span of 25 days – over 260 in Shiroda Panchayat, about 200 in Panchwadi, 200 in Borim and nearly 200 in Bethora, Nirankal and Codar. The writing on the wall was very clear – the people do not want either Subhash Shirodkar or any other MGP candidate and definitely not Deepak Dhavalikar as MLA for the constituency. They want the Congress to give them a new face, an honest and hardworking MLA.
While 76 per cent of the interviewees were totally against the BJP and MGP, about 14 per cent of them said cannot say or not sure. Only 8 per cent of the people interviewed were against the Congress party and stated that the Congress was as bad as the BJP or the MGP. About 2-3 percent of the interviewees wanted a new party like AAP and wished that AAP would field a candidate in Shiroda for the by-polls.
The interviewees were not told that they were being interviewed for a survey and it was only through an informal chat to ascertain the problems in the area that data was collected by IndiaScoops.com.
Most of the interviewees wanted a new face and hoped the Goa Congress would select a people’s leader. “We want a dedicated, hardworking and honest leader, who is not after enriching his or her own pockets or furthering his or her own business and commercial interests,” this was the common refrain of the people of the Constituency. Shirodkar was on the receiving end of the masses. “In several terms as an MLA he has not done anything for the people. He is only seen before the elections. The roads are bad, unemployment is rampant and there are water and electricity problems in several parts of the constituency. We want the Congress to give us good governance. We want the Congress to BE with the people of Shiroda and not just focus on winning. We want a good MLA who will be with the people of Shiroda,” said Pascal Rodrigues of the Shiroda People’s Forum which is spearheading the initiative for a good, clean and hardworking MLA.
So strong is the sentiment against Shirodkar and the MGP in the constituency, that we are not sure if the candidates of the two parties will be able to even get back their deposits.
Both BJP and MGP will lose their deposits in Shiroda – Pascal Rodrigues (Convenor, Shiroda People’s Forum)
The MGP candidate Deepak Dhavalikar has started throwing around freebies and gifts to the electorate, but that has not made any difference to the sentiment of the people. “He cannot win our vote by throwing a few thousand at us. The MGP says one thing and does another. If they really want to contest this election, they must first withdraw support to the BJP and only then talk about good governance,” said a former MGP supporter who has now joined the Congress.
Dhavalikar plans a spectacular publicity blitzkrieg and has ordered over 1000 huge banners to be put up all over Shiroda constituency once the polls are declared. The banners are printed and ready, informed our source, who works at the press where the banners were printed.
The survey also established that caste politics will not play a major role in the by-polls in Shiroda. There is a sizable Bhandari vote bank in Shiroda, and Shirodkar has capitalized on this fact for many years. But the people only want development and jobs now. “We gave him several chances, but not any more,” said a prominent local leader of the Bhandari community in Shiroda, requesting anonymity. It seems that even Dhavalikar is not a favorite of the Bhandari community in Shiroda this time.