PANAJI: Till a few months ago, Trinamool Congress had no ground presence in Goa but now everywhere eyes go in this coastal state it is only Mamata Banerjee whose face is visible. The sea of hoardings are a result of Banerjee’s party trying to go national and steal march ahead of the ruling BJP and opposition Congress, to make its presence felt in poll-bound Goa.
The TMC has made West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee its face with posters, banners at every nook and corner of the city. Starting from the airport to the entire city, there are big hoardings of Mamata promising ‘Goenchi Navi Sakal’ (Goa’s New Dawn) and even bus stops, posters at roads all along the north-South Goa.
Banerjee is slated to be in Goa on a two-day visit starting Monday, where she is meeting Editors of prominent media, doing public meetings at a few places, reaching out to community leaders, and inducting more leaders to the party.
This is her second visit in two months. Prashant Kishor, the brain behind TMC’s "carpet-bombing" strategy in the poll-bound state is similar to what was seen in the run-up to the 2014 election when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was successfully projected as the face of the BJP and a national leader.
The BJP has started putting posters with faces of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, Goa CM Pramod Sawant and some prominent leaders talking about party's but this is no match to TMC's campaign outreach in the city which is witnessing a multi-corner protest with AAP and other smaller parties also in the fray.
The Congress that is seeing a lot of leaders jumping ship is way behind in even matching the TMC’s massive advertising outreach. There were barely any posters on display on a day (Dec 10) Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was in the city for campaigning.
On the ground, the publicity outreach of the TMC has caught the attention of local people and they talk about the money being used by the party for poaching leaders from other parties, besides spending on publicity.
But, will the party be able to open its account in the legislative assembly having 40 seats. Many local people doubt on the account that the party does not have a ground presence and that a well-planned publicity strategy is being discussed by various groups but when it comes to voting people will prefer choosing a party that can come to power.
“Mamata didi is everywhere in the city on posters, banners but there are no units at the village and smaller levels. Moreover, many people consider it as an outsider party from Bengal and we would want to vote for our leaders. Moreover, every party is engaged in buying votes, and leaders and people would prefer choosing a stable party. We have seen in the past, parties having 1-2 MLAs switching to ruling front,” said Prateek Satardekar, a shop owner in Salgonda in Panaji.
The people are talking about a lot of migrants from nearby states changing the traditional Goan culture and how several political parties are supporting these migrants to make their vote bank.
“Goans are very simple and fun-loving people as goes the saying about Goan is 'Susshe gaad' (laid back). But now people from other states are changing the culture where you can see aggressive behavior. This is a big issue for us who originally hail from the state,” said a taxi driver from Vasco.
In 2017, the state saw fractured mandate with Congress emerging as the single largest party but the BJP managed to form the government by managing the required number. Later, top Congress leadership in the state joined the BJP.
Ahead of elections, there has been a lot of political movement and is expected to increase as election time nears.
Several people mention that none of the parties are expected to get a clear majority this time also post elections, may see a lot of horse-trading but for now, the small coastal state is seeing a lot of attention with several parties looking to make inroads in the state.