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History has not been kind to independents

Panjim: Call it a jinx or sheer bad luck, since statehood no MLA has been re-elected as an independent in Goa.Not only this, none of the MLAs, who won as independents, have dared to contest again as independents, some have chosen a national party while a few have hung up their boots.Following statehood in 1987, elections to the first State Legislative Assembly were held in 1989. The 2012 Assembly elections saw a maximum number of independent MLAs – five – being elected from Velim, Navelim, Fatorda, Porvorim and Bicholim. Considering history, one could say that the fate of all these five MLAs hangs in balance, as the trend is not that favorable to them.
In the 1989 Assembly elections, two Independents were elected – Carmo Pegado from St Andre and Ananta Narcinva Naik from Margao. However, Pegado joined Congress in the subsequent election of 1994 and defeated BJP candidate Govind Parvathkar from St Andre, while Naik did not contest, and Digambar Kamat made his maiden entry into the Assembly on a BJP ticket from Margao.
In the 1994 election, there were three MLAs elected as independents, they were Victoria Fernandes from St Cruz, John Manuel Vaz from Mormugao and Manu Fernandes from Velim.Of these three, only Victoria was elected in following Assembly election in 1999 on a Congress ticket whereas Vaz and Manu, who contested on Goa Rajiv Congress Party tickets, led by late Dr Wilfred D’Souza, lost. Vaz and Manu were defeated by Congress candidates Shaikh Hassan and Felip Neri Rodrigues respectively.The only independent, who was elected in 1999, was Isidore Fernandes from Poinguinim. However, in the next elections in 2002, Isidore joined Congress and got re-elected from the same constituency.
In 2002, again only one MLA was elected as an Independent. It was Felip Neri Rodrigues, who had quit Congress. However, he again joined Congress and in the following Assembly election in 2007 he won but was defeated by Benjamin Silva in 2012.In 2007, there was only one Independent MLA from Sanvordem constituency, industrialist Anil Salgaocar. His son Arjun Salgaocar who contested as Independent lost to BJP candidate Ganesh Gaonkar in 2012.Since history has not been kind to Independent MLAs, one might wonder what is in store for MLAs Vijai Sardesai from Fatorda, Benjamin Silva from Velim, Avertano Furtado from Navelim, Rohan Khaunte from Porvorim and Naresh Sawal from Bicholim.
Dr Rahul Tripathi, head of department of Political Science, Goa University said, “I see a limited impact of independent candidates in Goa this time as in majority of constituencies, the third space may be filled by new party-based actors such as AAP and Goa Forward. Still one cannot rule out one or two giant killers as margins may be too sharp.”Sardesai has made his intentions clear and will contest on the newly formed regional outfit Goa Forward but the others are undecided. Khanute and Sawal, who were earlier mentors of Goa Forward have of late distanced themselves from the party. Sawal has said he would join MGP but this is yet to be officially confirmed.
Commenting on this, Dr Ketan Govekar, Associate Professor and head of Political Science department at Dempe College said, “The trend will continue and to get elected the present lot will have to join some party. In the past most would join the Congress but now there is a trend to go to a regional party, there is an option now.”In the last Assembly election the total vote share of all independents was 1,41,517 which is 16.67% of the total votes polled. [H]

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