Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party
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|Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party|
|Alliance||National Democratic Alliance|
|Seats in Legislative Assembly|
|Politics of India
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Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) was Goa's first ruling party after the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1961. In the first elections held after India took over the former Portuguese colony, it ascended to power in December 1963 and stayed on, till being ousted from power by defections in early 1979.
The party has its base amongst non-Brahmin Hindus, a group that make up a large section of the poorer half of the Goan society, and was particularly deprived during Portuguese rule in Goa. It held on to power despite being affected by some defections, for much of the first two decades of post-Portuguese Goa, defeating the other contenders for power—primarily the United Goans Party (not to be confused with the United Goans Democratic Party, founded in the 1990s) first, and later the Congress.
MGP's first chief minister was the mine owner Dayanand Bandodkar, followed by his daughter, Shashikala Kakodkar, who ascended to power after her father died in office, approximately a decade after taking over power, in 1973.
After Shashikala Kakodkar left MGP and joined Congress, Ramakant Khalap became leader of MGP in Goa Assembly and from just two seats under his charismatic leadership MGP won 18 seats in the subsequent elections. As recorded by the Supreme Court of India in the cases Dr. Kashinath Jalmi vs State of Goa and Ravi Naik V/s State of Goa at one time MGP had clear majority of 25 MLAs in the 40-member Assembly of Goa, however by blatant misuse of his powers under the Anti Defection Law and Constitution of India, the then Governor of Goa did not make Khalap Chief Minister of Goa.
MGP's plank was largely based on populism, and promising a better deal to the Hindu economically deprived and socially oppressed sections in Goa. It was initially associated with a plank of merging Goa with the neighbouring state of Maharashtra, a policy it subsequently backed away from when the 1967 Opinion Poll held in the region voted against the merger. It has also supported the use of the Marathi language; though some interpret its stand on language and merger as being partly a means of fighting caste issues and countering the domination of Goa by the traditional Hindu and Catholic elites.
During the first 18 years after integration with independent India, MGP led the state government. Today, however, the MGP is marginalized when compared to its former status. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), particularly during its reign between 1999 and 2005, was showing increasing signs of having taken over most of the Hindu voters, and a large chunk of the party cadre. The BJP allied with the MGP in the elections of 1994, and made inroads into that party's vote-base, even though it won only four seats in that election, and the MGP got 10. Over the years, the MGP, which is symbolized by a lion and has a saffron flag, has been further eroded by the ascendent BJP. The crisis had even reached the point where dissolution of the party was discussed.
Following an election in the early 2000s, the MGP were reduced to just one seat (out of a total of 40 seats) in the Goa legislative assembly, while the BJP made large gains.
In the Lok Sabha parliamentary elections of 2004, the party had launched candidates in both constituencies in Goa. They got 5377 and 2207 votes.
Deepak Dhavlikar who is also the honorable minister for cooperation is the president of the party and Pradip Naik is the general secretary.
1994 - 1999
In the early 1990s, the BJP was steadily gaining strength in national politics and was emerging as an alternative to the Indian National Congress (INC) at the Center. Hoping to end years of Congress rule in the state, the MGP entered into a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in Goa. Considering that the MGP drew its support from the Bahujan Samaj and the BJP's demands for the demolition of the Babri Masjid, many believed that the electoral alliance would prove to be a tough competition to the ruling Congress as it would help consolidate the majority Hindu votes in its favor. The MGP contested 25 seats whereas the BJP fielded its candidates from 12 constituencies. However, in the state elections, the Congress emerged as the single largest party, yet again, winning 18 seats. The MGP bagged 12 whereas 4 BJP legislators were also elected. The candidates who won the elections on MGP ticket in 1994 were:
|Pernem||Parshuram Nagesh Kotkar||M|
|Dargalim (SC)||Deu Gunaji Mandrekar||M|
|Mapusa||Surendra Vasant Shirsat||M|
|Siolim||Chandrakant Uttam Chodankar||M|
|Maem||Shashikala Gurudutt Kakodkar||F|
|Pale||Sadanand Uttam Malik||M|
|Ponda||Shivdas Atmaram Verekar||M|
|Priol||Dr. Kashinath Govind Jalmi||M|
|Vasco-da-Gama||Menezes Wilfred Mesquita||M|
|Savordem||Vishnu Gopal Prabhu||M|
|Quepem||Prakash Shankar Velip||M|
|Poiguinim||Govind Raghuchandra Acharya||M|
Following the results, the Congress formed a coalition government under the leadership of Pratapsinh Rane. However, in 1998, internal differences between the party leaders led to a split in the INC. Former CM Dr. Wilfred de Souza broke away with another 9 MLAs to form a new political party - the Goa Rajiv Congress which grabbed power, thanks to support extended by both, the MGP as well as the BJP. The government lasted for just 120 days and the INC seized power in November 1998, just a few months before the 1999 assembly polls.
The 1994 coalition with the BJP proved to be a strategic blunder for the MGP, affecting the prospects of the party in the future. The national party soon started eating into the MGP's traditional vote bank. As the BJP improved its tally over the next few elections, the MGP's strength has declined exponentially. Many of its top leaders and ordinary cadres have either shifted to other parties or retired from active politics. Since the 1994 assembly polls, the MGP's tally has never crossed the two digit mark.
1999 - 2002
In the 1999 elections to the state legislature, the MGP was reduced to a mere 4 seats. On the other hand, its former partner, the BJP incfreased its tally to 10. The INC won a simple majority by bagging 21 seats and Luizinho Faleiro was sworn in as the Chief Minister. Fearing internal rebellion, the Congress invited other parties to merge with it or join the government. A few days later, the UGDP merged into the ruling party increasing its strength to 23. Soon, even the MGP joined the government. The MGP legislators who won the 1999 polls are specified below:
|Mandrem||Ramakant Dattaram Khalap||M|
|Bicholim||Pandurang Dattaram Raut||M|
|Marcaim||Ramakrishna alais Sudin Mahdav Dhavalikar||M|
|Quepem||Prakash S. Velip||M|
Assembly Elections 2007
The party improved its strength during the June 2007 state elections, in which it allied with the Indian National Congress party. The MGP got 9% of the vote and won two seats in the state assembly, a gain of one. The party entered a coalition government led by the Congress Party and also including the Nationalist Congress Party. On 26 July 2007, its two MLAs and two Independent MLAs withdraw their support to Digambar Kamat Ministry leading to the reduction of his government into minority. However, they were later wooed back and the regime subsequently completed its full term.
Assembly Elections 2012
Prior to the elections to the state assembly in February 2012, the MGP withdrew its support to the Congress led coalition government citing the medium of instruction as one of the issues. It then entered into a pre-poll agreement with the BJP. Under this agreement, the party contested eight seats (Benaulim, Dabolim, Marcaim, Nuvem, Ponda, Priol, Quepem and Thivim) while its partner fielded its candidates in another 31 seats. The allies supported independent candidate Nirmala Sawant from Cumbharjua. The elections were important for the party as it had to win either 3 seats or over 95,000 votes to retain its electoral symbol.
The party won three seats, all in and around the city of Ponda in central Goa. The Dhavalikar brothers retained their seats - Ramakrishna (Sudin) from Marcaim and Pandurang (Deepak) from Priol. Meanwhile, the MGP candidate Lavoo Mamledar beat Congress heavyweight and incumbent Home Minister Ravi Naik. The BJP won another 21 seats. The BJP-MGP alliance came to power with the support of 26 MLAs (including 2 independent candidates) in the 40 member house. Ramakrishna is the minister for PWD, Transport and River Navigation in the new cabinet. Pandurang holds the portfolios of Co-operation, Factories & Boilers.
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