The 3 dates are crucial in lead up to the by poll
March 17,2019: Manohar Parrikar dies ,leaving the Panaji Legislative Seat Vacant .
April 19th ,2019: Babush Monserrate decides to contest Panaji By Poll on Congress Ticket .
April 24th, 2019: Sidharth Kunkolienkar gets BJP ticket.
The Campaign :
Manohar Parrikar was an indomitable force in Panaji ,he was like Brazil of Football . He had the charm & charisma and great public support & the only one who could come close to that was the Babush Monserrate specially when it came to CCP elections,getting his panel elected every time since 2006. But yet Parrikar was something else in Panaji .The vacuum created by Parrikar was huge and his replacement had to fill himself into those big shoes .
The Panajikars were used to the style of Parrikar but were not ready to accept any other person who intimidated them .They say mans actual inner self is to be judged from the way he behaves not to his equals but to those coming from underprivileged and lower strata of society .Babush having the tag line of “Robin-hood” and “messiah” had fluttered the equations with his war cry .
This was the repeat of the showdown of 2017 elections with three new factors
a)Manohar Parrikar missing from election campaign
b) Babush On a Congress ticket
c) The diminishing effect of AAP who had polled nearly 2000 votes in 2017.
This battle for Panaji 2019 was like “final frontier” for Babush Monserrate , just as India was for Steve Waugh in 2001. Somewhere the flame not to hold back-was burning deep inside me .In complete defiance & against the wishes of politically non affiliated wife, I jumped in the campaign & took up the opportunity being the Election Agent to Babush Monserrate.The result was the “Cold War” like situation back home for weeks leading to the election.
Back on ground zero there were battles within the battles .All the other bye elections and lok Sabha elections were done in Goa and all politicians from either side had converged in Panaji for the battle royal .The filing of nominations,opening of election offices ,release of manifesto and so on ,the stage was set for the big day .
The allegations were retaliated ,eye for an eye tooth for tooth & in all this the things began to get merky. When we spurred in action with allegations, the same could not answered as the allegations were well documented and the rival was stumped .The door to door campaign was happening in full swing and the aim was to touch each and every voter .The scams were unearthed and the press conferences Were the order of the day .
Amidst this was another contender of Goa Suraksha Manch Subhash Velingkar who eroding our rivals chances day by day .Not to forget, the handing of ticket to Sidharth Kunkolienkar had also taken away sizable party vote bank in the “Central Panaji”. All this were added ingredients to our ever growing strong and meticulous campaign .
The ethos of politics is to run a campaign on achievements and reaching the expectations of the people during preceding 5 years .The Panaji people could only see wasteful expenditure plus arrogance .In Goa to be a good politician you have to be a good listener and not arrogant, moment that creeps in ,the people show you the door .Secondly money does not win you elections , you need to strike chord with the people and luckily the our rivals political incompetency had paved way for “anti -Incumbency “ .
Personally as a election agent it was an experience as well very tedious time right from taking all permissions ,attending meetings ,testing of ballot boxes and so on .
Both the camps were to close the campaign with a public meeting .Our meeting saw a sea of people & if the mood was something to gage from ,the writing was on the wall for Our Rivals .The campaign ended with some “staged drama” of an attack ,this was another nail in the coffin for our rival , infact every move of the rival was working for us and boomeranged on the rival.
The campaign ended on a high for us .
Election Day :
19th May ,2019 started with early morning prayer for Panaji ,Panajikars and my ever so neglected Ribandar.It was expected that Election Day would be a high voltage one but some how the voting pattern and the crowd gatherings at each of our tables outside polling booths ,the rival had run out of the steam .
By noon the it was looking like a totally one sided affair with the rival polling agents alienating the tables in Ribandar .With nearly the 1 to 2 hours still remaining the mood of our supporters was celebratory ,the photo sessions had started and one could see empty tables of the rivals.Barring one or two incidents the election was far peaceful.
At numerous tables across Panaji which were hot spot of rivalry ,saw eatables being shared by our supporters to the rival tables and vice Versa.The silent admission to the possible defeat could gaged as the tone and body language had not been the same from rival group when they had sensed victory in the past.
Dressed in a linen shirt to beat the summer heat, Babush Monserrate ditched his bike and chose his Toyota Prado as he went from booth to booth to take stock of the voting turnout.
The bastion was falling , by the time evening had elapsed ,people around the city were talking about our margin ,none were thankfully not talking about our defeat .The arrival of ballot boxes & sealing of the strong room ran late into the night ,draining the energy levels in me by the night fall.
The much hyped election was finally over.On the way back home I got got the information that the whole media were already declaring Babush Monserrate as a clear winner and the surprisingly the rival had bursted fire crackers signaling his success.In the end this bursting of crackers by the rival made him a laughing stock.
22nd May was the day of anxiety for the entire Team Babush .All the worst possible calculations gave us a victory but you need the things to happen ,to rejoice .The 22nd night was a sleepless night for me ,the win was everything that I needed after a very hard campaign .
Till last minute Babush Monserrate chose not to put a number on his victory margin but his body language clearly spoke of a politician on the verge of winning the Panaji bypolls.
Round 1 and Babush Monserrate was leading by nearly 600 votes which included nearly 350 odd lead in Ribandar.Part of Central Panaji also aided in continuing the lead . Round 2 saw the lead jump to nearly 1100 odd which included Mala ,Altinho and other part of Central Panaji .By the end of round 2 the rival had conceded defeat as Round 3 included StInez , Campal and Miramar area which bastions of Babush . A short tea break after 2 rounds and the and things started rolling again .Babush Monserrate has won the prestigious Panaji seat by 1758 votes .
The Fortress of Panaji had fallen .Meanwhile in the Lok Sabha elections BJP had infact taken lead of around 2000 odd votes . The Panaji By poll showed a deficit of more than 3000 votes for Sidharth Kunkoelikar in comparison to Lok Sabha voting.Another lesson from the electorate that you cannot win elections on party lines , and you can’t take party voters for granted.
Special mention to the man called Manohar Parrikar who had that aura and the subjects to that aura were earned over the years .The aura of the Master cannot worn by a servant and cannot imitate the master.The result is you fall flat on your face. Politics is reverse from Corona in a way that if you maintain social distance from your voter ,the voter quarantines you for next term .
The official results were declared by 4pm & the massive road rally followed which went for around for 5/6 hours.Entire Panaji was rejoicing and streets were flooded with people welcoming the New MLA .The new energy , the new belief has entered the people’s life after dynamism & pro activeness to work for his people has been synonymous to Babush Monserrate.
Lastly after all celebrations when I checked my mobile ,there messages & wishes from people who one point in time had ridiculed me for supporting same Babush Monserrate in 2017 and start of this campaign .This shows how public perception is fickle and can change according to success in the electorate politics. My obeisance to the Democracy and electorate politics of this great nation.