Goa: MGP struggles to maintain identity

The forthcoming Goa legislative assembly elections are going to be an acid test for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) to retain its symbol of `Lion`.

Last Updated: Nov 10, 2011, 12:36 PM IST

Panaji: In the Golden Jubilee Year of Goa`s
liberation, the regional party which was first to rule the
former Portuguese colony in 1963, is now struggling to
maintain its identity.

The forthcoming Goa legislative assembly elections are
going to be an acid test for the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak
Party (MGP) to retain its symbol of `Lion`, which is
synonymous with the party since its inception in 1961.

MGP General Secretary Lavu Mamlatdar said the party will
have to win at least 85,000 votes or two seats in the 2012
polls to retain the `ubiquitous` symbol.

"We are strong in 15 out of 40 constituencies and should
be able to get 5 seats with ease," said Mamlatdar, a former
police officer, who has been associated with the party for the
last five years.

In the first elections held after India took over the
former Portuguese colony, MGP ascended to power in December
1963 and stayed on, till being ousted from power by defections
in early 1979 and since then is caught in the downward spiral.

"A political party has to be like a living being. It
should adapt to the changes. MGP failed to do it and hence is
in shambles now," said Ramakant Khalap, a former MGP stalwart
and now a Congress leader.

MGP catapulted to power on the euphoria generated post
liberation in 1963 and was led by Dayanand Bandodkar who
became chief minister, succeed by his daughter Shashikala
Kakodkar who was replaced by Khalap in 1973 before Congress
outsmarted it in 1979.

The party was propagating merger of Goa with Maharashtra
but did not find favour in the opinion poll held in 1967.

Though Goans had preferred to remain an independent
entity, the MGP managed to win the next state legislative
assembly polls.

Khalap said, "The change in nomenclature and ideology
would have saved MGP from reaching this stage where it is now
confined to only two constituencies".

"People, especially younger generation cannot relate
themselves to the nomenclature Maharashtrawadi
(pro-Maharashtra). There was suggestion to change the name to
Maha-Rashtrawadi or something like Rashtrawadi (nationalist),"
said Khalap, who went on to become Union Law Minister on MGP`s
ticket.

The party, which is now in alliance with the
Congress-led government, had joined hands with BJP in 1994
elections.

Pointing out that association with BJP was one of the
major factors which badly affected the party`s voters base,
Khalap said, "BJP was a major stumbling block for MGP. After
emergence of BJP, MGP voters started shifting towards that
party".

The party which is now trying to revisit its strategy
was once considered as a favourite party among non-Brahmin
Hindus but not now.

PTI