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|October 6, 1999||
Goa elects BJP MPs for the first time
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panjim
For the first time in the political history of Goa, the former Portuguese colony, the Bharatiya Janata Party has won both Lok Sabha seats in the state, defeating the ruling Congress.
Ramakant Khalap, former Union law minister who joined the Congress on August 15, deserting the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, was defeated by Shripad Naik in Panjim (North Goa) by over 36,721 votes.
State Industries Minister Churchill Alemao also suffered a big setback when his brother Joaquim, contesting on the Congress ticket, was defeated in Mormugao (South Goa) by around 14,457 votes by the BJP's Ramakant Angle.
"It was expected," said Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro, while dismissing the BJP's demand to step down owning moral responsibility for the defeat.
Calling the BJP's demand a cheap gimmick, he said the verdict was for forming a government at the Centre and not in Panjim.
The Congress lost almost all the 40 assembly segments, except two in North Goa and seven in the South.
Faleiro admitted that not expanding the Cabinet before the poll as well as the anti-Congress stance of the Church had affected the party's prospects.
The candidates, however, held party colleagues responsible for their defeat.
While Khalap blamed infighting, Alemao accused Congress legislators of working against him even in Catholic-dominated Salcette taluka.
"It clearly shows that people are not happy with the dictatorial rule of Faleiro and it is a clear signal that the ruling party does not have any command over the people of Goa," claimed Naik.
Both seats were held by the Congress in the outgoing Lok Sabha while in 1996, both the Congress and the BJP were defeated. Khalap, then with the MGP, and Alemao, then with the United Goans Democratic Party, had won that poll.
The wonder of the electronic voting machines and a much faster system of counting and computerised data-feeding than in the assembly election held in June helped complete the counting of 21 and 19 assembly segments in South and North Goa within four hours.
Khalap later told reporters that Atal Bihari Vajpayee's charisma, his [Khalap's] entry into the Congress, the Kargil issue, Sonia Gandhi's nationality and local problems were responsible for his defeat.
The BJP, which has made considerable inroads in the state in the past three years, has virtually replaced the MGP as the counter to the Congress. The MGP has almost disintegrated.
In Mormugao, the presence of Dr Wilfred de Souza -- who broke away from the Congress in July 1998 -- on the Nationalist Congress Party ticket, appeared to have affected Congress prospects.
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