Friday 14 June 2024

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Politics | Lok Sabha '98

Sonia's rally to woo Catholics ?


Goans perhaps always think different, including the ruling Congress party here.

More than projecting Sonia Gandhi as the saviour from the Gandhi family, they expect her to win over its losing vote bank of Catholics, by addressing a rally in Panaji on 17 January.

But the opposition parties, by and large, disagree.

They have even shifted the venue from Campal grounds, where all Congress rallies are normally held, to Azad Maidan, a small ground in the capital city, which cannot accommodate more than 5000 people.

"Wait and watch", says Goa PCC chief Shantaram Naik, instead of stating any figure of the crowd they are expecting. "The venue is shifted for sentimental reasons", he says.

Late Rajiv Gandhi had addressed his first public meeting after becoming the party general secretary and the last public meeting before getting assassinated, at the same venue.

"Sentiments do not work in an educated state like Goa. If they are expecting to regain Catholic vote bank, they will not succeed", claims union law minister Ramakant Khalap. He had roped into Catholic constituencies in last elections to win the North Goa seat.

The major blow the Congress received was from the United Goans Democratic Party Churchill Alemao, who literally hijacked this vote bank in South Goa. "From religion point of view, it is as good as P A Sangma or George Fernandes coming to Goa", quips Radharao Gracias, the UGDP spokesman.

But the PCC chief thinks otherwise. "Her visit to Goa will get our vote bank, including Catholics, back to us from the UGDP and the MGP", feels Naik.

Even his political opponent and rebel Congress leader, deputy chief minister Wilfred de Souza, does not deny it.

"In fact that is the sole purpose of getting Sonia Gandhi to Goa. Otherwise why should she bother about such a small state, which has only two seats", asks Shripad Naik, the local BJP leader.

But Praveen Davar, who is presently camping here as Gandhi’s observer, claims that Goa is included in the campaign schedule only to complete her southern tour.

More than the Congress cadres or the local people, the media seems to be more enthusiastic about the rally, as many journalists from neighbouring Maharashtra and Karnataka states, besides private TV channels are expected to dash in the tourist state to cover the rally. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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