BJP losing support among Goan Catholics

The anti-Congress vote in 2012 gave the BJP a clear majority.

 
Panaji: 

Juggling the middle course to keep the Catholic vote was always going to be tricky for an ideologically-driven party like the BJP.

The clumsy move in serving income tax notices to the Goa Church — meant perhaps to send a message to its core constituency that it wasn’t playing appeasement politics after all, in conceding the Medium of Instruction demands — has only served to deepen the mistrust and the sense of rising insecurity under a right of centre government.

“Please give us the freedom to live our faith. Don’t interfere in our education and our work,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas had said, addressing Parsekar directly during his homily at the Old Goa feast on December 3.

Though the clergy believes Bishop Mascarenhas, who is secretary general of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India (CBCI), was speaking in the larger context of the churning of ultra-patriotic sentiment under the current government at the Centre, some priests from the Goa diocese, who promoted the BJP in the last election, have turned publicly critical.

Fr Eremito Rebello, for instance, who was singularly responsible for ushering Alina Saldanha into the Goa legislative assembly after the death of her husband Matanhy, believes that the Church and its institutions are being targeted under this government.

“Goa is being destroyed. But all the government has done is launch schemes with an eye on the vote,” he said.

He is firm that Alina will not have his support in next year’s election, ‘because she failed to walk in Matanhy’s footsteps’.

The anti-Congress vote in 2012 that gave the BJP a clear majority on its own and swept in a number of ‘Catholic BJP MLAs’, helped the saffron party breach a psychological barrier with a segment of voters whose trust it had been unable to gain since 1994, when Parrikar was first elected to the assembly. The breakthrough was significant.

It means BJP MLAs like Michael Lobo and Nilesh Cabral have a good shot at a comeback in 2017.

It could also see the BJP field candidates on its own symbol in most of Salcette.

Source: Times of India

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