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CUNCOLIM CONTEST: BJP, CONGRESS OR SURPRISE?





CUNCOLIM CONTEST: BJP, CONGRESS OR SURPRISE?

Cuncolkars are waiting with bated breath for answers to these oft-repeated questions – whether Congress-turned-BJP sitting MLA Clafasio Dias would help the Lotus bloom in Cuncolim after a decade or whether the Congress will maintain its stranglehold over the constituency. Or, whether Dr Jorson Fernandes spring a surprise by getting the better of the Congress and BJP players, making it to the Legislative Assembly?


With just two days to go for the counting of votes on March 10, the Congress and the BJP are not ready to concede defeats in Cuncolim, which had witnessed a multi-cornered contest in the February 14 polls.


Cuncolim is one constituency in minority Salcete, where both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress has not left a single stone unturned to win the seat. In fact, Cuncolim figures in the scheme of things of both the ruling and opposition party.


In 2017, sitting BJP MLA Clafasio Dias had won the Cuncolim seat on the Congress banner by a whisker, defeating former Minister Joaquim Alemao, who had contested the polls as an Independent. Five years down the lane, Clafasio has fought the polls on the Lotus symbol, while Joaquim’s son Yuri has led the Congress fight to retain its hold over the constituency.


The Lotus had first bloomed in Cuncolim exactly a decade ago when then BJP candidate Rajan Naik made it to the Legislative Assembly riding on a strong anti-Congress wave and a split in the secular vote. This time around, BJP poll managers are hoping for a split in the secular and non-BJP vote a la 2012 to regain the seat, on the assumption the party’s traditional vote will remain intact.


In this context, the party poll managers are looking forward to Trinamool Congress candidate Dr Jorson Fernandes to do what Adv John Monteiro did a decade ago, split the non-BJP vote and facilitate the BJP victory.


The ruling party, however, appears worried that the party’s calculations may go awry in the event Independent candidate Santosh Faldessai polls a sizeable vote to split the BJP vote and if Dr Jorson is left stranded midway in the campaign.


Says Clafasio: “I am confident of retaining the seat. Despite the presence of Independent Santosh Faldessai, the BJP traditional vote will remain intact. The votes polled by Trinamool Congress candidate will have a bearing on the result”.


Congress candidate, Yuri Alemao, however, exuded confidence that the people of Cuncolim will give a clear mandate in favour of the Congress. “The split in the non-BJP vote will not happen for the simple reason that the people had come out to boot out the BJP”, he said.


Former Minister Joaquim said that son Yuri will poll a sizeable vote, even in areas where the BJP candidate is eyeing for a block vote.


“I have my own vote even in areas where the BJP claims will go to them. I am confident that the strong anti-BJP sentiment will keep the Congress in good stead”, Joaquim added.


TMC candidate Dr Jorson, on the other hand, said the multi-cornered contest may even throw up a surprise result.


“Many in the fray are banking on me for their victory. They feel that the more votes I poll, it will help defeat Congress. I do not want to go into these calculations. But, in a multi-cornered contest, I too have a fair chance of winning the election”, he added.



THE BALLOT BOX


- Cuncolim had registered around 76.15 poll percentage, with 22,481 voters coming out to cast their vote on February 14


- A glance at the voting statistics has revealed that more females than males have cast their votes in this election


- Of the total 22,481 votes, around 12,505 females have cast their vote as compared to only 9,976 males, with women outnumbering men at the polling booths in Cuncolim

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