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 Goa’s liquor stocks have begun drying up as distributors, wholesalers and retailers have resorted to an indefinite strike. In the run-up to June 2 Assembly polls, the Election Commission had advised the Excise Department to strictly adhere to rules to avoid misuse of liquor in enticing voters. Alleging harassment on account of the EC order the liquor vendors have protested the 100 odd cases that were filed and the 50 odd permits that were canceled. Meanwhile Sonia Gandhi has said the election will be decisive for Goa’s future and claimed that only her party can provide political stability in the state. Sonia Gandhi’s Congress has its cup of woes full as the NDTV reports that the Party is at odds with itself. Nothing exemplifies the comedy being played out in Goa better than the fact the Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane’s son Viswajit Rane will run as an independent candidate in the polls. He will contest against a dummy Congress party candidate named by this father. The NDTV also reports that the powerful ex-minister Babush Monserrat pulled out because his wife was not given a ticket and both decided to contest as independents. The exit of Congress MP Churchill Alemao from south Goa adds further to the Congress woes.

Offstumped takes a look at what’s in store for Goa as it goes to polls.

But first more comedy from the election commission which seems to spend more time screening BJP CDs than on the conduct of elections. This time the purported offender the former Chief Minister and fellow IIT Mumbai alumnus Manohar Parrikar. The offensive material – speeches made by him on the floor of the house as Leader of the Opposition. The crime – the act of circulating CD amounted to influencing voters. Well its Fenny Funny, after all its Goa.

Now if Speeches made in the Assembly amounted to influencing voters, one wonders what this amounts to.

The Goa Church has issues directions to its parishioners to keep away communal and corrupt forces in a circular issued by it.

The pamphlet was distributed in parishes and in public places by Goa Archdiocese’s Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP). Christians, who form about 27 percent of Goa’s 1.3 million people, are a decisive voting bloc. Father Antimo Gomes, the parish priest of Our Lady Immaculate Conception in Panaji was quoted by a Catholic News Agency

“I strongly feel that priests ought to be in the forefront and speak out in church over various candidates and political parties because upright layperson are still reluctant to come forward,”

If that sounded like innocuous advise The Save Goa Front has welcomed the directions issued by the Goa church saying the circular will boost chances of SGF. The church directions clearly indicates that the parishioners should not vote for congress, UGDP, MGP or BJP in the state, SGF leader Sidhanath Buyao said.

The Equal Opportunity Communalism in Goa takes an even more curious turn when one looks at the political reactions to recent incidents. While the Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane tried his level best to give an impression that tension in Margao has no communal colour – Congress Observer and AICC General Secretary Margaret Alva has said, there been deliberate attempts to create communal tension to polarize votes. In a news report carried by The Herald in Goa when posed a direct question by the media on why government has not pin-pointed involvement of Bajarang Dal activists who alleged to have disrupted a program organized by a journalist in Margao ,  Rane said,

there’s no trade mark on anybody’s fore head to make identification

Margaret Alva went even further to say

her party does not need to rely on advise of the church or a mullah, it is a secular state and accordingly people should elect their candidates.

If there is one secular issue that seems to dominate the election this time around it is “Save Goa”. From what ?

The contentious issue is the Regional Plan 2011 for Goa. The Regional Plan was withdrawn in the face of popular opposition but the Congress continues to draw flak on account of it. While the overwhelming political noise from the major formations is on the defunct Regional Plan, The Herald a rather refreshingly opinionated local newspaper seems to be running a campaign of its own from conducting a survey on sitting MLAs performance to endorsing specific candidates in specific consitutiencies, something unheard of in the mainstream national media. While being critical of all registered political parties The Herald seems to cast its lot with independent candidates.

Offstumped Bottomline: Elections in Goa with its fragmented politics, equal opportunity communalism  and merry go around politicians continue to be as confusing as ever before. With local issues dominating the public debate, Offstumped hopes for Goa’s sake it delivers a decisive verdict and saves itself from the Split and Run Politics of the past.

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