When Pramod Sawant,
the chief minister of Goa, was called in to fill the shoes of Manohar Parrikar
after he passed away in 2019, there was much consternation within the ranks
about how he would work through the multiple political dynamics of India’s
smallest state. On Monday, as Goa votes for its 40-seat assembly, all eyes will
be on this 48-year-old Ayurvedic doctor turned chief minister.

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Sawant is
Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate from Goa’s Sanquelim constituency and just
because of that, this small town in North Goa has turned into a political
hotspot. Contesting against Pramod Sawant are: Congress’ Dharmesh Sanglani, Aam
Aadmi Party’s Manoj Gandhi Amonkar, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s Mahadev Yeshwant
Khandekar and new-entrants Revolutionary Goans Party’s Sujay Gauns.

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In the 2017
Assembly elections in Sanquelim, Pramod Sawant won the polls with 43.04% of the
vote. At the second place was Congress’ Dharmesh Sanglani, who is once again
the party’s candidate from the constituency. AAP, making a big bid for Goa in
the 2022 polls, saw its candidate, Milind Gauns, win just 408 seats in 2017.

Pramod Sawant’s
performance in Monday’s elections will not only determine his but also the BJP’s
positioning in Goa. The 2017 elections had seen Congress win 17 seats while
polling 28.4% of the vote, while the BJP win 13 seats having polled 32.5% of
the vote. It was the political ingenuity of Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari
combined with the weakness in Congress’ ranks that allowed the BJP to come to
power in this coastal state.

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This time,
however, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has pledged that his party will be
vigilant in forming the government if the electorate delivers similar results.

Another challenge
facing Goa’s chief minister is the Manohar Parrikar legacy itself. The BJP has referenced
the Parrikar legacy often and has often cited the leader’s dreams of a Golden
Goa. To questions on how he seeks to deal with the Parrikar legacy, Sawant
said, in an interview with Times of India, “Every leader has his speciality. It
is true that Manohar Parrikar was our big leader. His speciality was of a
different kind. In my own way, I am managing my own politics.”

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Meanwhile, Manohar
Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar has decided to contest the polls as an
independent candidate after the BJP denied him a ticket. The former defence
minister’s son is contesting the polls from Panaji. Goa goes to polls for its
40-seat Assembly on Monday. Results will be declared on March 10.