Goa Lok Sabha Elections 2024: From Coal To Passport Tangle, A Tightrope For BJP

Goa Lok Sabha Elections 2024: From Coal To Passport Tangle, A Tightrope For BJP

Issues like mining and the political reservations for the Scheduled Tribes are also set to take centre stage in the May 7 battle for the ballot for the South Goa seat

THE GOAN NETWORKUpdated: Thursday, March 21, 2024, 04:42 PM IST
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Goa Lok Sabha Elections 2024: From Coal To Passport Tangle, A Tightrope For BJP | The Goan Network

Margaon: A host of contentious issues, ranging from Dabolim airport and its future, Portuguese passport tangle, coal and dust pollution, besides mining and the political reservations for the Scheduled Tribes, just to name a few, are set to take centre stage in the May 7 battle for the ballot for the South Goa seat.

The burning Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) problem, tourism blues in down South post commissioning of Mopa airport, highway expansions along the NH66 et al are other equally important issues expected to come to the fore once the key political players hit the campaign trail in the run-up to the polls. Also, there is the issue of popular dhirios (bullfights), a craze along the State’s coastal belt, which gains prominence come every election, as candidates and the political parties try to court the bullfight owners with a promise to get the bullfights legalised by an Act of Parliament.

Here's a look at the key issues the parties have to address ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Coal pollution and track doubling: BJP leaders in private say the Congress juggernaut may run out of fuel when it enters Mormugao taluka, insisting that the ruling party is well-entrenched in the taluka with four segments of Mormugao, Vasco, Dabolim and Cortalim. Congress leaders, however, say the party has a lethal weapon in coal pollution, in its armoury, capable enough to cause damage to the electoral prospects of the ruling party.

The wagons carrying coal running on the South Western Railway tracks from Vasco through Salcete towards the hinterland, causing dust pollution, pose a significant threat to the ruling dispensation.

The Congress is set to make the most out of the issue and also corner it over the track doubling project, more so after thousands of Goans joined the historic 2020 Chandor midnight vigil as they flooded the railway tracks to protest and demand scrapping the plan to make the State a coal hub.

With the dust kicked up by the agitation yet to settle, the issue poses a big challenge to the BJP. With people opposing the track doubling project on the Majorda-Vasco line, coal and dust pollution is set to take precedence in the two key talukas of Salcete and Mormugao, which make up half the total electorate of South Goa.

Dabolim airport: Dabolim airport may cause turbulence for the BJP in the South with a couple of airlines shifting their operations to Mopa, triggering various uncertainties, including the looming question of Dabolim airport's continued existence.

While protests against Mopa airport were initially confined to parts of Salcete along the coast, amid fears that the new airport would adversely impact the tourism sector, the recent shift of both domestic and international airline operations from Dabolim has sparked worries among residents in South Goa. There are growing concerns about the possibility of having to travel to Mopa even for domestic flights in the near future.

Portuguese passport tangle: The passport tangle which continues to trouble the citizens, particularly those who have registered their births in Lisbon for the benefit of their children for the purpose of employment in European countries, remains unresolved. Despite assurances and promises made by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant of a swift solution, citizens face the threat of having their Indian passports revoked by the Regional Passport Office due to their Lisbon birth registrations, thereby depriving them of the right to apply for OCI (Overseas Citizen of India) status.

Tourism, CZMP, CRZ: Tourism stakeholders along the South Goa coast have been complaining of a slide in the tourism activity post-Mopa airport commissioning, raising questions over the government’s failure to bring tourist events in down South. The contentious CRZ and Coastal Zone Management Plan issues, faced by the traditional communities inhabiting the coast, including the fishing community, is also expected to come to the fore during the fortnight-long poll campaign.

Dhirios: Come election, be it Assembly or Lok Sabha, it’s not uncommon to find candidates and their parties trying to woo the bull owners and lovers of the sport with a promise to legalise the banned bullfights. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, then BJP Chief Minister late Manohar Parrikar was found hopping from one village to another around Salcete countryside, holding corner meetings with bullfight organisers, owners and fans with a promise to explore the possibility of legalising the banned fights.

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