An island’s strategy signals a vote change
While many politicians were playing their fast game changing their parties to new ones for better “opportunities afforded to them”, voters on Goa’s largest island, Chorao of Mayem, decided for the first time in Goa to engage in “strategic voting”. to send their representative to the Assembly. VIKANT SAHAY found out from the inhabitants of Chorao what the strategy was and how it was implemented.
As politicians have frequently changed sides in recent Assembly elections, voters on Chorao, Goa’s largest island with a population of around 6,500 people decided to vote ‘strategically’ to choose their candidate and this n was not a random vote. This was done with a strategy that was created by a 7-member team from ‘Lights of Chorao (LoC)’.
For them, Mission Chorao 2022 was an innovative initiative on the model of “strategic voting” or “tactical voting” common in the first world democracies and undertaken for the first time in Chorao to educate voters on their voting choices and that , instead of just personal randomness, their vote could be consciously cast in favor of a greater common good of our island of Chorao and all its inhabitants.
According to the LoC, it is their small contribution to overcoming an inherent weakness in our Indian first-past-the-post electoral system, and fostering people-centred governance and progress rather than the tradition of politics that has prevailed so far. . They hoped that this initiative would succeed and spread to other parts of Goa and beyond.
LoC members revealed to the Herald that two weeks before the election, the young members of their group highlighted an opportunity to ensure the success of the “need for change” by channeling a maximum of 1,200 votes to the “best candidate in the opposition having the best chance of winning”.
The LoC hopes that their sincere and intense efforts in this election will bear fruit in positive change for Chorao. “We understand that an undesirable outcome on March 10 could have repercussions, but we believe our work will help strengthen our democracy through the active participation of people and by holding our political leaders publicly accountable over the next five years and beyond. -of the. With this in mind, we intend to create a mechanism for extracting public accountability on Chorao’s top priorities through regular (preferably bi-monthly) progress reports to be published by whoever becomes our next MP Mayem said a LoC member.
Moreover, most importantly, regardless of developments at the national or state level or even at the level of our constituency, no one had shown any interest in solving Chorao’s problems in all these years. Therefore, this election demanded that we focus only on Chorao, regardless of the parties, their past deeds and whatever they might do in the future. Thus was born “Mission Chorao 2022”. However, before the end of Election Day (February 14), rumors began to circulate that the core team had been planted by a politician. “We said categorically that this was a peoples-led initiative and there was no political backing or backing,” said one of LoC’s core team members.
To begin with, the LoC had collected information on the three candidates, their past social work and election performance, their manifestos, and more. Around 30 people from Chorao gathered for a three-hour work meeting on the evening of February 4. in which the mission was introduced. The information gathered was presented to them and discussed to finalize a consensual candidate to materialize the concept of “need for change”.
During the above meetings, they also discussed, shortlisted and prioritized the three main themes and the 10 priorities of Chorao and its people to demand from the candidates before the elections and, more importantly, after for the elections. next five years.
“For a long time, our democracy has been manipulated from the bottom up by the power of money, the psychosis of fear and the exploitation of the main weaknesses of our electoral system, that is to say the divided vote by an unlimited number of candidates per seat and the ‘first to one round’ system”, said Vincent. Paul Toscano, moderator, LoC Mission Chorao 2022, Pandawaddo in Chorao.
He further added that “in every election, our politicians instead of serving the people have misused their democratic power for five years without any public accountability in return. It is high time the people took their power back from the politicians using tools like “strategic voting” in every election and then demanding effective governance from the winner through a transparent progress reporting system for the public.
According to the LoC, over the past 15 years, Chorao has struggled for the most basic amenities such as emergency medical services, efficient ferry services, scientific garbage management, threat of stray livestock, public transport , etc., despite numerous representations, requests, complaints and even protests by the people.
They further added that being only one Panchayat out of 7 in Mayem constituency and as its only island, it ranks lowest in the priorities of our last 3 MPs. From then on, the need for change was strongly felt during these legislative elections of 2022. However, voters were divided in Chorao and there was a risk of “need for change” due to the division of votes.
Lisa Dias-Noronha, a German teacher and LoC executive committee member of Conoldem in Chorao, told Herald that “this is the first time in my election career that I have objectively studied candidates and voting strategies. through the efforts and contributions of various professionals in the village, where a digital platform that initially connected us during the initial severe lockdowns, has evolved into a platform for us to participate and make a meaningful contribution to governance of our constituency to begin with, without belonging to any political party.
The idea of forming the LoC was floated by Xavier D’Mello, 27, an aspiring chartered accountant and executive committee member of the LoC from Madel to Chorao and no wonder he is referred to by his core team members as “PK” (read Prashant Kishor).
“The fear that the votes would split between two or three candidates seemed much stronger after we began our analysis at the LoC forum. This has been the reality of our recent elections in Zilla Parishad where 50% of the votes were split between two candidates and a third candidate (which the majority did not accept) benefited and won,” said Xavier D’ Mello.
He further stressed that “we didn’t want this to happen again. I hope that exercises like LoC’s strategic voting initiative to educate voters will increase across Goa so that our beautiful state and its people benefit instead of unscrupulous politicians.
Esperance Rodrigues, a retired teacher from Ambarim in Chorao, told the Herald that: “Personally, for me, the 2022 election was a totally different ball game, a very hands-on learning experience on the spot. under the direction of LoC. Without hesitation, I would say it was nothing less than a ‘Prashant Kishor’ experience. Hats off to the core team for all the spade work, advice, canvassing and above all, having convinced nearly 90% of our employees to trust the consensual choice of candidate.
Eusebio D’Silva, who runs Zeb Adventure Tours from Madel in Chorao, believes that, like many others, he too had already decided to vote for another party before the LoC scheduled a meeting to decide who would be the best, for all of us as a community and for Chorao in general. “My vote would have been a complete waste if LoC hadn’t had this brilliant idea of rating each of the contestants on their personal strength, hard work, sincerity, ability to win, etc. I want to thank them for everything what they have done and will continue to do in the future. Their honesty and dedication to the community and the island in general is priceless,” said Eusebio D’Silva.
Dr Veronica Nunes, BHMS and member of the executive committee of the LoC de Saude in Chorao told the Herald that: “For the first time this election, I felt very happy to vote for a candidate who was chosen by a few people. knowledgeable members of our community working tirelessly for days, studying the credentials of all candidates, including their social work and their ability to be the voice of the people in the Legislative Assembly.
She added that “all this information was discussed with representatives from all neighborhoods of Chorao to finalize a candidate that we all voted as a community without any personal gain but for the development of our constituency and especially our island. -town”.
Savio Colaco, an independent creative consultant from Bautona in Chorao, lamented: “For more than a decade, our village has been left abandoned without access to basic amenities and used only as a rat run to go elsewhere. . Thanks to the LoC team, who assessed the candidates based on their mandates and history, it was time to vote strategically, together as a community, focused on Chorao’s issues and possibly holding the candidate elected, whatever the political party, responsible during his mandate. in the office.”
Bonny Fernandes and electronics engineer by profession and LoC executive committee member of Belbhat in Chorao thought politics was a new topic for him in this election and he got a good platform in the LoC to improve his learning and gain insight into a new perspective and vision. bring about change or reform our democratic system.
“Without a doubt, our politicians are responsible for bad governance. At LoC, we have taught ourselves how “WE CAN” make a difference by using the “strategic voting” approach to vote wisely and elect a good political leader to resolve our outstanding issues and usher in the development of our village. added Bonny. Fernandes.