Sun, sand and slow pace of Goa polls

Tourism has not lost its bling in Goa, though voting is just a few days away

yoshika

Yoshika Sangal | January 31, 2017 | Panaji


#shacks   #BJP   #AAP   #tourism   #elections   #Goa  


 Goa is all set to witness elections on February 4. I was travelling to the state for the first time with a group of friends a little more than week before the polling date. At first, we were sceptical about going just before elections, as we were expecting intense campaigning and didn’t want it to get in the way of our enjoyment. However, we decided to go.

Coming from Delhi which witnessed its elections in 2015, I still remember rounds of campaigning, especially by Aam Aadmi Party which was contesting for the first time. Campaigns were held everywhere, with youngsters gathering in large groups, leading to traffic snarls; billboards and hoardings flashing contesting candidates, and elections being the ‘hot topic’ for every family or office discussion.
 
But, Goa was different from Delhi. We were staying in North Goa, known for its parties, shacks and beaches. Even though it was my first visit, the Goa scene was exactly the way I was told it would be. We were travelling around in bikes, watching large number of tourists flocking markets, crowded beaches and restaurants, loud music and dancing clubs.
 
We saw the first sign of the upcoming elections when we were informed by a shack waiter that alcohol is not allowed to be served and loud music can’t be played at any restaurant after 10 pm and that police vans take rounds on beaches to check compliance. However, neither did the waiter stop serving after 10 pm nor did we see any police vans the whole night. Few shacks did shut down at 11pm, but they were still serving their customers at the back.
 
One could believe that rules were taken lightly since North Goa is a famous tourist spot and the backbone to Goa’s revenue and that restriction would just hamper businesses during the peak season. But nearer to the city one could expect the election fever.
 
The second and the last sign was the sight of a minivan with posters of Arvind Kejriwal playing loud music (which from a distance sounded like a Bollywood song) and a small gathering by BJP volunteers on the corner of a road. Both these were seen by us once.
 
The debate on closing the casinos of Goa can be heard by contesting parties as all have taken their anti-casino stance during campaigning and releasing their election manifesto. But casinos were seen to be still operating. On the last day of the trip we visited a famous casino near Panaji, Goa’s capital. Though they had increased the entry fee, the casino was overcrowded.
 
With a few days to go for the elections now, Goa is still the bustling vacation spot and high-spirited travellers, many of them (mostly foreigners) have no clue of the approaching polls. Even with the election stir, Goa has not lost its bling.
 

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