Panaji:Ghar wapsi (homecoming), slander against Mother Teresa, attacks on minority institutions and the gang rape of a nun in West Bengal, could have resulted in the BJP-led ruling coalition performing below par in the Goa zilla panchayat polls, the convenor of a ruling coalition partner has claimed.
Mickky Pacheco, convenor, Goa Vikas Party (GVP), one of the two parties which the BJP joined hands with for the polls, claimed without taking names that certain "religious leaders" canvassed against the BJP, which led to the coalition barely scraping through in the South Goa zilla panchayat and falling one short of victory in North Goa.
"These issues were prominent. Ghar wapsi, the gang rape of a nun, the manner in which Mother Teresa's image was attacked and other incidents played on the minds of voters and the opposition exploited it," Pacheco told IANS on Friday, after his party won only two seats in South Goa where the Catholic vote was crucial.
Catholics account for 26 percent of the state's population.
Pacheco, minister for archives and archaeology in the Goa cabinet, said some religious leaders also issued diktats against voting for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the party's silence on "atrocities" against the minority community in several parts of India.
"I am going to discuss this with the BJP. But we will of course continue with the alliance because the GVP has a development agenda for Goa," Pacheco.
Out of the two zilla panchayats, spread equally over 50 constituencies, the BJP and its coalition partners, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the GVP, narrowly scraped through in the South Goa zilla panchayat winning 13 of the 25 seats.
In North Goa, considered a bastion of the BJP, the ruling alliance won only 12 seats of 25 and will require the support of at least one Independent candidate to rule the North Goa zilla panchayat.
The Congress as well as the Nationalist Congress Party boycotted the polls after the BJP-led coalition government decided to hold elections on political party lines last month.
The lacklustre performance has also triggered dissent within the BJP with Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza on Friday blaming the party leadership for failing to deliver a clear victory.