Valid questions have been raised over the BJP’s decision to induct these 10 MLAs at a time when there was no pressing need to do so
If the Congress is imploding in Karnataka, it has already imploded in Goa. Ten of the party’s party’s 15 MLAs in a House of 40 have switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The mass migration has left the Congress in shreds, and recovery from this position is going to be a herculean, if not impossible, task. This is so more because the central high command of the party is itself leaderless for now and is in no position to offer guidance to its Goa unit.
Of the five legislators left with the Congress, four are former Chief Ministers. They are Pratapsinh Rane, Ravi Naik, Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat. Naik had earlier been with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Kamat with the BJP. Rane’s son, Vishwajeet Rane, is a prominent member of the BJP and a Minister. Faleiro, it may be recalled, had strongly criticised senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, for having failed in his mission to ensure a Congress regime in the state following the last Assembly election. Singh had been sent by the high command to Goa after the results gave a hung House, with the Congress emerging as the single largest party. Yet, the BJP, almost overnight, managed to forge a coalition after it relieved Manohar Parrikar from the Union Cabinet and despatched him to Goa to take the reigns as Chief Minister.
There may be some truth in the issue of pressures on the Chief Minister. It is also possible that the state unit of the BJP suspected Sardesai’s commitment to the coalition government, as he was seen to be on good terms with the Congress.
The sorry state of affairs of the Congress in Goa is as much the result of the rudderless high command as it of the shifting loyalties and growing ambition of the elected representatives. Of the MLAs who have crossed over to the BJP, Atanasio Monserrate is a unique case. He has done business with nearly every outfit in the state — regional and national. He had backed the BJP in the past and worked with the Congress. In fact, he won from the Panaji Assembly constituency, which had fallen vacant due to Manohar Parrikar’s untimely death, on a Congress ticket. He is considered a financial heavyweight too, and his loyalties shift like sand in a desert. His wife, Jennifer, also an MLA, has followed her husband from the Congress to the BJP.
Then there is Filipe Neri Rodrigues, a charming person and gentleman to the core. His arrival in the BJP camp is no surprise. Even in the early 2000s, when he was an MLA, he had a soft corner for the BJP — or more accurately, for Parrikar. Over time, he went over to Congress. He is the kind who can make himself comfortable in any party. He has certain leverage because of his popularity among the people of his constituency, regardless of the party he represents or even as an independent.
The question now is: Why did the BJP have to induct 10 MLAs from the Congress? The party’s government Chief minister Pramod Sawant was stable enough with the support of its ally, the Goa Forward Party led by Vijay Sardesai. It is said that the Chief Minister was uncomfortable with the constant demands being made by Sardesai and wanted to get out of the tangle. It is true that the continuation of the government depended on the Goa Forward Party’s patronage. Once he got the 10 Congress MLAs to his side, he lost no time in removing Sardesai from the ministry.
There may be some truth in the issue of pressures on the Chief Minister. It is also possible that the state unit of the BJP suspected Sardesai’s commitment to the coalition government, as he was seen to be on good terms with the Congress. However, it must be admitted that Sardesai had remained loyal to the coalition from the time he joined it during Parrikar’s term, and even later. Had he decided to cast his lot with the Congress after the last Assembly election, it would have been a Congress-led regime in Goa, and Parrikar would perhaps have continued at the Centre. Now, of course, even if he were to back the Congress, it would be futile since the party is far away from the simple majority mark even with Sardesai’s support.
Valid questions have been raised over the BJP’s decision to induct these 10 MLAs at a time when there was no pressing need to do so. Parrikar’s son, who too has joined politics, remarked that this was not a development his father would have wanted. There is also the issue of the BJP becoming ‘Congressised‘ in the process. Thus, while the BJP can celebrate the decimation of the Congress in the state, it must also be wary of the designs of these crossovers in time to come.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.