Reeling beneath recurrent defections from its ranks and the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Celebration (AAP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) as new contenders in Goa’s electoral battlefield, the Congress social gathering is placing up a courageous entrance and making an attempt to get its act collectively in an effort to problem the ruling BJP within the forthcoming state Meeting elections.
Regardless of dealing with varied setbacks in current days, the Congress has been the primary social gathering off the blocks to announce its first checklist of eight candidates for the Goa polls due in February 2022.
Eyeing the “anti-incumbency issue”, the Congress has been gearing as much as tackle the Pramod Sawant-led BJP dispensation over its alleged non-governance. It has undertaken varied agitations in opposition to the BJP authorities over the past a number of months. Its marketing campaign in opposition to a minister Milind Naik, a three-time BJP MLA, over a sexual exploitation case led to Naik tendering his resignation earlier this month.
However the Congress has been in dire straits in Goa for a very long time. It had emerged as the only largest social gathering with 17 seats within the 40-member state Meeting in February 2017 polls. It not solely didn’t kind its authorities, however noticed its legislative energy getting lowered constantly — to solely 2 MLAs now, that embrace Chief of Opposition and former chief minister Digambar Kamat and the Meeting’s senior-most legislator Pratapsingh Rane, a six-time former CM, who has been with the social gathering for 45 years.
Over the past almost 5 years, the Congress simply noticed warily the defection of its MLAs at common intervals, with has continued until current weeks. Even by Goa’s requirements within the political sport of musical chairs, the social gathering has been its worst sufferer. Over the last two months, seven MLAs have switched events, three of whom are from the Congress.
Whereas then Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane, at the moment well being minister, stop the social gathering and switched to the BJP simply after the 2017 polls, two others – Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar – adopted go well with in 2018. In early 2019, the social gathering noticed the defection of its 10 legislators to the BJP fold. Its authorized problem to their defection has been pending within the Excessive Court docket, at the same time as recent polls are across the nook.
In current weeks, the Congress misplaced its three MLAs, who represented varied constituencies in South Goa. Whereas Ravi Naik, MLA from Ponda, joined the BJP, Luizinho Faleiro and Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, MLAs from Navelim and Curtorim respectively, joined the TMC, the brand new entrant into the Goa fray.
It was Lourenco’s exit that was apparently most embarrassing for the Congress as a result of it had gone out of its technique to retain him when he was first reported to be in talks with the AAP. He was made working president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and in addition named within the first checklist of its election candidates. Nevertheless, barely a number of days afterwards, he was on a flight to Kolkata to be inducted into the TMC.
Even Pratapsingh Rane’s candidature from his bastion Poreim has now come beneath a shroud of uncertainty as his son Vishwajit has additionally staked his declare to contest it as a BJP candidate, insisting that it’s time for his father to announce his retirement.
Brushing apart the lengthy saga of setbacks, GPCC president Girish Chodankar, nonetheless, says the defections have really been an “alternative” for the social gathering within the state. “It isn’t actually a query of who stays or who goes. Those that have greed for cash or those that are between two events weren’t needed. It was our alternative to not give (election tickets) to such folks. If they’ve gone for cash, it’s higher that they’ve finished it now quite than doing it after election. That might have been extra disastrous. Those that are leaving for greed for cash, it’s higher that they depart. We take this as a possibility to cleanse our social gathering,” he says.
Echoing the Congress central management’s line that the AAP and the TMC would break up the anti-BJP votes within the Goa polls, Chodankar claims that they’d joined the fray “solely to dent” the Congress social gathering’s electoral prospects. “The whole objective of their coming to Goa was to focus on the Congress,” he alleges. He, nonetheless, provides that “No election is simple, however when you find yourself within the battlefield it’s important to battle and we’re giving a troublesome battle.”
Earlier this month, the Congress formally introduced an alliance with the Vijai Sardesai-led Goa Ahead Celebration (GFP) after months of negotiations. AICC in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao is credited with stitching the alliance about which Chodankar refrains from commenting a lot, thereby betraying some disconnect between the AICC and the GPCC.
Nevertheless, senior Congress chief and former Union regulation minister Ramakant Khalap, who’s a member of the social gathering’s manifesto committee for the Goa polls, mentioned, “The Congress is an open political social gathering the place there may be room for dialogue. Discord and dissent is a wholesome signal of political engagement. When the social gathering introduced an alliance, after all, there have been repercussions. Some folks felt this was pointless as a result of GFP doesn’t have a pan-Goa presence, others thought they need to have merged with Congress. Apprehensions are at all times there. Even a monolithic social gathering goes by way of this turmoil. BJP is not any exception.”
The social gathering’s detractors have typically accused the Congress of taking too lengthy to take selections. Chodankar, nonetheless, disagrees. “That is the notion our opponents are creating. The place are we late? We’re the primary social gathering to declare our candidates,” he says.
Congress leaders assert that there was a “big anti-incumbency” in opposition to the BJP that has been in energy for a decade. They preserve that the social gathering has a “pure tendency to bounce again” within the state. Additionally they pin the social gathering’s hopes on the persevering with churn in Goa politics and its altering demographic profile.