That Goa Vikas Party (GVP) is a one-man political organization has been confirmed by none other than the party’s Benaulim MLA Caetano (Caitu) Silva. Earlier this week he said that he was never considered to be a GVP member and was almost an ‘independent member of the GVP’. The party has just two MLAs in the Assembly and when one of them says he is not even considered as a party member then it means that the party is being run solely on the whims and fancies of just one person.
Where the GVP is concerned that is not surprising. Such a statement would perhaps not even be astonishing had it to come from some other regional party in Goa as most of these have been surviving only because of the force of the personality behind the party, when there is one. Take away that person and the party crumbles.
So, we know now for certain that Francisco (Mickky) Pacheco is the only person in the GVP who matters and who has any say in the affairs of the party. He designated himself as Supremo of the party and his wife as President. Everybody else in the party is there just to add to the numbers and maybe win a seat in the Assembly election which will strengthen the party supremo’s bargaining power when it comes to playing a role in government formation. If Pacheco got himself into the State cabinet, he owes it, at least partly, to the fact that Silva got elected from Benaulim. The Bharatiya Janata Party has a simple majority of its own and with the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Independents is quite comfortable in government. It didn’t need the GVP to add to the numbers. Truly, had it not been for the two seats that the party represents in the Assembly, the governing coalition would perhaps not have taken Pacheco’s claim for a berth in the cabinet seriously and then given it to him.
That actually appears to be the purpose of the regional political parties in the State – playing kingmaker and bargaining for a share of the spoils. They are there in existence because they see a role for themselves in government formation, not because they have the interests of the people and the State in mind. There is no ideology that binds together the members of the regional parties in Goa, nor any plan for the economic upliftment of the people. They clearly lack in vision and tend to be very parochial in issues and concerns. This, however, was not the situation in Goa earlier, during the early period after Liberation when politics in the then Union Territory was dominated by regional parties.
Goa’s first regional parties were also the last to have any ideological beliefs and an agenda for the State. In the case of the MGP it was merger with Maharashtra, and for the United Goans Party (UGP) it was retaining Goan identity by staying on as a Union Territory. Even the names of the parties were such that one could identify with them and their policies and that is what brought into being these two political parties. But even they survived through the sheer force of the personalities that led the parties – Dayanand Bandodkar in the case of the MGP and Dr Jack Sequeira who led the UGP. Regional parties that came after these two were breakaways from the parent party and merely in the fray to attempt some kind of bargain with the bigger party.
The survival therefore of the regional parties, and in this case the GVP, depends on the political survival of the personality driving the party. At this point of time, with the GVP supremo, who is also an MLA and the face of the party, facing a six-month jail term and with its only other MLA washing his hands off the party and no apparent second rung in the party organization, can GVP be even termed as a regional party?
For too long have regional parties aligned themselves to whichever National party has won a larger number of seats, unmindful of that party’s ideology, exposing their desire to be in power. The existing regional parties in the State need to relook into their organizations if they want to survive. They need to stand by certain ideologies and have a proper policy framework and agenda they will work with, only then can there be a truly representative regional political force.