The fight that the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party had promised in the Lok Sabha elections has fizzled out.
In the rush of rebellion, soon after the party’s long serving MLA Ramkrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar had been unceremoniously dropped from the cabinet of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and two of the MGP MLAs – Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar – had ‘split’ the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, the wounded lion had roared, refusing to be tamed, but with the passage of time, a very brief period at that, the party has decided not to escalate the war that has broken out between itself and its longtime senior ally.
The reasoning would be simple – in politics there are neither permanent friends nor enemies. The political situation in Goa is unsteady, the future entirely dependent on the results of the by-elections and the parliamentary polls. Though the party may say the decision is because of the lack of time to plan a campaign, it surely would not be politically expedient to enter into another fight on a larger battlefield of the Lok Sabha constituency turf, which it would not stand the chance of winning, when the future political alliances could lead to a realignment depending entirely on who occupies 7 Race Course Road in New Delhi. For MGP, a win in Shiroda doubles its strength in the Legislative Assembly, and increases its bargaining power in any possible realignment. And that’s what it needs to concentrate on.
The regional party’s decision to stay away from the Lok Sabha polls, will be good news to the BJP as the national party now regains an edge in both seats. By the MGP leader’s own admission, it commands 13.5 percent of the electoral pie share which works out to over 1.5 lakh votes. Even if 50 percent of these were to vote for the MGP in the Lok Sabha polls, the resulting damage would be more to the BJP than any other party, giving an advantage to the Congress. With MGP out of the fray, a sizeable share of their voters would lean towards the BJP, and possibly vote that way too, especially since the regional party has still not walked out of the alliance with the saffron party.
The next step for the MGP would be taking a decision on continuing in the alliance led by the BJP. There is no Assembly session due in the coming weeks, so a decision to break ties with the alliance will not affect the government in any way. The numbers in the alliance would drop by one, but that would not affect the majority it holds in the House. Walking out of the alliance would instead send MGP to the opposition benches, and the party has not occupied that side of the well of the House for a pretty long time. The MGP has consistently been able to align with whichever party is in a position to form the government and sit on the treasury benches with a place in the cabinet.
For MGP, to survive the latest blow of the split, it has to win in Shiroda that has become a prestige issue for the party. It is the party’s insistence of contesting the by-election in this seat that cost it a place in the cabinet and led to the split in the party. A loss here would not only keep it at 1 seat in the House, but a comeback three years hence at the next Assembly elections would be a tall mountain to climb. Its future almost hinges on this one by-election. A win will ensure that it maintains its place in Goa’s history, a loss could well mean it becomes history.