Dissidence in the Bharatiya Janata Party is now out in the open, and it’s a former chief minister who has raised the banner of revolt. After BJP’s former Minister Mahadev Naik made overtures to the Congress for the latter party’s ticket for the Shiroda bypolls, due to be held in the coming weeks, this week former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar announced that if he is denied the party ticket from Mandrem he was ready to contest as an independent.
The two constituencies will have bypolls in the coming weeks as the Congress MLAs from these seats had quit their membership of the Assembly and the party and joined the BJP in October last. With a revolt now evident, three months after the defections that were engineered, BJP’s bid to increase its number in the Assembly is under a shadow.
Pushed on the back foot, the BJP claims they have not begun the process to select candidates for the bypolls, this after Subhash Shirodkar who joined them in October and was made chairman of the EDC, resigned from the corporation three days ago so as to be free to contest the bypolls from Shiroda. Should Parsekar and Naik take forward the threat to contest the bypolls, the BJP will be facing one of its toughest electoral fights in Goa, as the presence of the party rebels would dent the BJP support in both constituencies. Parsekar, confident of his support in Mandrem, has even asked the leadership to conduct a survey in the constituency to verify if the workers have accepted the ‘new person’ – in this case Dayanand Sopte – in the party.
This rebellion from Parsekar could not have come at a worse time for the BJP that is already facing a major challenge from an alliance partner in the government that is braving itself to contest the bypolls. Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party has announced it would be propping up candidates in both constituencies, with its party president Pandurang Dhavalikar entering the fray in Shiroda. Goa Suraksha Manch has also confirmed its intentions of propping up candidates. Any votes that these parties will get will be at the cost of the BJP, giving an opposition candidate the edge.
That apart, the question this brings to mind is: Where is the discipline that BJP has always taken pride in, and sought to portray so as to distinguish itself from the other parties based on this quality? With two stalwarts of the party raising the banner of revolt, the leadership in the State has been left scrambling to pacify the bruised leaders and find a solution to the issue, before it escalates any further. It is not just how much damage the former chief minister can do to BJP in Mandrem, but right across the State. Parsekar was the party’s chief minister, just two years ago. He is a member of the party’s core committee in the State, and a revolt by him, could send ripples of rebellion across Goa, which would dent the party as it preps up for the bigger battle of the Lok Sabha that is just months ahead.
The timing of this dissidence could not have been more wrong for the BJP. The party was coasting ahead quite comfortably with the MLAs it had in the Assembly, without the necessity of attempting to increase the numbers in the House. The sudden rebellion, months before the Parliamentary polls, is not something that the party had bargained for, and yet it has resulted due to the party’s own actions, when it upset two of its senior leaders. The BJP possibly believed that its famed discipline would keep the leaders in check, but unfortunately for the party it has not.