The absolute and nauseating greed for power has led the Goa Congress jettison party building for deal making. In the process failed opportunist senior Congress leaders are ready to oust their president to open the doors for deal making. Luizinho Faleiro, has therefore decided to leave rather than being stirred in a power hungry cauldron
In a land where the desire for political control and power of any sort goes with the lay of the topography, we have a piquant situation of the president of the Goa Congress, after leading his party to an unexpectedly good showing in the Assembly elections, defying expectations akin to challenging the law of gravity, is pleading with his madam boss, to be relieved of his position. What he is perhaps seeking more than anything else is relief. Relief from the shackles and machinations of the very party – actually a section of powerful partymen – he heads.
Faleiro, was shocked and disappointed at the turn of events which saw power being snatched right from the grandstand on which the party satraps were planning to stand and take oath of office. But he hung on, bidding time, and then waiting to kick start the party again. The rest of the Congress, including leader of the opposition Babu Kavlekar and the league of former Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat, Ravi Naik and Pratapsingh Rane – are trapped in a time capsule of March 12. That was the day there expected to be coronated, as victors in an election. But that became the day when they became the vanquished as the BJP managed to lead a coalition government, in a mandate defying political coup, stage managed with stealth, guile and most importantly speed.
On the other hand, at least three former Congress Chief ministers, with bloated egos and believed that governance was their right and the Chief Minster’s position their birthright. And all three – Rane, Kamat and Naik – wanted Luizinho Faleiro out of the way, to forge an alliance with Goa Forward, independents and MGP. Reality then took over and dreams remained frozen. The tragic irony here is that this group as well the ambitious brigade like Babu Kavlekar saw their political redemption only in getting back power for themselves.
Pratapsingh Rane’s illustrious son Vishwajit, played the part of a prodigal, only in the manner he can, literally moving out of sight of his party MLAs as soon as he took oath, forcing the anxious Congress legislature party leader Babu Kavlekar to look for him in the Assembly loo. Rane Junior was not in the Assembly toilet but actually flushing himself out of the party, to savour a fresh shower of success as a BJP minister.
Congress MLAs were getting desperate. Spending the next five years out of office and in the rule of a BJP-led coalition, made them breathless and devoid of political oxygen. And this led to strange consequences. In times such as these, there is one man who always makes a crucial entry or a guest appearance. His name is Babush Monserrate. Nothing is sacred or sacrosanct as far as the Congress’ relationship with Monserrate goes. He was first dropped from the party for cozying up to the BJP. It then backed him in Panjim in the elections, by not fielding a candidate, while giving his candidate a Congress ticket in St Cruz. It is to Monserrate whom the power seekers have outsourced, to plan and execute the plan to create a political storm and take a shot at power. Yet again, the principle of power at all costs and power at any cost has been followed. In fact, impeccable sources have informed that on March 12, when the ground had already slipped from the Congress feet, the party was desperate to back any non BJP chief minister, including the MGP’s Sudin Dhavalikar. Even now, it is no secret that they have left it to Monserrate, the man trusted to play his game during fluid situations.
Some of you reading this may have perhaps figured, that this has nothing to do with ideology and principles. Nor has it been thought through that forming a rag tag government , through outside help, will give the Congress a notion of power but leave them devoid of the fruits of organisation building done during the tenure of Luizinho Faleiro. At the same time there is no denying that attaining political power is a fair benchmark for any political party to achieve. But when it has been taken away in a manner it has been, is toppling the present government and forming yet another coalition of compromise, by forcing its President to leave in frustration and disgust, the mantra for revival?
The revival project is not over by winning 17 out of 40 seats. It won’t be over even if – hypothetically – it does topple the government and support or form the next one. It will only happen if the process, begun during Faleiro’s tenure as GPCC president, of reviving the blocks and organisations and building the next line of leadership continues.
Notwithstanding who is ruling, the morale of BJP cadres isn’t high, especially in constituencies where candidates who contested against BJP leaders have won and are now in government. The Congress, however, is not in a position to take advantage of that.
Secondly, with the completion of 100 days where there has been a clear evidence that both the Goa Forward Party and the MGP’s needs have been catered to there isn’t any indication that the allies would like to disturb the status quo.
Irrespective of the ambitious nature of both Sudin Dhavalikar who feels like a Chief Minister in waiting, and Vijai Sardesai, who believes himself to being Chief Minister in the making, both are pragmatic enough not to indulge in political adventurism. So it’s difficult to fathom if the league of anti-Luizinho former CMs who are all now wanna be CMs, think they have a realistic chance of toppling the Parrikar government and forming another one led or supported by Congress, or are they simply excited at doing something to suggest that they are taking a shot at power to keep their sycophants interested.
But clearly, the manner in which they have worked to isolate the GPCC president, who by all accounts has breathed life into a party which was dead, is shocking. Digambar Kamat, Ravi Naik and Pratapsingh Rane, who have never left Goa and claim to have guarded the Congress fortress, were actually purveyors of destruction. Most of these politicians – even beyond the list the veterans – have a clear path of self development. a) Become a minister or get any other position b) Use that position to leverage projects and work in the constituency c) Use power to extract more jobs for their local boys from the constituency to ensure re-election d) Make use of positions, to ensure investment for the next elections and e) Use their new found power to put a check on or even cease vigilance and other investigations going on against some of them.
Completely out of their syllabus is organisation building, working on a road map for Goa, studying and taking positions on important non-negotiable Goa issues.
In this scenario a initially reluctant Congress president who simply wanted to revive the party organisation, and was made to take the election plunge, remains a hindrance to this lobby, especially if he enjoys the confidence of the AICC. The lobby gunning for him alleged that it was he who delayed the process of picking the CLP leader because he wanted a shot at job. That is a lie. The delay, and this is too open to be said vaguely, was caused by the then AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh who turned down both Faleiro’s and Chella Kumar’s insistence on staking claim on the night of March 11 by telling the Governor that the party would revert back with its choice of leader by next morning. Singh simply refused this, allowing the BJP waiting like a hawk, to take over and wrest the government from the Congress.
Faleiro, of course has taken the dignified way out, for a man who has a right to be frustrated. But does this leave the party stronger? It is not important that former Chief Ministers with very little to show in terms of criss-crossing the State to build the party, will be pleased if Luizinho is relieved by the high command. The big ask is if the common Congress worker, the block president, the frontal organisation chief or member, and then of course the many Goans who voted for the Congress in the hope of change, will be happy.
The vote that the Congress got in 2017 was based on both hope and emotion. While they voted for regional satraps, like Ravi Naik, Subhash Shirodkar and others they did so with the hope that the Congress had a chance in 2017, because these very satraps were meted out heavy defeats by the same voters in 2012. Hence they are not lords who can defy waves and emotions. Digambar Kamat remains an exception because it is clear that he does not win on Goan votes any more, the migrants do the job for him.
The ugly bickering, gunning for the GPCC President who turned the organisation around and the willingness to go to bed with anyone politically and even outsource its machinations to a non-party member, are an insult to the common Goan who voted for the Congress with hope and emotion.