Goan outrage against former CM Pratapsingh Rane’s toilet remarks grows as Congress faces an ultimatum; Congress battles embarrassment, a defiant Rane Sr, a vertical split within and sinking fortunes in Lok Sabha 2019
PANJIM: As public outrage continues to grow against former Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane’s “Asli kama karunk amka vospachi naam” about Goans going overseas to clean toilets, public ire seems to be growing against the Congress for having failed to either make Rane apologise or resign. Civil society within Goa and overseas too hasn’t taken kindly to Goa’s longest-serving Chief Minister as his sheen seems to be completely waning.
His remarks smacked of “traditional feudal attitude that cares little for the ordinary citizens” observes Prof Teotonio D’Souza, the founder Director of Xavier Centre for Historical Research from Moira who now lives in Lisbon. D’Souza feels that “an apology or explanation of his expression could minimise the irritation of the hurt public and Congress party should press for it as it may gain public sympathy if it shows courage to delink Rane from its manifesto and exclude him from the leadership of the party.”
Roshan Luke Mathias of Revolutionary Goans dissects Rane’s statement made last week as an abuse of the dignity of labour and a deep-seated hatred. “He failed to accept that failure of providing jobs by him and the government in Goa has led to our Goans hunting for jobs and better prospects elsewhere,” Mathias said and feels that how Congress deals with Rane is an internal matter of the Party. Rane’s apology “may not undo the damage done so easily or quickly, but it will only reflect whether he is a humble man of ethics or just another proud arrogant man.”
Though typical to the Congressman who does not want to hurt his political prospects and upset seniors, Dabolim Block Congress Committee’s Youth Wing President Mahesh Bhandari feels Rane’s remarks were “out of frustration which was deep-seated inside for more than a year having lost the opportunity to form the government despite being single largest party in Goa. Rane’s outburst was against the dominating nature of the current government in the Assembly, a government that can't provide jobs to Goan youth who have to go out and do such jobs.”
Bhandari feels that Rane “should apologise to all Goan who are working abroad as he has hurt their sentiments and should come clear on what he really meant”. He, however, does not feel Congress now depends on a single person anymore and has new leaders strong enough to win in any constituency.
It has been a week since Rane made those disparaging remarks against Goans working overseas calling them toilet cleaners which have since been disowned by GPCC president Girish Chodankar and the party but the fact that quite a few Congress MLAs were seen thumping their tables on the video is an image that will continue to haunt them.
AICC secretary and Goa desk in charge Dr A Chella Kumar has quite a task on his hands as Rane – the party’s seniormost MLA – refuses to admit that he erred or hurt sentiments and refuses to apologise, while young Chodankar the new president has egos, rigidness and vested interests of his party seniors to battle with.
Sources within the party confess that the timing of Rane Sr’s statement might not have come at a worse time as the party is struggling to wrest the South Goa seat in the 2019 Parliamentary Elections. A significant number of South Goa voters have family members working overseas. Most of these were traditional Congress voters. Congress’ reluctance to take strong and bold action against Rane Sr, quite on the lines of Babush Monserrate, may drive them permanently away from Congress. With most of civil society feeling that Rane is a political compulsion, United Goan Foundation President Dr Aashish Kamat feels otherwise. “With examples of Digvijaya Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar who were acted upon for their peculiar and ill-timed outbursts, Rane should be put in place. His removal will only bring about respect for the Congress in the eyes of the insulted Goans. Congress has to lay new benchmarks if they are serious of taking back their lost position in Indian and Goan politics and what better time to show that they care. Rane hasn’t apologised yet, so the party has to act against him, and quickly. It shouldn't be seen as an afterthought,” Kamat added.
Salcette, Bardez and Tiswadi send the maximum Goans overseas and they will play a crucial role in the next Parliamentary Elections and Congress knows well that it has to choose between bowing to a senior of a bygone era or voters of the future.