Goa’s Post Parrikar Political Picture

Nandkumar M Kamat

Different political scenarios are predictable in post Parrikar Goa. Like Manohar Parrikar, the new Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is an exclusive choice of RSS. It would be a major task for RSS local mastermind Satish Dhond who has tremendous experience in crisis management to guide him.

Future of Goa BJP exclusively depends on selfless workers like Satish Dhond whom I know from the very first day when newly elected Panaji MLA Manohar Parrikar occupied the old sitting bench for MLAs at the old assembly hall. Manohar Parrikar was neither a superhuman nor a saint. He had no chance of surviving in politics without strong, unflinching RSS backing till the very last moment and without loyal workers like Satish Dhond.

Unlike his senior in politics Matanhy Saldanha, Parrikar had no roots in mass movements. He had advantage to be a Gulliver in the small state among contemporary political Lilliputs. He controlled power astutely by remaining inaccessible or being selectively accessible to the people and by avoiding any serious debates on fundamental issues such as long pending public policy reforms, legislative reforms, administrative reforms and state level judicial reforms.

He never had any time or patience for such deep, focused discourses. Parrikar, as future critical analysis would show was an ordinary politician with certain extraordinary qualities which very few possess. Manohar Parrikar was a studious political scientist with certain strong personal beliefs which had occasionally put him in trouble. We have also seen some extraordinary politicians like Erasmio Sequeira and Eduardo Faleiro.

Erasmio even became bridge between India and Latin American countries. A simple reading of “public matters” the collection of speeches and debates by Eduardo Faleiro shows his extraordinary track record as finest parliamentarian Goa produced. But all of them couldn’t shape the politics of Goa like Parrikar did with his far better connect to people.

Last week within hours of sending the article related to him for this column his death was announced, and it couldn’t be published. But to quote from that unpublished article- “For years the media published stories about ‘superhuman’ qualities of Manohar Parrikar to assiduously build his image. But did they ever publish anything about his health, or his food and drinks, rest, sleep, leisure and rest? The RSS, Nagpur in 1990s had given him a blank cheque and the Goa BJP followed its’ dictates under the doctrine of “ekchalakanuvartitva (follow the single chosen leader unquestionably)’.

RSS “Ekchalak” Manohar Parrikar became the alpha and omega for Goa BJP and their political maneuvers. Goa’s political future in post Parrikar period would now follow different phases with all actors and players fully knowing that presidential rule would be inevitable at a certain point in future. The present phase till polls on April 23 is extremely critical for Goa BJP which aims to be the single largest party in the assembly.

Depending on its assessment of support from present allies during the campaign period BJP would patiently wait till May 23 when it would be able to make the next moves. In case the NDA is returned to power at the center, Goa BJP would be in driver’s seat to dictate terms to its allies and may even impact some shaky Congress MLAs who would rapidly run out of stamina.

On May 24 the picture will be so clear that the allies and the three independents would have to plot their future immediately till the next assembly election. MGP and GFP would not have anything to negotiate because if they create problems for government then BJP may ruthlessly split these parties. Dipak Dhavlikar had foreseen this possibility long ago therefore he is contesting the Shiroda bypolls. His calculation is simple- if he wins then it will be impossible for BJP to split MGP with four MLAs.

But having learnt from mistakes in 2017 assembly election he understands the tactical advantage of MGP alliance with BJP. BJP and MGP split each other’s votes in 2017 assembly election to the advantage of the Congress and GFP. With NDA at the centre and mandate till 2024, Goa BJP could plan to return to power as single largest party. Goa would know by end of May 2019 if we get a different government with four MLAs crossing over from MGP and GFP to BJP and BJP wining in all four assembly seats thus taking its legislature party strength to 16. Leave out Sudin and Vijay and it would be 20 without attracting anti defection act. Add Priol MLA Govind Gawde supported by BJP and suddenly you see a different scenario with 21 MLAs firmly with BJP and two independent MLAs having no other option to support it- the 23/17 formula for stability till 2022.

Another scenario is of a hung parliament on May 23 with incumbent Prime Minister not in a position to get enough numbers. If NDA position is weakened at the centre then BJP alone would not be able to dictate terms. If NDA loses majority and a conglomeration of opposition parties form an alliance at the centre and elect a non-BJP leader then the ripples would soon hit Goa and destabilise the Sawant led government.

Depending on the role and position of the Congress party in the hypothetical new alliance the local political scenario would change drastically. No government can run without prudent financial management. Parrikar managed government with heavy borrowings leading to incremental rise in public debt. This was one reason- the legendary ‘capacity’ of Manohar Parrikar to justify debt and get developmental grants from center why GFP and MGP had supported his leadership in March 2017.

They would closely scrutinize the new Chief Minister’s capacity in this regard till May 23 this year and afterwards. In opposition, Parrikar was opposed to casinos but when his officers showed him the steady revenue flow statement then he was compelled to sanction their extension.

Even the RSS backed the new Chief Minister Sawant would not be able to shift or shut down casinos- a steady source of guaranteed revenue. All the political parties are waiting till May 24 for their next moves to be made. The post Parrikar political picture of Goa would be extremely chaotic after May 23. However, in my opinion having known him as a young, honest politician with entrepreneurial spirit and willing to accept new ideas, the new Chief Minister Sawant needs to be given sufficient time in the interest of Goa to prove himself.