Plot thickens for Goan political drama
RAMNATH N PAI RAIKAR | NT
PANAJI: Equations in politics are far too complicated than those in the books of mathematics, and many a times are incomprehensible as they change fast, very fast. The current political scenario in Goa clearly points out that the uncertainty of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to remain in power not only continues but has now increased substantially.
Results of the 2017 assembly elections brought along equations which had large number of variables. The main two political parties namely the Congress and the BJP won 17 and 13 seats respectively, and since then these numbers are continuously fluctuating, alternately in favour of the two political parties.
The Congress lost its legislators twice, thanks to the BJP, first when Vishwajit Rane joined it, and then Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar were poached. Today, the resulting strength of Congress is 14 in the state legislative assembly.
On the other hand, Sidharth Kunkalienkar resigned as the BJP MLA and Manohar Parrikar won the by-poll from the same constituency, as also Vishwajit Rane was victorious in the Valpoi by-election. This took the BJP tally to 14. Now the death of Francis D’Souza has reduced the number of BJP MLAs in the House to 13, one less than that of the Congress.
The passing away of D’Souza also meant that the Election Commission of India will now have to conduct by-polls in three constituencies – Mandrem, Shiroda and Mapusa – which indicate various possible outcomes. The BJP may increase the number of its MLAs, the Congress could continue to be the largest party in the House further increasing tally of its legislators, or the alliance partners of the BJP – Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party – could win one or more seats in these by-polls thus strengthening their negotiation power.
At this point of time, it can be safely said that no other political party is caught into the labyrinth of uncertainty as the BJP. Earlier, the BJP was facing infighting in its Mandrem and Shiroda constituencies, and feared splitting of its votes during the by-polls in these constituencies, if its own party men became the rivals. And now to add to the party’s misery, the bug of infighting not only continues in the newly vacant Mapusa constituency, but many ambitious politicians are also trying to ‘capture’ it.
Two of the BJP candidature aspirants for Mapusa – Rupesh Kamat, a blue eyed boy of the Chief Minister and Sudhir Kandolkar, the councillor of the Mapusa municipal council as backed by Calangute MLA Michael Lobo – are already standing face to face against each other, just as GFP supremo Vijai Sardesai has thrown a pebble and created some ripples by stating that he is ready to back Joshua D’Souza, the son of Francis D’Souza as a Mapusa candidate for the assembly by-poll. He has however left it to the imagination of everyone as to under whose banner he would be backing Joshua. One should also not forget that Vishwajit Rane had also tried to ‘capture’ Mapusa, in the past by fielding his nominee, Ashish Shirodkar as a Congress candidate.
The plot thickens if one considers the situation in the Cumbharjua constituency whose MLA Pandurang Madkaikar is ailing and not seen since his illness eight months ago. Unable to attend the last two sessions of the state legislative assembly, one does not know whether Madkaikar would be able to make a public appearance before the term of the current assembly ends in March 2022. One also does not know whether he would resign as the Cumbharjua legislator, making way for a ‘working MLA’.
It is further pertinent to consider as to whether the leadership and charisma of the ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar would be sufficient for the BJP to continue in power after the by-polls in the three constituencies, or not.
All in all, with fast changing situations and behind-the-curtain activities, Goa could very well head for a political instability, which it had frequently experienced during the 1990s.