BJP's 'takeover' of Goa Congress: Five key implications
Goa BJP's sheer 'commandeering' of the Congress legislature party on Wednesday, when 10 out of the 15 Congress MLAs merged with the saffron party, comes with its own bag of implications for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in particular and the state BJP in general.
Listed below are the five key takeaways from Wednesday's stunning political development, which left the state astounded.
The Catholic-Hindu ratio: For the first time in Goa BJP's history, Catholic outnumber Hindus in its legislature party. After Wednesday's coup, the BJP now has 15 Catholic MLAs and 12 Hindu MLAs. While late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar went through electioneering rigour in 2012 to get six Catholic MLAs elected, Sawant merely had to pick them from the opposition Congress.
Parrikar's relevance lost: For three decades, Parrikar was Goa BJP's man with a plan even on his death-bed. He who could pick any political lock or troubleshoot tough situations and come out trumps most often. The Goa BJP's ruthless edge in the post Parrikar era, indicates that the relevance of the once indispensable and invincible former Defence Minister could well be over for now. His son Utpal, who has been strategically sidelined from the party, says so himself: "The path of trust which Parrikar established in his politics ended on March 17 (when Parrikar died)."
Pramod Sawant's primacy: When the baby-faced, clean-shaven Pramod Sawant was asked to fill Parrikar's boots months back, many wondered whether he had the stomach for it. His two raids on the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Congress in three months, which netted 12 MLAs has answered that question. Never before has even Parrikar commanded a BJP legislative contingent of 27 MLAs. Now, whether Sawant can deliver on his promises of job and infrastructure creation and tackling corruption remains to be seen. And the reason why Sawant is still the prince and not yet the king, is because of the behind-the-scenes chaperoning by state BJP organising secretary Satish Dhond, who has been laying out the strategy for luring MLAs with whipped cream in one hand and just a whip in the other.
Discontent among cadre: Wednesday's revolt has triggered revulsion among the committed BJP cadre. Senior party leaders like former state BJPPpresident and Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, have already said that party workers are "deeply hurt" with the development. "We will fight out this wrong trend within the party. End is justified only if proper and ethical means are used," Arlekar has said. For sincere BJP workers, the induction of tainted Congress MLA Atanasio alias Babush Monserrate, who is chargesheeted for raping a minor girl, is the proverbial straw which broke the camel's back. Sawant and the state BJP unit will have to ensure that the cadre isn't disillusioned, while keeping the new entrants content and in check.
The trap of history: Bigger is not necessarily better, as the Congress Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro discovered in 1999, when he kept breaking away Opposition MLAs, despite winning 21 seats in the state Assembly elections. The more MLAs Faleiro inducted, the more difficult it became for him to manage the turbulence in the treasury benches, ending with his government toppling, a risk which could confront Sawant in the future. In 2000, Parrikar pulled away 10 Congress MLAs led by then opposition leader Ravi Naik, to form his government. His experiment lasted only for two years. Sawant appears to have followed the same footsteps, by luring 10 MLAs along with the Opposition leader. Can he survive, where Parrikar failed? IANS