Despite being the party with the highest numbers of MLAs in the newly elected Goa assembly, Congress could not form a government. This has led to massive discontent amongst not only the cadres but also among the newly elected legislators. Senior leader Renuka Chaudhari even went to the extent of asking for the resignation of AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh, holding him responsible for the fiasco.
As it became evident that Congress had lost the race, a few of its legislators, including Vishvajeet Rane, approached Manohar Parrikar, offering to resign and support his government. This disillusionment with the party and its attitude is bound to gain momentum as the newly elected government entrenches itself.
One can also expect further disintegration amongst the party ranks. The desire to be in the ruling dispensation transcends political ideologies. Politics have become a give and take affair, with demands from the electorate constantly rising. Gone are the days when the voters would steadfastly stand by an ideology, the equations of power notwithstanding.
An elected representative, especially in small state like Goa, needs to keep himself abreast of the personal likes and dislikes of his voters and act accordingly. This has not added any glow to either the democratic process or the elected representatives, but then this regret has no takers.
Fed Up with BJP, Goans Voted for a Lethargic Congress
The recently concluded elections failed to bring to the fore any burning issues faced by the state, despite the fact that such issues abound. The erstwhile BJP government planned to ride on various social welfare schemes, sidetracking certain core issues central to what is now being described as ‘Goanness’. The leaders as well as the cadres took the voters for granted, ultimately spending a fortune in the final stages.
Congress, on the other hand, could not shed its inertia even as the election dates were declared. The newly formed Goa Surksha Manch (GSM) was more lethal in its criticism of the government. The masses, fed up with the BJP-led government, yearned for a change.
But neither the MGP-GSM combine nor the new entrant AAP of Arvind Kejriwal could provide a sustainable alternative. Thus, the choice was a lethargic Congress.
The Faults of Faleiro
Its present state President Luizinho Faleiro is an unabashed Gandhi acolyte. Reinvigorating the party was never his priority. Pratap Singh Rane, who was the leader of the Opposition in the last assembly, has lost his vigor and enthusiasm with his advancing age. His lackluster performance further dampened the spirits of the party cadre.
When the time for distributing tickets came, Faleiro saw that his cronies had the upper hand, a precursor to the coveted post of Chief Minister. He even had the audacity to join hands with Churchill Alemao, a castaway from Congress, only to ensure that his chances in his Navelim constituency are not dented. Another audacious decision was to join hands with Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, a maverick politician who has joined and ditched Congress innumerable times.
Had the party joined hands with their natural allies like Goa Forward, the combined tally would have been above 23 seats. Even the diehard critics of Congress acknowledge that this purported error of judgment have cost the Congress heavily.
Faleiro is keen on settling personal scores with Vijay Sardesai, the only vocal opposition in the Goa assembly in the last five years and the mentor of Goa Forward, and has left no stone unturned to bring disrepute to the latter.
With just 17 legislators by his side, the prudent option for government formation would have been to humour Goa forward. But Faleiro chose to remain indifferent to the reality and act naïve.
This lethargy speaks volumes about the not-so-hidden intentions of Faleiro even as Mr Parrikar had opted to come down from his position of the defense minister of the country and woo the smaller dispensations. A true leader has to inculcate humility and sincerity, if the traits are not bestowed upon him by birth. Faleiro has proved to be a failure on both counts.
He could not even make a personal approach to the smaller parties soliciting their support, and instead dispatched others, that too without any leverage to negotiate. The lack of conviction, which is essential if one plans to lead a coalition government, was sadly missing. Not surprisingly, Faleiro missed the bus to Raj Bhavan.
In due fairness to him, it could also be said that Falerio had realised that the mammoth task of running a government with a hostile centre and scheming comrades was beyond his capacities. The coalition partners would have demanded the lion’s share in the portfolio distribution, thus embittering his party legislators.
Again, there are strong rumours that Faleiro is playing to the tunes of the BJP, who have him by the scruff of his neck. His reluctance to accept the post of leader of the Opposition in the new assembly also lends credence to these observations. Even the Supreme Court has come down heavily on the reluctance of the Congress party to approach the Governor, thus proving that the party is more interested in theatrics than in serious politicking.
(Raju Nayak is the Editor of Lokmat in Goa and mainly writes on politics and environment.)