Pramod Acharya 09th Aug 2021
This assembly election in Goa is supposed to be against the menace of defections and disloyalty; defection from the political parties and disloyalty towards the voters. However, it increasingly looks like citizens of Goa will have to choose between different kinds of defectors; elected defectors and unelected defectors. Would-be and could be defectors; pre-poll and post-poll defectors. And there might be many more. Who knows?
Two of the significant political joining last week were Mahadev Naik from Shiroda and Elvis Gomes from Cuncolim. Mahadev Naik from BJP to Congress to AAP whereas Elvis Gomes from bureaucracy to AAP to Congress. The fanfare around both these proceedings would have us believe that Goan politics is witnessing some fresh air but alas!
Most of you must be very faintly remembering Mahadev Naik quitting the BJP and joining the Congress during the 2019 most anticipated and acrimoniously fought by-election of the Shiroda constituency. It wasn't a noteworthy event then as the whole limelight was focused upon the BJP contender Subhash Shirodkar and MGP challenger Deepak Dhavalikar. Mahadev Naik slyly joined the principal opposition party and probably ensured, albeit unknowingly, the BJP candidate's triumph in that election. Deepak Dhavalikar lost by merely 66 votes. And then Mahadev Naik vanished from the vista. He was never again seen on a Congress platform. Now, he has joined the AAP.
There was no prospect even of Mahadev Naik putting up a brave fight during that by-election let alone winning the poll. The best bet to guarantee that the BJP loses that seat was Deepak Dhavalikar. Sudin Dhavalikar was sacked out of the cabinet humiliatingly and the ten brazen defectors of the Congress in the latter part of the year were still with the party. Congress could have ensured that the BJP loses that seat. But the main opposition party preferred to assist the BJP in consolidating its power. Mahadev polled less than 2000 votes.
Although Elvis Gomes' case is different, his joining is not very dissimilar. He harboured chief ministerial ambitions without any sturdy electoral groundwork in his constituency. AAP lost deposit on 3/4th seats under his headship and could not recover from the setback till he was asked to step down from his role as Goa convenor of the party. He was in no man's land for almost one year and finally found ashore although myriad uncertainties encircle his political prospects.
For Congress, Alemaos are the tried and tested equation in Cuncolim. After a stellar performance in the municipality election, the circumstances are surely leaning towards Yuri Alemao. Congress has preferred to induct another heavyweight in the constituency certainly ruffling the Alemaos. Elvis is an erudite man. But is he a learned politician? In short, does he comprehend the hardcore language of ruthless electoral politics?
Congress is on a spree of inducting leaders in its fold. Surprisingly, most of these inductions are occurring in constituencies where the party already has formidable candidates. Vellim is an additional case in point. With such self-detrimental tactics, the party would definitely implode in the face of an election. Whom does it benefit?
Such shifts have led to one more amusing side effect with immense entertainment value. Since these inductions, social media is alight with old videos of these shifting politicians. What Mahadev Naik spoke against AAP and how Elvis ridiculed the Congress with his suave words! Once upon a time, journalists and political commentators like us used to remind populace regarding who said what in the past. Now social media does the job and I am sure much more efficiently. Watching these videos is as agonizing as it is humorous. Are we left with no other alternative? Do we have to opt between one defector or the other? Elected or the unelected? Has our polity been reduced to a farce of personalities?
After many years, Congress has more than 35 seats unoccupied. AAP also has, as of today, more than 35 candidates unresolved. Can we get at least 70 superior credible faces as candidates? BJP is encountering a problem of plenty. Let it be a contest between too many on the one side and trustworthy novelty on the other. It is too much to ask? Is it too much to hope for?
Post-script: As I promised in my last column, the media did its job. We tore into the Bhumiputra Bill and brought to the fore all the draconian aspects of the bill. And it gives us enormous pride, when all of you, our readers and viewers, back us stalwartly on such issues. It was a collective struggle. A battle has been won. The war, however, isn't over.