Cong likely to field defectors

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 19 April 2002 21:42 IST

After all the tall talks that habitual defectors will not be spared, the Congress appears to have decided to go soft on the issue and give more weightage to the winnability factor in Goa elections once again.

This is the third election, now scheduled on 30 May, the Congress looks helpless in denying tickets to the defectors, who toppled their governments consistently, right from 1989.

"We have not assured tickets to any defector so far, but ultimately their strength in the constituency and winnability factor has to be counted", says Pradyut Guha, the Congress observer.

The Congress could not rule for more than five months even after people electing them to power with 21 MLAs in last Assembly elections held in June 1999. While then chief minister Luizinho Faleiro increased its strength to 27 by engineering more defections, his 11 partymen revolted and formed a coalition government with the BJP.

The BJP, after running the coalition for 11 months, engineered further defections in the Congress and formed its own government in October 2000. The Congress then started readmitting defectors, the process which has not stopped till date.

Among the 15 former Congress MLAs, 10 are habitual defectors. Two more BJP ministers quit the party after House was dissolved on 27 February. They are presently awaiting readmission in the Congress.

"We still expect more ex-MLAs and even the ministers from the BJP to return home", states Guha.

There are still nine 'original Congressmen' left in the BJP today and most of them are the ministers. While it is confirmed that minister Ramakant Khalap will not get the BJP ticket, the saffron party is still holding cards close to their chest on the issue.

The final list of the BJP candidates is expected to be out only by 30 April.

The Congress has introduced a new system of interested candidates applying to the block committee by paying a challan of Rs 5000. They have even fixed a deadline of 23 April for this.

However, Guha admits that people can also approach through party president Sonia Gandhi, for readmission or candidature, even after the deadline.

While the BJP appears to have been quite selecting in choosing candidates among the defectors, the Congress is helplessly waiting for the BJP rejects to return home, so that it wins with majority, no matter they defect once again after elections.


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