Defector is most powerful !

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 20 April 2002 21:44 IST

It's election time once again, in Goa, thanks to the game of musical chairs here in a tiny state. The only difference this time is that the 40-member House is being dissolved merely in 32 months, putting a halt to the usual political game of defections and topplings.

The most powerful politician in Goa today is the professional defector. The reason is simple. Having 'professional' approach towards defections, he has become minister with lucrative portfolios, obviously to fill in his own coffers. He thus becomes the most powerful person, who can spend the most in the constituency and can even 'purchase' his ticket.

The ninth Assembly, which was dissolved by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government on 27 February, had at least 25 such professional and habitual defectors among the total 40. The number could increase further with new BJP guys adding to the figure, if their leader - chief minister Manohar Parrikar - had not dissolved the House in time.

The ruling BJP is now going to the polls, posing it to be the only party which has not split till date. But they have no explanation over forming the government with 11 defectors, when actually only 10 saffronites were elected to sit in the opposition in the 40-member House.

No doubt at least two of their 'defector ministers' have quit the party, realising that the BJP will dump them. There are also more to follow, including silver-haired former union law minister Ramakant Khalap, who defected twice - to the Congress and then the BJP. But the same 'party with a difference' has also announced their two candidates - Muslim minister Shaikh Hassan and Dalit minister Babu Azagaonkar - both defectors.

The Congress also appears to be in a mood to reject some of the powerful defectors, who have already been readmitted long ago. Topping the list are the three scam-masters - Dayanand Narvekar, Mauvin Godinho and Somnath Zuwarkar - facing court cases due to multi-crore scams they are involved in.

But in the same breadth, party observer Pradyut Guha admits that more ex-legislators and even BJP ministers are expected to join the Congress fold. He adds the word 'unconditionally' there, but it is hard to believe that they will simply join the Congress, when the BJP has even announced candidature of some of them.

History of Defections

The statistics of Goa's glorious defections is equally glorious. It all began in 1990, after the seventh Assembly was elected with its number being increased from 30 to 40 and Goa was granted statehood. Till then it was a union territory from the time the Portuguese colony was liberated in 1961. 

From 1963 to 1989, Goa elected six Assemblies but witnessed only three chief ministers. Since 1990 till date, the three Assemblies have witnessed 13 chief ministers, including one surviving for only six days. The Assembly was also prematurely dissolved twice and President's rule was also imposed on two occasions.

To change the guard and bring in 'new era of clean governance', the defections have taken place 21 times in 12 years. The total number of defectors involved in this great 'democratic act' was 80. But it does not mean 80 persons have defected, but each one of them has a 'rich experience' of defecting at least twice.

Among these 13 governments, at least five were coalition governments, meaning formed by toppling ruling Congress governments. The professional defectors missed the opportunity to also topple Goa's first BJP government as the CM went for dissolution before it could happen.

When tickets were rejected to some of the defectors, they used regional parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or the United Goans Democratic Party as a ladder to enter the House, making themselves available for any group to form a new government, provided they were made the ministers.

Once again, the probable rejects have begun talks with both the 'poor' regional parties, dangling a carrot of financing their elections. Not so rich in their attitude, the regional parties are also 'seriously' considering the proposals….


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Assembly '02