Parties make hay while defectors shine

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 26 April 2002 21:50 IST

Professional defectors - responsible for a decade-long instability in Goa - are likely to stage a comeback with frontrunner national parties intending to field them once again as their strong winnable candidates.

The issue is literally haunting even the concerned parties - the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress - who have actually begun choosing the candidates for midway Assembly polls, scheduled on 30 May.

Even though he has brought a list of election committee members approved by party president Sonia Gandhi, Goa's observer Ramesh Chennithala admits that no policy decision has been taken in Delhi, not to allow defectors this time.

For the last three Assemblies since 1989, the trend has been to split from the ruling Congress and form coalitions with the opposition, but to join back the party to contest elections on Congress ticket.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party still consists of seven Congress rebels, while three have already quit the saffron brigade to stage homecoming. Confirming indirectly that more are still to come, Chennithala claims he cannot understand why everybody is frustrated with the BJP.

Though the Congress has stopped receiving applications of aspiring candidates since yesterday, they have kept the backdoor open for the professional defectors to come back and contest.

While talking of morals and ethics, the first two candidates announced by the BJP were two defector-turned ministers. "We will announce some candidates at the last minute, depending upon whom the Congress chooses", states chief minister Manohar Parrikar, while the saffron camp has also started choosing candidates.

If both the parties reject them, these professional defectors normally go to the regional parties, get elected and then defect to join hands with others to snatch the ministerial positions. The United Goans Democratic Party, even after electing two MLAs, had become non-existent soon after last elections, due to this trend.

"Normally, we will not give tickets to defectors", states Prashant Naik, the UGDP secretary, leaving scope to accommodate quite a few if the Congress or the BJP rejects them.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, another regional outfit, is not even meeting the media but has adopted wait and watch policy, holding cards close to their chest.

The overall trend thus clearly indicates that all the parties in Goa will make hay while the defector's winnability shines.


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