Why Cong prefers defectors ?

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 17 May 2002 22:44 IST

Winning Goa state Assembly polls appears to be the matter of national prestige for the Congress, obviously by defeating the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, as it is the first poll in the country after Gujarat started burning with communal riots.

"A clear cut message has to go to the whole nation that people condemn and reject such communal and criminal elements", states Jagdish Tytler, former union minister, who has been camping in the tourist state for over a week now.

Perhaps this is the reason Congress president Sonia Gandhi cleared all the controversial names of habitual defectors and scam masters, considering their 'winnability' factor, no matter they defect once again for not getting ministerial positions when the Congress comes to power.

Besides going against the wishes of the educated Goan voter, the Congress has even taken a risk of facing wrath of the Goan Roman Catholic Church, which has openly appealed to the Catholic community to defeat all the corrupt and communal elements as well as defectors.

Though not comprising more than 26 per cent, the Goan Christian community has been considered its 'fixed deposit' by the Congress, while toying with the Hindu votes, to come to power. The Muslim population here is hardly two per cent.

Among the total 17 sitting MLAs fielded once again, the Congress has rewarded tickets to almost 12 defectors - for flirting with the BJP by toppling its own government within five months after June 1999 Assembly polls.

In fact, the central Congress leaders here are boasting roping in BJP's deputy chief minister Ravi Naik at the last minute, along with his two ministerial colleagues, as a major 'achievement'.

"We have scrutinised their records thoroughly. Neither any of them has been chargesheeted by the court nor convicted for any scam", states Congress observer Ramesh Chennithala, who has masterminded the whole plot for the victory.

To prove a point, he even points out at a press report, which quotes BJP leader Pramod Mahajan stating that the BJP will not get more than 16 seats in the 40-member House, but will form the government within two months.

Looks like even the Congress is fully aware of the fact that they cannot keep the over-ambitious Congressmen together, if all of them are not offered lucrative cabinet positions. The whole lot includes five ex-CMs and 15 ex-ministers, besides new aspirants entering the political business.

"The prime target for us is to defeat the BJP in this election, the first one held in the country after Gujarat carnage", asserts Subodh Kant Sahay, another former union minister.

Individuals like scam masters and defectors matter only in Goa, but it will be a backlash for the Congress in the country if it loses the polls, states another Congress observer, requesting not to quote him.

The Congress has thus planned a grand rally by Sonia Gandhi here on 23 May, while a whole lot of senior leaders are expected to address public meetings, including chief ministers of Karnataka S M Krishna, Vilasrao Deshmukh of Maharashtra and Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan.


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