Congress is BJP's strenght

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 25 October 2000 14:06 IST

Rather than any kind of love for the saffron ideology, the ladder of factionalism and infighting within the Congress that has helped the Bharatiya Janata Party hold reins of power in Goa today.

No politician disputes this fact across the party lines, except Luizinho Faleiro, the Goa PCC president, accusing whom the Congress split thrice in Goa, forming two non-Congress governments in last 11 months.

After two hung Assemblies since 1990, the Congress was given a clear mandate to rule in the Assembly polls held in June last year, electing 21 in the 40-member House. Faleiro, whose government however lasted for only five months, 'strengthened' the party further by splitting three parties and increasing its number to 26.

Today, the all powerful Congress which dominated politics of the tourist state for two decades since 1980, has reduced to mere five, besides speaker Pratapsing Rane. While two of its factions have already joined the BJP, four more are still existing as small groups.

The BJP on the other hand has risen from 10 to 18, by accommodating eight Congress defectors and formed the government for the first time here with the support of at least seven more from outside, including two Congress splinter groups of total five legislators.

This leaves only three Congress groups in the opposition, including the original Congress, beside seven-member Goan People's Congress led by former chief minister Francisco Sardinha and Dr Wilfred de Souza, the sole Nationalist Congress Party MLA.

"Why should I not take advantage of the infightings within the Congress for my party's benefit", asks Manohar Parrikar, the newly sworn in chief minister. He fully justifies his action to strengthen the BJP in this manner, claiming that most of them are not original Congressmen.

His 14-member cabinet consists of at least 10 persons who have changed parties minimum thrice, including five-time defector Pandurang Raut who had even deserted the BJP once and Jose Philip D'Souza, defecting four times. Only four among them originated from the Congress.

"The root cause is not factionalism but greed of our politicians", claims Faleiro. Analysing his toppling in November last by Sardinha, he feels it was very difficult to run the cabinet of eight, when the party consisted of four ex-chief ministers and 14 ex-ministers who had tested power in the past.

But Shantarm Naik, his own colleague and former PCC president, disagrees with him. Accusing Faleiro for harassment caused to those who split at three different times at organisational level, he feels things could have been much different if he was replaced as the PCC chief.

"The high command kept on neglecting our complaints and sent down incompetent juniors as the observers to assess the situation", says deputy CM Ravi Naik, who was the state opposition leader till yesterday. "We split out of frustration as he (Faleiro) wanted to finish us politically", he claims.

While certain communities that dominate Goan politics are slowly getting polarised in the BJP with the changing scenario, at least 19 'Congressmen at heart' are seen divided into five different factions today, including the 'real' Congress.

In order to score over each other, some of them are even supporting the BJP – directly or indirectly. "The Congress and the BJP were hand in glove to keep Sardinha away from winning the confidence vote", alleges Dr de Souza, the NCP leader, interpreting the decision of the Congress to abstain from voting.

Though he feels that the Congress could have actually voted in favour of Sardinha to keep away the 'communal' BJP, hardly anybody thinks on ideological lines nowadays in Goa. It is twisted as it suits their 'politics of convenience'.

This is probably the reason why one-time staunch anti-BJP Ramakant Khalap, the former union law minister, did not mind even attending the VHP's public rally that announced construction of Ram temple, just two days before he joined the Hindutva bandwagon. He is the BJP minister today. 

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