Goa proves coalition theory wrong

| 30 August 1999 23:18 IST

Goa is an exception to the rule once again, this time to prove wrong the theory of coalitions. While regional forces are becoming dominant in almost all the states of the country, not a single regional party is contesting Parliamentary elections here.

It is perhaps for the first time that the contest is solely between the national parties while even the existing regional outfits are either merging into or supporting these national parties. The regional fervour is totally absent from the scenario.

Goa otherwise has a rich history of regionalism with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party ruling the state initially for 17 years while the United Goans Party remained the main opposition.

The Congress came to power here in 1980, only when the UGP was merged into it. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party could make a debut in the Assembly in 1994 polls by aligning with the MGP, which remained the main opposition here till last year.

Even in the Parliamentary polls were dominated by national parties all over the country, Goans put their weight behind regional parties. Altogether 10 MPs out of 20 who went to Delhi till date belonged to the regional parties, despite knowing that they can be at the most two-member strong. Except Ramakant Khalap, nobody could even become the minister.

But the scene has changed drastically with Khalap himself jumping into the Congress boat, leaving his MGP which had elected him to the Lok Sabha and made him the minister. "The role of regional parties is over as far as Goa is concerned", he feels.

While Khalap (already the MLA) split the MGP to join the Congress along with another colleague of his, Prof Surendra Sirsat, leader of the remaining MGP faction, also feels that the regional parties need to imbibe a broader national perspective. "The national shift of the voter is due to 35 per cent non-Goans settled here", he feels.

Adv. Radharao Gracias of the United Goans Democratic Party, whose both MLAs joined the ruling Congress party soon after the Assembly polls held here three months ago, however still hopes that regional forces in the state would unite as one entity.

"People are not with us may be because we are divided amongst ourselves", he feels. Having no other option, his party has supported the Nationalist Congress Party, which is the original Goa Rajiv Congress here, yet another regional outfit formed by Dr Wilfred de Souza, who had broken away from the Congress in the past.

"May be our future lies with the national parties", says de Souza, whose all attempts before and even after polls to bring together all the three regional parties proved futile. Goans elected only two among them to the Assembly this time.

"The answer is loud and clear, though role of regional parties is not over", he says, while pointing out at the constitution of the 40-member Assembly, which is presently left with only two MGP legislators. Even they are not keen to stick to their defunct outfit.

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