Congress tumbling down like a house of cards

| 07 August 1998 23:50 IST

The Congress is ruling the tourist state for almost two decades now. But today it is tumbling down like the house of cards.

The split engineered by chief minister Dr Wilfred de Souza in the Pratapsing Rane's Congress government has come as a major blow on their face. People have surprisingly supported de Souza's Goa Rajiv Congress, the group that is presently heading a coalition government in Goa along with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The major jolt to the Congress was merging of the whole lot of the state Youth Congress as well as the National Students Union of India into the Goa Rajiv Congress within a week after the new government is formed.

The block committees represented by the breakaway group MLAs shifting over however was looked as a natural consequence of the split. But the brunt was faced even by Goa PCC chief Shantaram Naik. His Cuncolim block was also merged into the GRC.

Several municipal and panchayat councils are also either shifting over loyalties or are being toppled overnight. It also included Colva panchayat, members of which toppled the sarpanch loyal to Churchill Alemao, the newly admitted Congress leader today.

It would be a tough time for the Congress to face Assembly elections, which are hardly 16 months away now, if the shift-overs continue in a similar fashion. "We will win 27 out of 40 seats even after facing these cracks", claims Goa PCC chief. He is waiting for the people to get fed up with the infighting within the combination and come back to the party fold.

But the new ruling combination, if survives till then, could sweep the polls since the Congress has always ruled here by dividing votes among these groups. The coalition seems to have planned a long-term strategy, keeping its eyes set on the next Assembly elections.

De Souza loyalists however are playing it safe, stating that they still maintain high regards for Rajiv Gandhi and his widow Sonia Gandhi, the AICC chief. "The present situation has arisen because the central leaders were totally misguided by former chief minister Pratapsing Rane", alleges Vijay Sardesai, who was heading the Youth Congress till yesterday.

Though Rane claims that dissidents never complained to him about any problem, de Souza has directly blamed Goa observer Madhavrao Scindia for misguiding the high command, solely because he wanted to save Rane, who is his close family relative.

The only hope for the Congress today is the Catholic-dominated Salcete taluka, the Congress bastion for the last two decades, which is not represented in the de Souza government. However, anti-Congress feeling among the Catholics here is also being capitalised upon by the United Goans Democratic Party, which Alemao left but is today blessed by the chief minister.

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