Defectors or winners?

sandesh prabhudesai, panaji | 23 March 2002 16:23 IST

Almost all the political parties in Goa are caught up in a quandary over giving tickets to habitual and professional defectors while winnability also becomes the ultimate criteria to win the forthcoming Assembly elections

The tourist state, known for its political instability over a decade now, is once again going for polls within 32 months. The ruling BJP here has dissolved the Assembly, in order to save their party from splitting, after they came to power 16 months ago by engineering defections in the Congress. Fresh elections are likely to be held by May end.

"Performance, efficiency and integrity will be the prime criteria while selecting candidates from among our 20 ex-MLAs", said Laxmikant Parsekar, the state BJP president. While one minister has already quit, the BJP is still left with 10 more politicians, who had defected twice before joining the BJP. Eight of them became ministers.

But Balasaheb Apte, the BJP's Rajya Sabha MP and Goa in-charge, now insists that winnability of a candidate should also be considered a major criteria since elections are ultimately meant for winning. The BJP has already declared candidature of two such defectors, Shaikh Hassan, a Muslim and Babu Azagaonkar, a dalit.

"All cannot be judged in the same manner. Some of these professionals can integrate with us and stop their defection habits permanently", claims chief minister Manohar Parrikar, in an attempt to justify candidature of defectors.

Former union law minister Ramakant Khalap, who is the IT minister today, is however struggling hard to get the BJP ticket as the state president Parsekar plans to replace him in the former's traditional Mandrem constituency. As the MGP candidate, Khalap had defeated Parsekar in last Assembly polls, but later defected to the Congress and then the BJP.

The Congress, on the other hand, has also come under immense pressure from the cadres here to deny tickets to all the habitual defectors. After splitting from the then ruling party and enjoying ministerial positions in successive governments, at least eight of them have come back home after the BJP rejected them.

"You will see lots of new faces this time", announced Congress observer Ramesh Chennithala at the Congress rally held in South Goa last week. As the party is full with professional defectors who had been later wholeheartedly embraced to win 1994 and '99 elections, it is beyond even the control of the high command to reject these 'filthy rich' powerful politicians.

Since 1990 when the first split toppled the then elected Congress government, Goa has witnessed three Assembly, two President's Rule, two premature House dissolutions, 13 chief ministers and 21 defections, involving altogether 80 politicians in a 40-member House. Most of them are Congressmen or those belonging to regional parties.

Though small regional parties in last two polls adopted a strategy of giving tickets to the 'rejects' of the Congress, they have decided not to repeat the mistake since almost all these professionals later split and joined the Congress, after getting elected, deserting the regional outfits.

On the contrary, the regional parties and the leftist parties have now formed a third front, resolving to field fresh and committed people, no matter they are defeated. The 'rejects' of the Congress and the BJP will thus have no alternative than to contest independent to get back to their 'business' field - the Legislative Assembly. is now on Telegram & also Youtube. Kindly subscribe for free & remain updated.

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