The fury of the electorate

By Cleofato A Coutinho
11 March 2012 13:51 IST

The decisive victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party and the near decimation of the ruling Congress party can be attributed to its suicidal mission in the distribution of party tickets. Certainly there are other factors like the BJP-MGP alliance which consolidated the traditional vote bank and the strategic alliances in Salcete and Bardez Talukas brought in rich dividends.

Three months back, despite the issue of corruption being brought to the center stage and the illegal mining issue haunting the state of Goa, the ruling Congress party seemed comfortable as the BJP was seen as unable to seize the initiative but the distribution of tickets frittered away a near comfortable position to near decimation. The party was so comfortable that not even symbolic gesture was made in the area of dealing with the corrupt.

There were already two from the Rane family and two from the Alemao family but junior Rane got elected as an independent the Senior Alemao was elected in the Save Goa Ticket. In 2007, the party took a bold stand in denying the ticket to a junior Rane and to wife of Babush Monseratte. That Babush damaged prospects of Congress party in Panaji and Taleigao but could not make any dent in Santa Cruz. But in 2012 after the year of accountability (Central Government and the State government were questioned over different scams) the distribution of 12 tickets within 5 families and that too four in one family was the last nail. Having taken a principled stand in 2007, what made the party to take the path of suicide in 2012 after a year of skirmish with the civil society on the issue corruption and accountability is actually unexplainable.

Besides the distribution of 12 tickets within 5 families, the denial of tickets to Vijay Sardesai in Fatorda and grant of tickets to Isidore Fernandes in Canacona, Rudresh Chodankar in Mayem coupled with the entry of Dayanand Sopte and Rajesh Patnekar into the Congress party gave a feeling of ‘ganging’ up within the Congress party to capture the state.

Thus, the issue of corruption and illegal mining fell by the way side and holding of a cabinet meeting in a family dining hall became the joke of the season. The opposition took up the ‘Family Raj’ issue as an election plank with such ferocity that the Congress party was placed on back foot to such an extent that the local leaders were unable to justify the position. The central leaders like Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sheila Dixit and Oscar Fernandes instead of being apologetic took a bold stand of justification which only added fuel to fire.

But, how this has come about. Being in power the satraps had enough resources to threaten the central leadership into blackmail.

Irrespective of the justification given by the central leaders, it is clear that the central leadership fell threatened by the sheer power and prowess displayed by them in disrupting the entire election campaign, in case their demands were not met. That was also possible due to each one of them being permitted to grow bigger than the party.

The Monserattes, Ranes and the Dhawalikars may have succeeded due to strategic location of their constituencies. Our constituencies are small and distribution of certain goodies from personal wealth and/or from government schemes may work in certain places and for sometime.

Villages like Cuncolim, Navelim and Loutolim has seen large amount of spending on infrastructure and Cuncolim, Velim, Loutolim and Ponda has also seen government jobs  being doled out (without payment). These aspects also were unable to counter the fury of the electorate against the perception that the ganging up would finish the state.

The strategic alliance like the BJP-MGP alliance and various strategic alliances with different powerful individuals like Joseph Sequeira in Calangute, Sangeeta Parab in Mandrem and other independent candidates in Salcete has worked to the advantage of the wining alliance. On the other hand, besides distribution of tickets, it appeared there was no election strategy at all. The advertisement blitzkrieg launched by different NGOs against the ruling Congress party could not be combated as the Congress party machinery did not exist locally and each candidate was left to defend his own constituency and fend for himself.

Finally, the strategic shift of the traditional Salcete and Bardez electorate against the Congress party is clearly a matter of self respect and a clear indication that they cannot be taken for granted. The call of the Church to weed out the corrupt was actually seen as a call to vote against the government. The local English media had already laid to foundation for a change by its opionated news.

It is widely believed that the Church and the clergy had a role to play in the resurgence of the anti-Congress atmosphere in the Old Conquests and in particular the Salcete heart land. There is no doubt that the Church played a role. In fact political observers who always condemned the Church for taking a pro-Congress stand have started praising the role played by the Church and the clergy. However the fact of the matter is that the Church has only followed the feelings of the electorate and accelerated the way.

That the process of acceleration managed concrete benefit for the Bharatiya Janata Party is a different matter altogether. The fact of the matter is that besides the anti-Family Raj wave that hit the state the present Chief Minister managed to stitched a rainbow alliance across the state while the then ruling party depended on the formidability of its satraps.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Cleofato A Coutinho

Cleofato Almeida Coutinho is a senior lawyer and one of the constitutional expert in Goa. A member of Law Commission of Goa, he also teaches at Kare College of Law in Madgao.

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Previous Comments

Though all that is written by Mr. Coutinho is what we have been reading all along, it is interesting to hear/read it through the pen of Mr. Coutinho all the more interesting, since he too has covertly always been very sympathetic towards the 'corrupt congress' all along. This was very dissapointing since Mr. Coutinho was once upon a time a firebrand student leader with excellent ideas, but as usual situations mould a man so do they mould "proffesionals". Mr. Coutinho's writtings have always been interesting and hope you write more unbiased articles. However, i must mention that you have downplayed the role of the church and especially the current Bishop, who actually is responsible for getting Goa and Goans in this mess. I hope God has given them better insight to move away from politics and work towards the spiritual and social betterment in Goa.

- Jaret de Silva, Overseas | 12 th March 2012 02:43


The sheer arrogance of power!!!

- Kalidas Laxman, Panaji Goa | 11 th March 2012 17:32


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