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‘Toppling Games’ or ‘Cat-Away Past Times’

I read with much amusement some media reports and Facebook posts about the attempt to topple the BJP-led government, while Parrikar was away on his London Trip. I say it was amusing, not because it is not possible to topple the Parrikar government but because to execute such an act would require money, strategy, commitment and above all some sacrifice. All of the above mentioned reasons are missing in the motley crew whose names have been doing the rounds for some months now.

The only set of politicians that could execute such a plan and have the motive and financial resources are the Congress. But by doing so does it benefit the Congress.

Let’s examine the theory that Congress is behind the plans to topple the BJP-government. Any plan to topple this government would mean that Congress would want to regain the power in the state. That can only happen if there is a sizable number in the government with ministerial berths. Congress currently have 9 MLAs. These 9 MLAs however are a divided lot. Today, BJP has 21 MLAs which is a majority. So for Congress to execute the plan besides its 9, it would require the 5 Independent MLAs, 3 MGP MLAs, 2 GVP MLAs and 2 disgruntled MLAs from BJP camp to reach the magic figure of 21. If two of the BJP MLAs resign, they will be disqualified and those seats will have to re-contested. Them quitting would bring the BJP total tally to 19. All BJP would require in that scenario would be to team-up with GVP, reach an agreement on ministerial berths and get the majority and Congress would be now hunting for 4BJP MLAs. If however, Congress still goes ahead with their plan, than those leaving the current alliance with BJP such as MGP, GVP and even the Independents would pledge support for money and ministerial berths. That would mean the alliance partners including the Independent would have 10 ministerial berths, with two left for the Congress. And if the BJP MLAs who resign, contest again and win, they would also want a slice of the ministerial pie, which would mean that the existing 9 Congress MLAs would get nothing, since there are only 12 ministerial berths in the Goa government. And expecting that any of the Congress MLAs will not mind giving up their ministerial berths to topple the Parrikar-government is not only foolish but absurd.

Now let’s examine another theory. Say it is not the Congress playing the toppling games, but the BJP’s own disgruntled MLAs (I am told there are nine such MLAs, including two ministers) along with MGP, GVP and Independents trying their luck to carve their names in Goa’s in-famous ‘government toppling’ political history. Then the BJP MLAs would have to resign, contest again and most importantly win either as Independents or in party format (if they come together to form a party). This in itself is a tall-order because then they would have to contest and win against a BJP and a Congress candidate. Secondly, the 5 Independents, 3 MGPs and 2 GVPs will continue to want their ministerial berths, leaving the 9 BJPs MLAs to squabble yet again like the Congress for 2 ministerial berths. Let’s suppose all 9 of the disgruntled MLAs win the election, combining with 5 Independents, 3 MGP and GVP, they still will be with only 19 MLAs and the majority needs to be 21 MLAs. So it would require the 9 MLAs from Congress, who then will demand ministerial berth for their MLAs. So then somebody from the disgruntled BJP MLAs would have to sacrifice their ambition to accomodate the Congress and the Independents.

So in effect in any of the toppling scenario Congress stands to gain very little and in some case nothing at all. But the biggest losers will be from the 9 disgruntled MLAs, because they risk their political careers if their plan fails. The only players who stand to gain will be the Independents, MGP and GVP. And the person who controls the Independents with 5MLAs – which at this point of time appears to be Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai.

Let’s examine the theory that Goa’s much hyped Chankaya of politics Vijai Sardesai is behind the toppling games. It is a known fact that he can exude control over the Independents, MGP and GVP, including some in the Congress. He would settle for nothing less than the Chief Minister position, otherwise the entire exercise would prove to be a waste of time to him. Now, if he topples the government and requires Congress to form the government, because the financial resources would have to come from them through its High Command; the Congress High Command would demand for the CM position since they would have 9 MLAs and would chose Pratapsingh Rane or Vishwajeet Rane to be the Chief Minister. This of course would not be acceptable to Sardesai. If they chose Digambar Kamat, then Congress will face public-backlash but more importantly Sardesai would have to opt for the Deputy CM position. This however would make both the CM and Deputy CM from the same community which will not be acceptable to the overall caste-politics which is always played in the state.

Assuming Sardesai does not take the Congress assistance and raise the financial resources to execute this ambitious plan, he would require the disgruntled 9 BJP MLAs (two of whom are ministers and senior politicians), they would most certainly make a bid for the CM’s position. In such a scenario even MGP could increase its demand and ask for either the CM or Deputy CM posts. Yet the numbers would not be complete since in this combination the total MLAs would still be 19 and it would require the Congress. Unless two in the Congress quit the Congress, contest and win as independent and joins Sardesai’s camp, which would lead to more permutations and combinations, because the Congress MLAs would have to win. So for Sardesai to come even close to milking the situation, he would need to get all moves to synchronise and work. If it fails, he would become the outcast, that might damage his future political chances. And one thing about Sardesai is pretty clear, he is ambitious and shrewd but not irrational.

The news that MGPs Sudin Dhavlikar would become the CM in the toppling game, is not only absurd but downright stupid. Which political outfit would hand over the reigns of the government to a political party with just three MLAs in their kitty. MGP has no funds and no political acumen to pull of such an act and it has the lest risk to take.

Also Mickky Pacheco-led GVP is an unpredictable ally as the past shows. No one would be able to trust Pacheco, he has betrayed such toppling plans in the past for mere ‘peanut’ considerations.

In my opinion the past few days has been nothing but ‘Cat-Away Past Times’ rather than any serious ‘Toppling Games’. Because more than all the financial resources and maneuvering, the task would require immense risk, anything could go wrong from any end. Also we must not forget that Parrikar is no fool and will not just lie down and watch his government fall right before his eyes.

The important fact which many are ignoring is the reaction of the people of Goa to such act. Those doing it will become villains even though they would be in power and Parrikar will live to fight another day. And he is a dangerous foe is rubbed the wrong way.

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