GoaChronicle.com (GC): Are you surprised about the result of the Congress party in the recently concluded elections?
Congress Leader (CL): It is shocking and disappointing. In my own personal assessment, I expected the party to reach 13 – 15 seats. But this is shameful and more shameful because our intelligence and war room team which had come from All India Congress Committee (AICC) team in Delhi, till the last day of the polling kept on telling us we would get to 17 – 18 seats. So much so some of the ministers’ lobby was already working on post-election alliance and ministerial positions. Such was the over-confidence in our expected performance. Our GPCC Working President continued to harp about the fact that we would get 23 seats.
GC: What do you think went wrong in the Congress debacle and what according to you were the main reasons?
CL: Our ministers have over the last five-years been questioned over numerous scams and corruption-based issues. Our local leaders with senior leaders in the Congress high command have managed to control the scam issues from toppling the government; but did not even bother to take any corrective action. And a clear indication of the belief and turning a blind-eye of the Congress high command to the actual corruption tainted-politicians in Goa was when they decided to allot tickets to family members and close associates on the basis of the political lobby here rather than taking into confidence the party workers who have worked for the party and ground realities. In fact a senior leader of Oscar Fernandes argued and defended them saying there is no competent authority that have convicted them of corruption. Where else in the country has the Congress party set a precedent of allocating more than one ticket per family, when in 2007 they took a firm stand when Vishwajeet Rane was made to contest as an independent, they failed to do it this time. To me there are three reasons why we lost this election is such a dismal manner – Bad governance, Bad decision on allotment of tickets, bad representatives locally and nationally. This is not a BJP victory but more a Congress loss. People were frustrated with the government and to put a further nail in our coffins the high command decision makers decided to allot tickets based on the political lobbies demand to some of the most corrupt politicians this state has seen; the people saw it as a spit on their face. Nobody likes to be taken for granted and certainly not the people of Goa.
GC: You mention ground realities, are you implying that the high command was not aware of the ground realities or chose to ignore it?
CL: The high command representatives in Goa became stooges in the hands of the local politicians. Oscar Fernandes – a senior and respected leader of the Congress party has been the biggest disappointment. Many of us in GPCC believed his coming into the scheme of things would ensure fair play, but on the contrary it got worse. I can say this quiet openly that he became clay in the hands of the Alemaos and Ranes. To the extent of even telling the press that we have selected our candidates on account of their winability. How come now after all his talks of winability, he has not once opened his mouth on the outcome of the elections. He turned this GPCC office into his personal domain and his wife Blossom Fernandes who has no role in AICC even released the party manifesto and sat giving instructions to GPCC members which is not her responsibility at all but I suppose Oscar Fernandes got so carried away thinking that he was the director of ‘We are family’ and so he got his family also involved.
Jagmeet Singh Brar and Sudhakar Reddy’s intention was no different as that of the Congress high command representatives sent to Goa earlier like Hariprasad and Margaret Alva, which is to make money. Even the tickets were allotted because of the money paid by certain lobbies. They high command must investigate this.
To add to it the high command appointed some representatives from different parts of India as Observers who appeared to have come for a ride on cost of the party but provided information that were completely manipulated and incorrect. Otherwise, the assessments could not have gone so wrong.
Our own local office bearers along with the President Subash Shirodkar minted money on the election by appointing their own people for small jobs like printing and release of advertising, hoardings etc. And I am sure the Congress high command will not even conduct an audit into such things. Similarly, the AICC observers and war-room people acted like experts in the field of politics and assumed that Goa is like UP and Punjab.
In my opinion the high command including the Congress president chose to ignore the ground realities because they believed in their leaders and the other states likes UP were more important than Goa.
GC: Do you really think people like Oscar Fernandes indulged in money deals with the local politicians?
CL: Oscar compromised his position and his responsibility where Goa was concerned. It is for the party to investigate his role in the Goa elections especially his connection with the Ranes and Alemaos. There is no smoke without fire.
GC: Now that the election is over what do you see happening with the Congress party?
CL: Right now the winners are fighting for the different position in the Opposition. And the losers have started the blame game. Both of this will further deteriorate our already dismal standing in Goa. In the biggest irony of the situation the Congress high command has sent Sudhakar Reddy and Brar to investigate what went wrong in the election, when the decision of the party tickets were lobbied by them for most of the candidates. If at all anyone should be replaced first, it should be Brar and Reddy, followed by Subash Shirodkar in Goa.
For example in the Goa Pradesh Election Committee (GPEC) selection of candidates, Brar had no business being a part of the selection as per protocol since he is a member of the Central Election Committee. Even in the GPEC when tickets were allotted to any constituency take Benaulim for example nobody objected to one name being sent of the now losing candidate Valanka Alemao, in fact Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar firmly was advocating that only her name should go and Brar accepted this without adhering to a protocol of a minimum of two names.
Take the Fatorda constituency; everyone knew that the candidate MK Shaikh had no chance of winning quiet simply because he never worked there. But to appease the Muslim voters who were not appeased at all, Oscar took this decision. And today our own Congress candidate is a winner but as an independent. Same is the case with Bicholim were we overlooked our own people for defectors and non-performers.
So much so our powerful political leaders also ensured that its partner NCP gets completely wiped out. And a lot of this NCP debacle could best be answered by NCP Goa Desk-in-Charge Bharathi Chavan.
GC: What about the corrupt Congress leaders who have lost, do you see high command continuing to aid and favor them?
CL: Personally and through experience, I see nothing changing in Goa. The corrupt ministers will continue to be a part of the Congress. Each would be trying to now build his own force once again. New leaders of caliber will be shunted, since their own family members will continue to try and rule to roost. And there will be an exodus of some Congress workers to BJP in the coming months. Some like Alemaos will continue to threaten and talk big, but will eventually try and formulate their own party. Even the likes of Babush, Madkaikar and Reginald will be cozy to the Parrikar government.