I like optimistic people. But overly optimistic people devoid of ground realities I find amusing.
So when the President of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, Girish Chodankar optimistically states that Congress will get 25 to 26 seats in the Goa Assembly Elections 2022, I fell off my chair and was rolling in laughter on the floor.
There is no doubt in my mind that some people in Goa are fond of Congress and the Gandhis especially Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. There is a voter base that has always been loyal to Congress and will be loyal to Congress.
This loyalty to Congress almost got them the victory in the Goa Assembly Election 2017. Congress was the single-largest party but they could not form the government because the political leaders in the Congress claim to be working in the interest of the party but often work for their own coveted interests.
The failure to decide on the Chief Ministerial candidate and also forge an alliance with the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) because of their own in-fighting proved to be the Achilles heel of the Congress.
Sadly, Congress has not found a cure to its Achilles Heal in Goa.
The core problem of Congress in the upper echelons of the party leadership in the state is that all aspire to be the Chief Minister because most were Chief Ministers at some point of time during the Congress regime in Goa in the past twenty years.
The second problem is that Congress leaders very rarely allow for leaders from other families to rise in their constituency, that problem exists in Goa too.
Rampant corruption in Congress led to them losing their foothold in Goa in 2012 and it has been on a steady decline since then. In 2017, when they got into pole-position and people of Goa were willing to repose some faith in them, they squandered the opportunity over petty squabbles over who would sit on the Chief Minister’s chair.
In the last five years, Congress lost 13 of their strong political leaders to the BJP. 10 MLAs went in one sweep led by Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar and Atanasio (Babush) Monseratte. They left because they simply did not want to continue to be in the Opposition for the second term and some had the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head due to some corruption cases and rape accusations.
Congress failed to retain its strong political leaders then. Disappointingly too many Congress supporters, even the young upcoming leaders were and are still not given the ample opportunities to rise up the ladder and make a formidable mark in the state because old deadwood still wants to control the show.
Some ambitious young Congress leaders have decided to move to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) instead because they are finding a new vibrancy and opportunity under the leadership of the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Congress never learns because they do not want to learn. It appears that they have conceded to the fact that they will only bark on issues but not bite when it matters.
Goa is not a bastion Congress cannot win. But they will not even come close to 10 seats on its own in the Goa Assembly Elections 2022 for two primary reasons one is that their strategy on Goa is lopsided and devoid of any ground realities; but a second and most important reason is that AAP will eat into the Congress voter-base, especially on those voters that have been fed up of the uncertainties and poor-level of politics of the local Congress leaders.
Congress has two rivals in Goa at this point of time, BJP in the strong position and AAP that will play spoiler in the Congress voter base more than the BJP’s voter base.
On its own Congress does not have a hope in hell to form the government in Goa, it just does not have the dedicated inner drive to achieve this Herculean task. Their opposition to the BJP in the state which has had its fair share of questionable performance was lackluster and downright insignificant. They had several opportunities to put the Dr. Pramod Sawant-led BJP Government on the mat but did not seize the moments. In fact, it was political leaders such as Vijai Sardesai of the GFP and Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte that proved to be better opposition leaders than the Congress that holds the Leader of the Opposition chair.
Congress can only beat the BJP if they are able to forge alliances with the NCP, GFP, and MGP. Forming an alliance with AAP is out of the question for both parties, as they are both not ideologically aligned.
If Congress manages to strike an alliance with the regional parties, instead of putting up the fake bravado that ‘All is Well’ and that we can clap with one hand, it stands a chance to put up a fight against the BJP. Otherwise, mark my words, Congress will decline in Goa and AAP will rise in the years to come.
That’s why I say Congress is a conundrum in Goa!