It is whispered in the corridors of All India Congress Committee (AICC), ‘no one can defeat a Congress candidate other than a Congress candidate’. Nothing can be more true than that statement, because quite frankly Congress is responsible for the Congress debacle at Centre & State.
Their own in-fighting and upmanship is all that is required to bring the Congress house crumbling. In Goa their tales of being relinquished further out of Goa’s political space only gets more firm each passing day with Congress fighting Congress.
Let’s take the new President – John Fernandes. A man who remained absolutely silent for the last ten years, never once contributed in words or deeds to the growth of the Congress at grassroot level and neither has he won an election for the Congress at any point of time as a Congress leader. He got his Rajya Sabha MP post, because that’s how Congress rewards some of its loyalists.
Fernandes, got the President position because of his closeness to Goa Observer Digvijay Singh and because the Congress wanted to please the Catholic Church..
However, Congress failed to understand Fernandes. Loyalty is one aspect, aptitude & skill another. Fernandes lacks the most necessary trait required for a State Unit Leader; ‘party above all attitude, even me’.
Fernandes took his position serious and set out on a vendetta against his known rivals – Ranes – and this vendetta continues even now and will be the cause for a serious rupture of the Congress in the days to come.
Fernandes lacks the patience of a hunter. The Ranes in Goa’s political scene are like dangerous vipers. They do possess tremendous clout both in Delhi and Goa. So you don’t just step on a viper. You wait for the viper to attack.
Funnily, Fernandes surrounded himself with wannabes and young eager political opportunists like Pratima Coutinho, Urfan Mullah and the old dead wood at Congress house like Altinho Gomes, Savio DeSouza, Arthur Sequeira, Babi Bhatkar & Amarnath Panjikar to take on some of the biggest vipers, cobras and pythons of Goa’s political jungle.
With this motley crew of ‘we know it all’, they decided to set-up a ‘disciplinary committee’ to target senior leaders of the Congress – such as Pratapsingh Rane, Vishwajit Rane, Ravi Naik, Joaquim Alemao, Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate. Strangely, some of the members of the ‘Disciplinary Committee’ themselves have worked against their own Congress leaders.
Let’s take Pratima Coutinho – a well-known political opportunist. Stepped-over a strong political friendship with now Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai because of the greed to get a ticket from the constituency, he was nurturing for the last many years. Even before the final names could be declared of the Congress candidate, she removed her daggers out to attack her political mentor, all in the name of ‘Rahulji’.
Well as this story goes, both Vijai and Pratima did not get the ticket. Vijai won the election and is now even more powerful and purposeful than the entire Congress put together.
During the Assembly Elections in 2012, when her husband was contesting on a TMC ticket from Margao, from where Congress Chief Minister Digambar Kamat was also contesting; she conveniently decided to go out of Goa and help Congress in another state-related election rather than help a fellow Congressman Kamat, because of a long-standing feud at Margao Municipal Council.
Yet again her rolling-stone husband who by now decided that TMC was not for him, better to be on the winning-side, switched his allegiance to BJP and actively campaigned for the party. So while husband campaigned for BJP, she claimed to campaign for Congress. Today Pratima Coutinho has been made convenor of the Disciplinary Committee, after former MLA & Spokesperson Jitendra Deshprabhu was removed for his non-agreement to Fernandes’s personal vendetta against the Ranes. She appears to have a single-minded mission to ensure Goa Pradesh Youth Congress Valanka Alemao is expelled.
Letters of her anti-party activities have also been forwarded to Congress President & Vice-President.
On the other-hand defeated Lok Sabha candidate and Curtorim Congress MLA Alexio Reginald Lourenco has a mission to ensure that former Congress MP Francisco Sardinha and son Shalom Sardinha are removed from the Congress through the Disciplinary Committee. Now Reginald as many would know was never a Congressman, he came to the Congress party due to merger of the Churchill Alemao Save Goa Party and Congress some years back in exchange for Cabinet berths. After trying to take centre-stage lobbying for the GPCC President’s post which later went to Fernandes. He along with Vijai Sardesai using a weakness of Digvijay Singh and an Intelligence Officer, ensured that the report given to Congress President Sonia Gandhi showed Reginald as winning and Sardinha as losing. Now after losing the elections, Reginald wants to go after the Sardinha’s and also the Alemao’s because he holds them responsible for his loss to a rather demure BJP candidate when compared to his ‘bull-like attitude’.
Of the lot of young leaders that Congress has with them on Centre-stage who have some chutzpah in them would be Sunil Kawathankar and former BJP member Durgadas Kamat. However, Kawathankar appears to be a man of steal and vision, his drive on the drugs issue and PWD scam has been commendable. Durgadas Kamat on the other hand is like the politician he is trying to ape MLA Vijai Sardesai – a ‘paper tiger’. He takes up good issues, some he completely misses the mark because of his immaturity and fails to complete the judicial process necessary to it. But if guided he can be quite a leader in the days to come.
Here is however what I see happening in the coming days; John Fernandes will be replaced as GPCC President and most likely the young-leaders recently appointed will also be reconsidered. If not there is going to be a serious clash between the senior-Congress leaders and Fernandes with his motley crew.