The recent induction of 8 Congress MLAs into the BJP, maybe looked upon by some of the leaders at the Centre and State as a classic move of decimating the opposition and I agree with the logic behind the move.
But, political machinations aside, BJP Goa did not need to repeat their 2019 strategy in 2022 because as a party they are in majority.
In 2019, when BJP orchestrated what it thought would be a ‘coup de grace’ for Congress, people of Goa were fuming with anger at the audacity and arrogance of the BJP.
The move did not decimate the Congress in Goa at all. Intriguingly it lit a spark of some sort of revival of the Congress party in Goa.
They growing of AAP in Goa, emergence of RGP and the special appearance of Trinamool Congress acted like drops of water to douse the Congress fire in the state that was on a verge of igniting due to the spark.
If you were to analyse the performance of the Congress in Goa, they did not win the election, but they did cross double digits from being reduced to single digits in 2019 during the ‘coup de grace’ from their single-largest party position of 17 in the Assembly Elections in 2017.
The induction of the 10 Congress MLAs and 2 Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) did not add stimulus to the BJP electoral performance in 2022. Only 3 from the 10 Congress MLAs who joined BJP won the election. None of the MGP MLAs who joined BJP won the election. So out of 12 MLAs that defected to the BJP, 9 lost the election.
Disappointingly, both the deputy Chief minister Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar and Deputy Chief Minister Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar lost the election. While Babu Azgaonkar faced a powerful adversary in Margao; Babu Kavlekar faced a new Congress face, relatively unknown, compared to clout Kavlekar holds in Quepem, but still he lost.
There is a lesson to learn in the loss of the 7 Congress MLAs and 2 MGP MLAs who joined the BJP after winning the elections from their respective political parties. Voters do not like to be taken for granted or be fooled. Leaders with a strong vote share of their own managed to survive. The three who won did not win handsomely, there were heartburn moments but they got through. Atanasio (Babush Monserrate) nearly lost to Former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar who left the BJP to contest as an Independent.
BJP is in a comfortable position after winning the Assembly Elections in 2022. The need to induct more defectors is perplexing even if we were to moot the upcoming Lok Sabha Elections of 2024.
Logic will teach you that with any action, we must prepare for an equal and opposite reaction. There is no guarantee that with this stealth move of inducting Congress MLAs, both seats of the Lok Sabha will be in BJP bag.
North Goa is undoubtedly BJP bastion but South Goa especially Salcete is not a simple walk in the park. And after last week’s attempt at ‘coup de grace’ of the Congress it is definitely going to be walking on nails strewn across the park.
The act of defection, even though it is two-third majority and legally tenable, to me is wrong. I do not term it wrong from a moralistic point of view, it is difficult for morality and politics to coexist harmoniously. It is wrong from a strategic point of view.
Most people that became the thorn in the flesh to defeat the defectors that defected in 2019 were the BJP workers themselves. They did it silently. They felt betrayed. Most of the defected-turned BJP candidates lost to Congress candidates because some BJP workers decided to teach party leaders a lesson.
Opposition has been complaining that BJP repeated a Maharashtra in Goa with their money power. The difference between Maharashtra and Goa is that until now Shiv Sena has not merged into the BJP and I do not think it will. So the Eknath Shinde camp of Shiv Sena continues to hold on to its identity. More importantly, the mandate of the people of Maharashtra was for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance. Uddhav Thackeray in his greed for the CM position trampled on the people’s mandate and formed an alliance with NCP and Congress for power.
In Goa, 8 of the Congress MLAs who joined the BJP now were not voted into power because they were in the BJP, they were voted into power because they were against the BJP. That to me is a betrayal of the voter and the voter will not remain silent. The voter will hit back when it matters the most, we saw it in Goa numerous times. You cannot take the voter for granted.
The reason for Congress MLAs to join the BJP is obvious. Being in opposition has its disadvantages and being in opposition for a third-time will be indisputably draining on one’s financial resources. Therefore, it was the only move left for former Chief minister of Goa Digambar Kamat – survive or perish. He opted to survive. For now, he will survive. But in 2027, whether he survives or perishes will be up to the voters of Margao.
Other than Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo joining the BJP from the Congress, every other MLA who joined is dispensable.
The mistake BJP is making in Goa is that it is focused on winning elections and entertaining defectors. It is not building a party of people from the grassroots. It is failing to allow for the germination of grassroots leaders with a core party ideology.
Development is the mantra of nation and state, which it should be; but a political party is built on the sweat of the party worker, who hopes to climb the ladder of success for being committed to the party. Induction of an outsider, repeatedly kills the spirit of dedication and devotion to the party worker and its ideology.
Most of the BJP MLAs in Goa are not grassroots BJP workers and have nothing to do with the BJP ideology. They have merely adopted BJP. Some will added value. Some will not.
Decimation of the opposition cannot be done with decimating the ideology of the party or the aspirations of a committed party worker for short-term political gains that are never explained to the party workers.
The ‘coup de grace’ if not executed to perfection is like a double-edged sword that can behave like a boomerang that can create some mishaps politically in the long-run. So while I admit that it is a stealth and strategic political machination move, I fail to see, BJP benefitting from it in the months ahead. It will be a start to turmoil within.
The real big loser is not the BJP but the Congress because people will not gravitate to the Congress anymore because there will be no pointing of voting for the Congress. People in Goa will move to to AAP, Goa Forward Party and RGP.