PANAJI: Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar has stepped down from his post owning the moral responsibility for the party’s debacle in the December 12 zilla panchayat polls.
Chodankar on Wednesday dashed off his letter of resignation to interim Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
While a demand for a change of guard in the state party leadership was inevitable and was largely anticipated in view of the party’s decimation in the polls, Chodankar’s swift and silent move took even the party’s executive committee by surprise.
This is the second time when Chodankar has offered to step down.
In July 2019, Chodankar had resigned as the state Congress President after the Lok Sabha elections citing “moral reasons” following the resignation of Rahul Gandhi as the party’s National President. However, as his resignation was not accepted, Chodankar continued to function as the state president.
If Chodankar’s resignation is accepted this time, it will once again lead to a realignment of political forces within the Congress and the other political parties that have been imploring the Congress to explore an anti-BJP alliance ahead of the 2022 assembly elections.
Importantly, Chodankar had staunchly opposed any alliance with Goa Forward Party (GFP) which is keen on putting together a united opposition to take on the might of the BJP.
GFP president Vijai Sardesai, at a press conference on Tuesday, had attributed the BJP’s sweeping victory to “lack of (credible) political alternative” to the voters. “And the blame for this stops at the principal opposition party,” he had said.
Sources said that Chodankar was perceived as a roadblock towards formation of a grand alliance of opposition parties ahead of the 2022 assembly polls.
Demand for Chodankar’s ouster had also begun to emanate from within the Congress party following the ZP polls.
On Wednesday, South Goa MP Francisco Sardinha had blamed the state Congress leadership for the party’s poor performance.
Sardinha, without naming anybody, had said that “political novices” were taking decisions while ignoring senior Congressmen.
Many within the Congress see Chodankar as disconnected from grass roots sentiments and lacking political strategy.
Under Chodankar’s watch, the party’s spokespersons were seen taking on opposition MLAs more often than the ruling BJP.
Chodankar, who had contested the last Lok Sabha elections from North Goa seat against Union Ayush minister Shripad Naik, lost by more than 1 lakh votes. Since then, there has been a clamour to replace him.
Chodankar had also come under fire after he failed to stop the exit of 10 Congress MLAs, who switched over to the BJP in 2019.
Party insiders said that hardly any efforts to rebuild the party organisation were visible within the last one year or so. Consequently, some senior party functionaries had lately stepped-up efforts to replace Chodankar, over a year before Goa elects a new legislative assembly.
On the day of ZP elections on Saturday, Chodankar had exuded confidence of the Congress party winning both ZP bodies, only to find the party blown to smithereens when the ballot papers were counted on Monday.
Conceding defeat, Chodankar had vowed to rebuild the party, but preferred to quit as voices began baying for his blood.