Politics is bitter and many a times politicians have to swallow a bitter pill. And sometimes it is often a friendship that is sacrificed. Nothing can be more true to the above statement than in the current scenario on the Congress ticket candidate from Fatorda.
For a long time Vijai Sardesai considered by some to be a controversial and manipulative politician, and yet by another set of people to be a person with the political acumen to do something different and good for his constituency and Goa; has been working in order to cement his position in Fatorda. Of course, Vijai’s ‘Pratima’ in this case his political image has always put him in tight situations, where many have come together to ensure that he looses. This is something that was evident in the last election, when even his now close friend and Chief Minister of Goa Kamat ensured that he lost to the BJP MLA Damodar Naik. Some quarters where extremely happy that he was shown a closed door.
His failure did not dissuade him. In fact it only inspired him further to fight all odds and go after it once again.
Pratima too is a young, aspiring woman with a strong will to do something good for Goa. Both Vijai and she have been friends for a long time. And much of Pratima’s political acumen has been further brushed by the guidance and advices of Vijai. In fact, their camaraderie was so evident in the Margao council elections and then at the Youth Congress election; in which Pratima’s ‘Vijay’ over the Alemao clan and every other politician of merit who stood by the Alemao wave, stood tall and respected in most circles of the Congress party in Goa but most of all in Delhi and in particular with the PM-in-waiting Rahul Gandhi.
Since the news of Pratima being a probable candidate from Fatroda on account of a recommendation of Rahul Gandhi has been made known, even before the final list is out by the Central Election Committee; a section of Vijai supporters started to take-on Pratima and brand her as a back-stabber and betrayer. In the hope that people making the decision on the tickets might reconsider that Vijai is a popular candidate. There is no doubt that Vijai’s brains are behind this and his people will stand by him. And his frustration and disappointment is understandable. Anyone in his place would feel that. In fact his friends in some media especially a local popular daily, which is still battling its ‘Paid-News’ stigma got heavily into the act and started to go overboard in their editorial. While his supporters think Pratima’s image is being belittled, they fail to understand that Vijai’s ‘Pratima’ is also getting tarnished at the same time not only here but at the Congress high command.
Pratima too in her own aggressive style hit out at Vijai and a local paper showcased it in a headline ‘Vijai is a defeated candidate’. And quite frankly that is the truth. Both Vijai and Pratima know it; the Congress party here and in Delhi know that. And even Vijai’s well-wishers and haters know that. So when a close-friend says it, it hurts even more. Its like holding a mirror to your face and showing you the reality. Nobody likes it.
But in all this what is disappointing and sad to see is that people on either side (their supporters) and those revelling in this friction; some are the very same people they have fought in the Municipal elections and Youth Congress elections are egging them forward to go after each other; and I suppose they would stand by the strongest. Just like spectators watching Gladiators fight.
Here is the predicament that lies between two friends; and I know for a fact that both are friends, everyone supporting them now as part of the political circus is just a mere opportunist or a paid piper.
Vijai has two main concerns on the ticket; Pratima is one of his concerns the other is MK Shaikh. When the Goa Pradesh Election Committee meeting happened only two names were sent that of Vijai and MK Shaikh. But in some cases if there are deserving candidates that do not make it to GPEC list for whatever reason (most times it because it because of the political lobbies); In this case it is the recommendation of Pratima from Rahul Gandhi. In other case even Frankie Sequeira and Edwin Baretto from the Benaulim constituency made it to the list later on recommendations; even though GPEC on the Benaulim issue was hijacked by the Alemao clan and their supporters. (There might be quite. a surprise here, which is why there is a delay in the declaration of the candidates in all constituencies)
By Rahul Gandhi’s recommendation and the Muslim candidate conundrum, Vijai was relegated to the third option and Pratima shot to the first preference.
While many would like to advocate that the PM-in-waiting might know nothing about ground realities of Goa and Fatorda. I think no decision is made without thought and expected outcome. But the recommendation has been made and that is a fact.
Today getting a ticket has become an issue of prestige; in fact some of Goa politicians have paid their pound of flesh to try to get a ticket, even now the powerhouses are not sure. So when by virtue of a recommendation by none other than Rahul Gandhi, if the CEC decides to give it to Pratima. Should she reject the opportunity? And would anyone else in this situation with an eye on a political career do it, including Vijai. I doubt it.
Has Vijai worked hard in Fatorda for the last couple of year? Of course he has. Can he win the election? He has a good chance, but Vijai contesting will bring the other players to the fore who will deliberately drag him down. And while he might manage some; the Anti-Vijai force will make it difficult. Of course his advisors have been telling him that he is a clear winner. But it might not be so. If it is was a one-one fight, then situation would be different. But unfortunately Vijai has his political ‘Pratima’ with him and that drags him down. But if Vijai is given the ticket, then both friends must combine together and ensure that they fight the odds.
Is Pratima a winable candidate? Even this is unpredictable because honestly, while she is from Fatorda, there has not been any aggressive ground work done, yet. But what will certainly happen is that the ‘Anti-Vijai’ elements will move out. The opposition will get complacent. And if they both- Vijai and Pratima combine, they can win and the party wins. But most of all they come together and fight out their common enemies and triumph. The win stays in their camp. And if she is given the ticket, they must combine and fight the odds.
While the Fatorda candidate is yet to be declared. The question that will arise, when it is declared, is that between two friends is ‘who is capable of a greater sacrifice’ and at times it is moments like these that test true friends. Whether politicians can be friends is going to be a million dollar question It is a tall task for both of them to ask.
But I pray in all this friendship survives. Because it should not matter who gets the ticket, what matters is that they win together.