HELPLESS: Congress MLAs stand during a floor test in the Legislative Assembly, losing power at the helm despite winning 17 of 40 seats in the recent elections ( Pic by Gourish Poke)
Manohar Parrikar and his band of merry men have snatched the spoils of war from the hands of the Congress
NEVER has democracy taken such a funny turn. Funny as well as ominous for the future of Goa. It looks like the Congress of fat cats didn’t see a good fish when it landed on its lap in the form of 17 seats and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) only 13 seats in the Assembly election in Goa. At the special session of the fifth Legislative Assembly on March 16, 2017, it was the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP coalition government which proved its majority in the house by a ratio of now 22 for the BJP and 16 for the Congress!
As one of Vijai Sardessai’s Goa Forward party friend crowed in justification, “This is about how the early bird caught the worm!” This is the time in the history of democracy or demo-crazy in Goa… sometimes you may win but you can lose!” Especially if governor of Goa Mridula Sinha is not on your side.
After the initial fall-out and public outcry from voters, it looks like all is forgiven in the Vijay Sardessai camp and they’re one big happy family happily ensconced with Parrikar and his promises to make the Goem, Goemkar, Goemkarponn dream come true. Looks can be deceptive tough even if at the moment it looks like all is well, with most Sardesai detractors willing to wait and see how much of the Goa Forward party manifesto chief minister Parrikar will entertain in the new coalition government.
Will the BJP stalwarts adopt the coconut (GF’s symbol) and its slogan of Goem, Goemkar, Goemkarponn to sing a new song along with the lotus, which is beginning to look more and more like a trishul.
Visitors and media galleries were packed in the Assembly hall as BJP and Congress victors in the elections took their oath before the mandatory counting of heads to decide who will form the government. Soon after the oath-taking, all Congress MLA stood for a head count and lo and behold this time the Congress got 16 heads – one head, that of MLA Vishwajit Rane, had vanished for a break outdoors. Papa Pratapsingh Raoji Rane didn’t look helpless at all – from the looks of it, Rane junior has defected to the winning BJP side. He is not going to sit with whatever Opposition is left in the Goa government!
In fact, after the initial euphoria of the Congress being the party with the largest number of seats, it looked like so much spilt milk, once Goa governor Mridula Sinha preferred to give Parrikar’s BJP with its “fractured verdict” an earlier hearing. Then began the scandalous race to do and un-do numbers in a game scary in its implications for democracy’s survival in Goa.
Various Congress leaders appealed to Vijai Sardessai to re-think whose side he wants to be on – Congress or BJP – but it was too late and neither the GF chief nor Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s (MGP) Sudin Dhavlikar were going to oblige Congress bigwigs by giving it the magic number of 21 or more. They prefer to trust Parrikar! So after the jhat paat swearing in of the new BJP coalition ministers on March 14, at Raj Bhavan, the game was as good as over with the new coalition BJP government rejoicing it its fell victory!
Murmurs of discontent Congress MLAs have begun to fill media ears about how injustice has been perpetrated. Some are willing to resign their Congress victory to further swell the victorious BJP dispensation which continues to inspire ire in large sections of Goa’s public for having stolen the original Congress mandate to form the government. It is left to be seen how many turncoats such a scenario throw up in the days to come. Nobody wants to sit in the Opposition in Goa! Say democracy is dead, long live “demo-crazy”!
At the press conference which followed the final Assembly counting of numbers, a beaming Parrikar confirmed that nothing can stop him from now forming the new coalition government with its 22 MLAs, a number which may further go up if unhappy Congress MLAs resign to jump aboard the BJP bandwagon. Winning by hook or by crook is what defines “demo-crazy” in a failing democracy be it on a national or state elections scale. Ominous really, not funny at all.