Membership Drive: At the AICC meet of Congress stalwarts announced details of a fresh drive for members (inset) Goa incharge, Dinesh Gundu Rao
By Tara Narayan
— Congress party’s Goa desk in charge Dinesh Rao
CAN the old venerable English-speaking Congress take on young Hindi-speaking BJP? In Goa it could because Goa is not yet so steeped in the Hindi dadagiri of the Hindi-speaking states of north India! Goa still continues to enjoy a cosmopolitan spirit given its Portuguese colonial heritage perceived as good, bad or ugly in Goa today. Konkani, English and less so Portuguese still continue to be the happy lingua franca spoken freely here.
Needless to say, any kind of colonization past or present tends to come the name of exploitation. In the case of Portuguese time Goa there are also the conversions at the point of a do or die sword to deal with! Even if those days are gone with the winds of time. Can we leave history in the past where it belongs as a lesson learned in not how to mess up the present needlessly?
To cut to the present a long since liberated Goa is currently celebrating its countdown to the 60th year of Liberation, and a first-time ever BJP in power for six years running, is doing its best to chase away the blues of the many consolidated years of Congress rule. Congress or BJP, some things remain the same and it is with reason that the widespread perception is that the Congress may be out of power but it’s in a marriage of convenience with the BJP. May one call it an unholy marriage united by common dreams of making the most of the public kitty for personal gratification – at the expense of qualitatively better public infrastructure for the common people of course.
So it goes, still senior Goans remember the warmth, cordiality and vision of the first Chief Minister of Goa Dayanand Bandodkar who wanted to see all Goans educated in the three R’s at least and so set up a slew of Marathi language schools. Perhaps it was the only time perhaps when Goa witnessed maximum governance and minimum government! All that changed later when the rot set in with successive Congress chief ministers and nothing has changed with the BJP determined to hang on to power by hook or by crook.
In game of democracy when elections are getting more and more fraught with hustling of the unsavory kind, it’s anyone’s guess who’s playing holier than thou – the Congress or the BJP? All this was palpable clear at the Coordination Committee meeting at first at the Congress House and follow-up meeting at the GPCC on Saturday, February 6, 2021, when Congress party’s Goa desk in charge Dinesh Gundu Rao detailing how the Congress party is being revamped with a digital membership drive in both south and north Goa and he hopes by March 10 all membership forms will be in and completed.
A re-hauling of the party from the bottoms up is on the cards with block, district committees and he PCC to be reconstituted. He is here to oversee that conventions take place at all levels. In the forthcoming elections the Congress is determined to convince the people that this time the Congress means business despite all the shocking or not so shocking tragedies which befell it once in the Opposition (with many of its own stalwarts shifting allegiance to the BJP).
Apart from reiterating that the Congress is the only party still equipped to take on the BJP in Goa, Mr Gundu Rao said that the common perception that it was the B team of the ruling party behind the scenes will be erased in the popular mind once and for all. Party loyalists both veteran seniors and a vast following at ground level is anxious to make sure that this time the Congress will not be caught sleeping if it is given a second chance to make good in capturing power for the cause of saving democracy.
After all, he told media people present, the BJP has proved to be a dictatorship, “Never before has India seen such a party coming to power on so many promises but heading for disaster…religious fears are back and there is social unrest, even national security is in danger, our friends in the neighborhood become our enemies. The two crore jobs promise has been forgotten…” Mr Gundu Rao didn’t mince his words, observing that it is as if a mafia is running the country, “in a situation of fear, with raids and the media being arrested and jailed…” In short, this is the politics of divide and rule.
In this respect, he said, the Congress is a national party with a difference, “We will not sell Goa, we’ll take on all issues and take hard decisions.” The Congress is not here to break anyone, “but we are back to listen to the minds of the people, we are here for all Goans.” Present at the meet were familiar Congressmen former chief minister Digambar Kamat, former Union minister Ramakant Khalap, Curtorim MLA Alexio Reginaldo Lourenco and others. Former minister Eduardo Faleiro’s new publication `Goa and Beyond’ was released on the occasion, it’s a hardcover priced at Rs150 and contains the writings of the author over the years. It has been published and printed by Rama Harmalkar of Ra Press, Goa.
The years have caught up with Eduardo Faleiro but he is known to be a loyal Congressman, the first Goan politician to hold several portfolios at the Centre in the Rajiv Gandhi and C Narsimha Rao-led Congress governments; Faleiro pretty much had an inside out view of the working of the Congress party while in power at the Centre. His writings are worth catching up with if one is seeking some quick insight into the political influence of the Congress in power, achievements and programs, many of which the BJP is adding and subtracting to suit its own political agenda.