VICTORIOUS: The Aam Aadmi party with the support of Goencho Avaaz managed to capture the Colva panchayat which has been a stronghold of Churchill Alemao.
By Rajan Narayan
The BJP having lost the three states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tamil Nadu is losing its credibility. The AAP victory in the Panchayat election in Colva shows their growing influence. If the AAP joins hands with Goencho Avaaz and the NCP they will be able to displace the BJP from the State Legislative Assembly in the fourthcoming election.
NATIONWIDE, the BJP has lost its credibility. The failure of Narendra Modi to anticipate and prepare for the second wave of covid-19 has cost him badly. The latest shock that he has received is the decision of Mukul Roy in West Bengal to return to the Trinamol Congress. On the eve of the Assembly elections in West Bengal, the BJP had triumphantly declared that Mukul Roy, who had started the Trinamol with Mamata, had decided to join BJP. Several other TMC leaders also joined the BJP in the belief that the saffron party would dislodge the “tigress” of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee.
But to the shock of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, who tried to pull the Hindutuva trick in West Bengal, the TMC came back to power with a thumping majority. The even bigger blow to the BJP is the fact that Mukul Roy, who had been appointed vice-president of the BJP in West Bengal returned to the open, welcoming arms of Mamata.
BJP LOSES SOUTH
THE recently concluded elections in five states have been disastrous for the BJP. The BJP, which was hoping to gain control of the south, failed miserably. The BJP aligned with the All-India Annadravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIDMK) which had dominated Tamil Nadu under the leadership of Jaylalita. To the shock of the BJP, the rival DMK led by Stalin, the son of Karunanidhi, one of the founders of the Regional Movement, won the elections again by 2/3rds majority.
The BJP’s attempts to dislodge the Left from its strongest bastian Kerala also failed. The Congress and the Left have always dominated Mallu-land. This time around also the Left Democratic Front, which was an alliance of several parties, including parties who have control over the Muslim vote, defeated the BJP in Kerala. The only state in the south which the BJP continues to control is Karnataka. Even there, there is a revolt against the veteran 80 years plus Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa.
SET BACK FOR YOGI
THE even bigger shock to the BJP has come in Uttar Pradesh, where it had won all the 80 parliamentary seats in the biggest state in the country in the 2019 parliamentary elections. Modi made the mistake of making a Hindutuva fanatic, Yogi Adityanath, the chief minister. The god man chief minister has shown no capacity to govern a state where Dalits and Muslims form the majority of the population. If there is any state in the country where Hindutuva has never gained a foothold, it is Uttar Pradesh.
In UP the Dalit vote bank is so strong that Mayawati, a prominent Dalit leader, became the chief minister of the state. For several decades the control of the state remained limited to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati and the Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Yadav. Mayawati’s mentor Kanshi Ram did in Uttar Pradesh what Dayanand Bandodkar did in Goa. It may be recalled that Dayanand Bandodkar united all the lower castes into the Bahujan Samaj and much to the shock of the Congress won the first assembly election in Goa.
Indeed, the Bahujan Samaj, which called itself the Maharashtravadi Gomantak party, ruled Goa for the first 18 years. The Congress could come to power only in the 80s after the MGP then led by Shashikala Kakodkar.
UP also has the largest Muslim population amongst all the Indian states in the country. Indeed, Lucknow is the epitome of Urdu culture. In UP there is a revolt against Swami Yogi Adityanath. The general perception is that the BJP has a scarcity of good leaders. Increasingly, the BJP is stealing senior leaders from the Congress which had virtually collapsed. The big shock to the Congress is the defection of senior leader, Jitendra Prasad, to the BJP recently. There is strong possibility that some other Congress leaders may also join the BJP. The speculation is that Swami Yogi Adityanath may be replaced by Jitendra Prasad, a veteran Congress leader, as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh.
In Rajasthan there is a tussle going on between two senior Congress leaders, Kamalnath and Sachin Pilot who is the son of senior Congress leader Rajesh Pilot. The harsh ground reality is that Rahul Gandhi is not able to command the support of the senior leaders of the Congress. The Congress only respects leaders who can win elections for them. Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi could not even retain his own seat and lost to the saas-bahu small screen star Smriti Irani. Who, however, turned out to be a disaster as a minister and has been shifted from important portfolios like Information & Broadcasting to minor departments like Textiles.
BJP LOSING GROUND
COMING to Goa the Congress has never recovered from the shock it received in 2017. To the surprise of the Congress itself the party won 17 of the 40 seats in the Legislative Assembly. In a pre-poll alliance with Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward who brought three seats, the Congress could have easily formed the government. But because of the infighting within the Congress, the kodel was hijacked by the BJP. Even as talks were going on between the Congress and Goa Forward, BJP’s Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, managed to persuade Vijai to join the BJP. The cementing factor was the late Manohar Parrikar, who decided to return to Goa as chief minister, resigning the prestigious post of Union defence minister.
Besides the Goa Forward the MGP and some other Independents like Rohan Khaunte, also joined the BJP. But their loyalty was not to the BJP but to Manohar Parrikar. When Manohar Parrikar died of pancreatic cancer in 2018 there was a revolt against the appointment of Pramod Sawant as the chief minister of Goa.
Both the Goa Forward and the MGP withdrew support. Though in the case of the MGP two of the its three MGP MLAs merged with the BJP. It was Babush Atanasio Monserrate, who had come to the rescue of the late Manohar Parrikar who again came to the help of the BJP in 2000.
THE BABUSH FACTOR
BABUSH persuaded ten of the original 17 of the Congress MLAs to defect and join the BJP. Earlier, while Parrikar was alive, Mauvin Godinho and Vishwajit Rane had quit the Congress and re-contested and won on the BJP ticket. With the fight between Luzinho Falerio and Digambar Kamat continuing, the Congress has no chance of coming back to power. Just as Luzinho sabotaged the certainty of the Congress forming the government in 2017, he will not let anyone else be the chief minister in the fourth coming Assembly elections.
The BJP under Pramod Sawant has lost the confidence of the majority of its own MLAs. Pramod has been fighting with Vishwajit on covid-19 management. Nilesh Cabral declared war against him for not providing the finance for strengthening infra-structure for power. There is also the on going fight between Nilesh and Pramod over counselling between the first and second stage of the civil marriage process in Goa. Michael Lobo has always been at war with Pramod.
The most dramatic part is that of the 13 seats that the BJP originally won in the 2017 elections, 11 were won by Catholic candidates. The rumours are that the ten MLAs who defected to the BJP and faced the prospect of disqualification may join Sharad Pawar’s National Congress party. Which is one of the reasons why there is a fresh revival of the Gomantak media group under the directorship of former Lokmat editor Raju Naik.
The Gomantak group is owned by a cousin of Sharad Pawar, Ajit Pawar, who bought it from the Chowgules. Gomantak is the earliest newspaper in any language after Liberation and still commands a lot of respect among Marathi leaders, though the English edition Gomantak Times did not take off and is shut for the moment.
BACK GOENCHO AVAAZ
IT IS the regional groups in Goa who have the best chance of forming the next government in the State. There were lots of expectations from the Aam Aadmi party. Unfortunately, the AAP has not been able to convert the support it enjoys among the middle class, into seats in the Legislative Assembly. It may be recalled that Valmiki Naik, who contested against Babush Monserrate, after the seat fell vacant due to the death of Parrikar, lost very badly to Monserrate who contested on the BJP ticket.
Several other AAP leaders including Elvis Gomes also lost in the last election. There is a perception that AAP is a Delhi party and its leaders have not been able to build a base among the Bahujan Samaj and the minorities. The fact that they keep changing leaders has not helped them. The latest AAP chief Rahul Mhambre is even less known than Elvis Gomes. It would have made a major difference if Dr Oscar Rebello had accepted the president’s role in AAP.
ACTIVISTS LACK STRATAGY
THE group or party which is gaining a lot of popularity is Goencho Avaaz, led by Captain Venzy Rodrigues. The Goencho Avaaz, is the grassroots activist party. It has successfully fought many battles like the demand for cancelling the double tracking of the South Western Railway and the location of the power transmitter in Mollem. Recently, the Goencho Avaaz won a major victory when they managed to take over the Benaulim panchayat. This despite the fact that Benaulim was controlled by the veteran Churchill Alemao.
Unfortunately, the activist NGO which wants to transform itself into a political party to fight the election, is limited to South Goa. It does not have much of a presence in North Goa. While it has a large number of very active workers it does not seem to have mastered electoral politics in Goa.
The Goencho Avaaz must do what the first chief minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar, did. Bring together not only the Bahujan Samaj but also the migrants and the Muslim minority which have become major vote banks in Goa. The two most successful leaders, Digambar Kamat in the south and Babush Monserrate in the north keep getting re-elected because of the support of the Muslim and migrant population.
THE Goencho Avaaz should do what Arvind Kejriwal did in Delhi. Kejriwal managed to convince the migrant population they could get as a matter or right what the politicians were offering them as a favour. Kejriwal made life easier for the minorities and the Muslims and indeed, got all of them ration and Aadhar cards and other documents. During covid-19 he even wanted to deliver rations home-to-home to avoid the corruption prevalent in ration shops. Kejriwal exempted the poor from power tariffs.
Kejriwal modernised government schools with the result that the students of the poorer classes fared better than the children of the richer classes in private schools. Who would imagine government schools with smart blackboards?
Which is what the AAP should do in collaboration with Goencho Avaaz. They should also help young people get their vaccine shots. They should organise training so that those who have lost their jobs to covid-19 can find jobs in the digital world. Goencho Avaaz should woo both migrants and Muslim vote bank which now comprises almost 20% of the total population of Goa. And an alliance of AAP, Goencho Avaaz and the NCP, has the best chance of displacing the BJP from Goa.