TOGETHER: It is the NCP leader Sharad Pawar, who is the master of the game of alliances, who will play a crucial role in defeating Narendra Modi in the 2024 Parliamentary election. It was Sharad Pawar who kept the BJP out of power in Maharashtra by forming an alliance of the Shiv Sena, the Congress and the NCP. Historically, the Shiv Sena has always allied with the BJP.
By Rajan Narayan
Only an alliance of political parties which include the Congress, NCP, the Goa Forward and perhaps even the Trinamool Congress, could liberate Goa from the Taliban-styled BJP
THE Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Goa Forward (GF) have been eager to enter into an alliance with the Congress Party. Indeed, Goa Forward chief Vijai Sardesai was keen on extending support to the Congress party even in the 2017 election. But this was on the condition that Digambar Kamat should be the chief minister. A confidant of Sharad Pawar in Goa has been in touch with Digambar Kamat for an alliance for quite some time.
The alliance could not take place as Luizinho Faleiro was objecting to it. With the exit of Luizinho Faleiro from the Congress party, the High Command has given the green signal for an alliance with like-minded parties. More specifically this is a signal that the Congress can enter into an alliance with Goa Forward and the NCP. Announcing this on Sunday, October 3, senior election observer and former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, stated “the Congress High Command has asked us to talk to like-minded parties and like-minded individuals.” It was pointed out that the Congress has tied up successfully with the GF for the municipal elections in Margao in which the BJP was defeated.
WILL TRINAMOOL JOIN?
TO Luizinho’s claims of uniting all the breakaway Congress groups like the Trinamool Congress, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh and the NCP, it has been made clear that the Congress is not interested in any tie-up with either the Trinamool Congress or the Aam Aadmi party (AAP). Dinesh Gundu Rao, who is the AICC observer in charge of the Goa Desk, alleged that the Trinamool Congress and the AAP are trying to bribe Congress MLAs to defect. Rao insisted that TMC and AAP were offering anywhere between Rs15 lakh to Rs15 crore to induce former MLAs, Zilla Parishad members and even councillors to join the TMC. It may be recalled in the Zilla Parishad elections the Congress-Goa Forward alliance had defeated the BJP.
Contrary to Luizinho’s claims of bringing all the Congress parties together, the Trinamool is on record that it will be contesting all 40 seats in the Goa
Assembly. Every day the TMC keeps announcing the entry of new potential candidates into the party. On Sunday, October 3, it announced the entry of the veteran boxing referee, Lenny D’Gama, who was part of the boxing team officials at the Tokyo Olympics, and also Denzil Franco, former football player for the country.
The target of the West Bengal Sport Minister Manoj Tiwary, who is part of the TMC team campaigning in Goa, was to get Brahmanand Sankhwalkar, who would be a good choice. Unfortunately for TMC, Brahmanant Sankhwalkar is the chairman of the Goa Football Development Council, which has a budget of Rs5 crore. Besides, Brahmanand gets a fat salary. No Goan sportsperson is likely to give up a government job for contesting elections.
TMC has also announced the entry of former footballer Anthony Rebello joining the TMC in of all places Curtorim. Surely the TMC should know that the Curtorim seat is now represented by Congress heavyweight Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, and it would take a very strong candidate to defeat him?
The latest crop of TMC entrants are landscape designer Danial d’Souza and Santosh Shankar Mandrekar, a former employee of Vedanta, the London-based Anil Agarwal company which owns Sesa Goa. Among the first batch of those who joined the TMC in Kolkata in the presence of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee were Sahitya Academy award winner N Shivdas and advocate and activist involved in the Fr Bismaque case Yatin Naik.
NO HEAVYWEIGHTS YET!
BESIDES Luizinho Faleiro neither the AAP nor the TMC have been able to get leading Congress, BJP or MGP members to defect to the Bengali brigade. They were apparently trying to woo Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte who is reportedly all set to join the Congress party. Apparently, the deal is that Rohan Khaunte will get a ticket for his brother Roshan Khaunte, who has taken over the Gasper Dias Tennis Club and the Panaji Gymkhana, besides owning a pub in Panaji.
Michael Lobo who was supposed to join the TMC was seen in the local papers sitting with BJP Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, and has reportedly promised Congress tickets to Michael Lobo as well as wife Delilah Lob for the Siolim seat. The BJP has announced that it has relaxed its policy of giving only one ticket to a family in the case of Goa.
The BJP has no choice. If it had refused Atanasio Babush Monseratte a ticket for his wife Jennifer in Taleigao, the Kingmaker of Tiswadi would have switched to whichever party willing to oblige him. Babush has proved time and again that he does not need political parties to get elected. On the contrary political parties need him to form governments and hold on to power as the late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar learned.
CONGRESS ALSO HUNTING
AS in the case of the TMC, the Congress is also actively poaching candidates from other parties. Among their major catches us Elvis Gomes, former convenor of AAP, who is expected to contest from Cuncolim. Former Mayor Uday Madkaikar has joined the Congress. Surendra Furtado, who has been winning the CCP elections along with his wife Ruth Furtado for more than ten years, has changed his mind and now decided to remain with the Congress party.
As already pointed out the Goa Forward has made it clear that it had never joined the BJP but only extended support because the late Manohar Parrikar had come back to Goa as chief minister. The fact remains that the Congress, being amongst the oldest parties in the State, has its loyal voters.
For instance, a close associate of Luizinho Faleiro, Avertano Furtado, who had contested and won on the BJP ticket in the 2012 elections, has returned to the Congress. He is expected to contest from Navelim against Luizinho’s son Rabindranath Faleiro. Though the NCP has now only one MLA, namely Churchill Alemao, it is possible if his daughter Valanka Alemao is given a ticket, she will contest from Nuvem. Similarly, Joquim Alemao and his son Yuri Alemao may also contest on the Congress ticket.
TOO MANY COOKS!
Too many cooks spoil the broth. The problem with the forthcoming Legislative Assembly in Goa is that there are too many parties and too many candidates. Besides the registered parties there is the Goa Revolutionary party run by a Manoj Porob, who is apparently financed by Goan NRIs with a stake in Goa. This is because Porob has promised to bring a People of Goan Origin (POGO) bill which will offer special benefits to non-resident people of Goan origin.
To add to the confusion the Shiv Sena too has also decided to contest 22 of the 40 seats in the Goa assembly. With so much competition it is not surprising that the TMC is finding it difficult to get its winnable candidates. But it’s I-PAC is supposed to be an extremely professional organisation which does intense research before admitting members or giving them the ticket. Luizinho Faleiro himself has admitted in an interview to the local media that he was persuaded to join the TMC not by Mamata-didi but by Prashant Kishor, the head of I-PAC. Luizinho confessed that he had never met Mamata Banerjee before his decision to join the TMC. So far Prashant Kishor has formidable record.
Prashant Kishor has helped more than half-a-dozen politicians to capture power in past. Starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was the first to hire Prashant Kishor. Since then Prashant has helped Nitish Kumar in Bihar, Arvind Kejriwal in New Delhi, Captain Amarinder Singh in Punjab, Udhav Thackeray in Maharashtra, YSR Reddy in Andhra Pradesh and MK Stalin in Tamil Nadu.
Another I-PAC director assured `Goan Observer’ that Luizinho Faleiro will not be TMC’s chief ministerial candidate in Goa. TMC is confident of winning at least 30 seats and expects many more heavyweight Goan politicians to join it soon. Amongst those who have joined in the latest batch is famous footballer Bruno Coutinho, who is working as a coach with the Sports Authority, he will likely contest for the St Andre seat on TMC ticket.
So far the report has been that Luizinho Faleiro will be given a Rajya Sabha seat to help Mamata-didi to capture the North-Eastern states. Luizinho claims that he has already toppled one North-East state by persuading veteran Congress leader Mukul Sangma to join the TMC along with several of his Congress colleagues. The Manipur elections are scheduled for March 2022, this will make it difficult for Luizinho Faleiro to campaign during the crucial days before the elections.