At the Goa Trinamool Party office women are dropping by to join up! Here is Ethel Lobo being inducted into the party by AITC Goa In-chargeMahua Moitra. Ethel Lobo is former vice-chairperson of Margao Municipal Corporation, a Congresswoman who has been associated with the Congress party for over 30 years and now says at the Congress they don’t take women potential seriously, women workers are as good as doormats! To the right is TMC leader advocate Yatin Naik with the TMC sash to be presented to Ethel Lobo formally.
By Pankajbala R Patel
ONE thing we learn attending the myriad press conferences of the Goa Trinamool Congress which are hard to keep pace with is that – this one feisty, woman-friendly party! I is not surprising that it is attracting several women from other political parties to defect and join the Goa TMC it in the hope that Mamata-didi’s party would be different in its attitude towards women. Women from the Indian National Congress are especially interested in making the shift. Congresswomen who have worked for decades as block and administrative leaders, contributing to the growth of the party over many years. In the end they are left without any sense of gratification or appreciation and pining for a ticket to actually contest an election and get into assembly at least.
It would almost seem that the Congress along with the other political parties do not really take their women members seriously in the larger interests of the party’s future. Under the circumstance is it any wonder that women want to join West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress which has a pro-women friendly attitude?
The newest person to quit the INC is none other than the very vocal Ethel Lobo, former Margao Municipal Council vice-chairperson, who joined the party in the presence of Lok Sabha Member of Parliament and Goa TMC Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra and senior leader advocate Yatish Naik on November 17, 2021. Speaking at her induction at the Goa TMC offices in Panaji, Ethel Lobo confessed that with 30 years of experience behind her working with the Congress in Goa, she felt she was being wasted there. She was fed-up of being a Congresswoman because Congress senior leaders just do not take women seriously in the political arena and they’re as good as doormats.
In comparison she has been impressed by TMC’s Mamata Banajee who is not only “a woman of substance. I’ve been watching her and how she associates with people with her simple touch, not as an arrogant woman.” She offered an alternative government in West Bengal and now with her party in Goa, Ethel Lobo would like to “strengthen her hands because her (Mamata-didi’s) agenda is the epitome of women’s empowerment.” Her party has more than 33% of women representing it in Parliament in Delhi, it is an Opposition with real clout.
In any case, she said, both the Congress and BJP parties enjoy a mutual admiration society and are constantly invading each other’s space whenever it is convenient! Ethel Lobo took her decision to join the Goa Trinamool party quite simply because “Mamata Banarjee is anti-BJP!” Other parties are made up of conductors, wheeler dealers, match fixers, collectors and she remembers how she herself spent 10 years helping to build the Congress party, but now she would like to seek greener pastures with the Goa Trinamool party “because the Congress in Goa is no more the Congress I joined much earlier.”
A media person asked if her joining the TMC is a prelude to South Goa Congressman Sardinha also joining, but Ethel Lobo dodged the question, replying that this question be put to the Congressman himself. Both senior Congress fellows Francisco Sardinha and Luzinho Faleiro had at various times protested to the Congress High Command about Congress leadership in Goa.
Responding to a query the very savvy TMC new Goa in-charge (who replaces AITMC Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien), AITC Member of Parliament Mahua Moitra, clarified that at the Trinamool they take women seriously and they will have no problem fielding a woman chief ministerial candidate providing she is a deserving candidate. The party led by Mamata Banarjee does not practice gender discrimination.
Mahua Motra herself had grown up thinking that Goa was the ultimate enlightened state in the country but instead she found there have been very few women in its state assembly, in a larger perspective this is a matter of concern because women legislators in a decision making capacity would balance governance which tends to be overwhelmingly male dominated and patria-rchal. Clearly in Goa too there is a need to change how women in politics are perceived.
The Goa Trinamool Congress now has quite a roll call of several new women joinees as they are described. Just to name some of them there is there is former AAP MP contestant and former INC spokesperson Swati Kerkar, former BJP Goa Mahila Morcha executive committee member Diksha Talavenekar, former Goa Congress Pradesh Committee Mahila Vice-President and social media in-charge Pratibha Borkar Daghe, former general secretary of INC Mahila Wing Priya Rathore (also mahila president of the Banjara Samaj Goa), Aishwarya Salgaonkar (president of Shiv Sena Mahila Agahadi Sanghatak), former INC Block Mahila president Doris Texeira, Razia Sayed (social activist), Saida Subhan Saeed (Meri Duniya NGO), Apsara Khan, Mrinalini Deshprabhu, Farrel Furtado (former MLA of Velim), Saiyada Shaikh of Taleigao-based NGO), Shalini K Gaude, former Mayem sarpanch Anita Naik and several more, not to forget the latest joinee Ethel Lobo (who is also president of the Goa Catholic Association).
The Goa TMC as it competes with that other so called “outsider” party Aam Aadmi party to make inroads in Goa’s election scenario will be worth watching. Currently, promises and guarantees of ache din for the people are flying back and forth. But Goa’s people were described by the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru as “ajeeb” and it left to be seen how convincingly all the political rhetoric going around works out in the next two months. Goa will go to assembly polls first week of February 2022 but so far none of the parties in the fray have declared their candidates in the 40 constituencies.
Or for that matter released their manifestoes on the basis of which the electorate will make up its mind. That is if the electorate of Goa takes political manifestos seriously anymore! Educated Goa has become jaded and cynical and most Goans know that elections are all about money power and little else. Everybody comes to Goa for it is easy to win in Goa with its small number of voters – in contrast the money to be made is big and who doesn’t want it?