New Congress with new faces all set to be a dynamic opposition. The induction ceremony which took place on April 11 2022 welcomed new Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Amit Patkar along with working President Yuri Alemao, district presidents for North and South Goa Viren Shirodkar and Savio d’Silva. It was a happy, cordial and poignent moment for former GPCC president Girish Chodankar to hand over the party administrator books to the new team. Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo called for a dynamic opposition in the new Legislative Assembly of Goa and redress peoples’ problems across the society
LATELY, it’s been a steady diet of politics and more politics in the wake of the BJP victory in the assembly election of 2022. Most everybody I know thought the Congress will make it to the hot seats this time but it was not to be – too much is at stake for the BJP in is grim march towards Bharatdesh! A lot of people think the assembly election was “engineered” (for example, the new working president of the Congress, Yuri Alemao, I think so too).
But it’s good to know that the Congress is making sweeping changes in its Goa’s set-up after its unexpected defeat in the assembly elections. Two observations were made by the genial, rational AICC Senior Observer R Chidambaram at the induction ceremony of the new representatives of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee. That 67% of the people did not vote for the BJP and 60% of the Indian population is below 60 years of age, India is going to be young for another decade or so!
The induction went off smoothly on Monday, April 11, 2022 at the salubrious venue of Green Acres at Tonca in Panaji. To reiterate, Mr Chidambaram observed 67% of Goans did not vote for the BJP because they were unhappy and wanted a change – but unfortunately it did not happen for reasons we well know now.
I must tell you I enjoy Congress gatherings better than BJP gatherings! For one thing there isn’t too much security around and there is none of the excessive grandstanding patriotic outbursts of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai!” which mark BJP gatherings…there was no national anthem either this time (and that I missed).
The latest Congress gathering was present in full force though in the presence of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo (and wife Delilah Lobo, winning MLA from Siolim) who in his address called for Congress people not to feel defeated but to strive for a dynamic Opposition in the new assembly house. He said the Congress needed a revival along block levels and he will make sure this happens. To which I may add that as long as there is an opposition, there is democracy, no opposition, no democracy. India is already generating into a banana republic!
FORMER GPCC president Girish Chodankar with his long innings with the Congress party had little to say but was all smiles as he handed over the party’s books of administration to the incoming new president Amit Patkar, and welcomed working president Yuri Alemao and district presidents for North and South Goa Viren Shirodkar and Savio d’Silva, respectively. It was a moment of poignancy to witness the old guard handing over charge to a new and much younger guard in Congress party in Goa but everyone was upbeat in the audience which included the large GPCC mahila wing led by Bina Naik, as also its vice-president Pramod Salgaokar who gave a vote of welcome and introduced the various “giant killers” of the new team now in charge of the grand old party of the Congress in Goa.
Several speakers endorsed P Chidambaram’s earlier observation that BJP may have lost again but please note only 33% of Goans voted for the BJP, which means 67% who did not vote for it actually wanted a change in government this time around. It was unfortunate that the splitting of Congress votes led to the defeat of the Congress with just 11 Congress candidates winning against the BJP’s 20.
Chidambaram added that it is time for the Congress to restructure itself anew to see how it can serve the people of Goa in opposition in the assembly house. He expressed his heartfelt pleasure with the Congress handing over charge and responsibility to a younger generation of leaders. It will serve the party well in the days to come. He didn’t forget to thank Goans for the warm hospitality he received everywhere he went during the Congress campaigning. Despite defeat he reminded all that it was the Congress which set the standards of development in Goa, it is this which is standing the BJP in good stead today.
An enthusiastic GPCC president, Amit Patkar, listed the causes for the defeat of the Congress in the assembly election (see box here which quotes from his speech), and promised that the party organisation will improve at block level and they would work closely with the legislative wing of the party, “We expect the leader of the Opposition to form a shadow cabinet allocating ministries to the team so that our MLAs get focussed for studied interventions and debates in the state assembly.” He reminded party members that panchayat elections are coming up as also the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Others who spoke included South Goa Member of Parliament Francisco Sardinha and Margao MLA, former chief minister and now special invitee of the AICC, Digambar Kamat, who assured the newly elected legislators of the Congress party that he is not going anywhere and will be right here to guide and mentor whoever approaches him. It was ditto sentiments for former GPCC president Girish Chodankar who to a query later said he was not going anywhere either, he continues to be a Congressman whose heart beats for party at all times and for Goa.
AICC incharge Dinesh Gundu Rao was all praise for the hard work put in by party’s workers for the assembly election. Also present on the dais were Alex Sequeira, Carlos Fereira, Sankalp Amonkar, Rudolf Fernandes, Altone D’Costa, Rajesh Phaldessai, Kedar Naik, AICC observer Prakash Rathod and Sunil Hanumanwar. Earlier some leaders offered floral tributes at framed photographs of familiar faces in Indian politics, namely Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Babasaheb Ambedkar, Jyotiba Phule and Rajiv Gandhi. There is no doubt that the Congress continues to be one large parivar anchored by Congress national chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
I took one last look at the mango trees loaded with green mangoes at the venue and decided not to hang around for the photo shoots . A pity the grounds were strewn with empty pet bottles! The Congress can surely set an example by being the most eco-friendly political party in Goa at least and win brownie points with the public at large?