Panaji: Jolted with 'defection politics' from its own fold, Congress has pushed itself in a survival mode in Goa while on the other hand new entrants like Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are trying to strengthen their base.
In 2017, Congress was the largest party in the Goa Assembly elections with 17 MLAs, however it couldn't form the government. This forced its MLAs to leave the party and join the ruling BJP. Initially, three of its MLAs resigned and contested on the BJP tickets thereby finding place in the ruling set up after getting elected. This encouraged other ten MLAs who also walked out (more than two-third) to join the BJP on July 10, 2019.
Finding the Congress on the downslide, parties like the AAP and TMC decided to fill in the opposition space. 'A vote to Congress means a vote to BJP' -- this has been the slogan that both the new entrant parties have been highlighting.
The threat of defections from the Congress continues even today. On July 10, an intervention of senior leaders of the Congress helped prevent what seemed a likely defection by its two-third MLAs to join the BJP.
Congress in-charge of Goa, Dinesh Gundu Rao swung into action and decided to file disqualification petitions against Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and Margao MLA Digambar Kamat alleging that both were involved in anti-party activities (persuading other MLAs to join BJP).
"The BJP was trying for a two-third split in Congress, so minimum 8 MLAs could leave the party," Rao had said while attacking the BJP for allegedly offering money to the MLAs to split.
Though this political drama has been temporarily defused, there is every possibility that those in rebellion mood may join the BJP any time in future. This has invited wrath from non-BJP voters in the state.
With a vibrant campaign and promising the people that henceforth their MLAs will not defect, for which candidates had pledged before God, the Congress had managed to win 11 seats in the 2022 Assembly election. However, the party has again started to lose the faith of the public due to recent 'unsuccessful' defection event.
Trinamool Congress' Goa in-charge Kirti Azad speaking to IANS said that they don't have to take anybody's place, but they will be in power in near future in Goa.
"We contested for the first time in Goa and secured 8.7 per cent votes. People are automatically coming to TMC, the Congress is losing its base. We had told the people before the election that we are a party to be trusted, because there are musical chairs going on between the BJP and Congress. Congress is more versed in the game of this musical chair. Now I am sure that the people are repenting that they didn't give us the chance," Azad said.
"I have respect for the grand old Congress party, but they have to realise that they have to go to the grassroots. You can't be dependent on individuals who jump ships," he said.
Aam Aadmi Party Goa Unit President Adv. Amit Palekar said that they knew that the defection threat will continue in the Congress. "This was supposed to happen, we were telling this before the elections. It has been avoided for some time, but it is bound to happen again," Palekar said.
"If the Congress was confident (that MLAs are united) then they should have withdrawn the disqualification petition. They still have doubts that their MLAs will defect," Palekar said.
He said that the AAP was highlighting major issues of Goa. "We are looking to be in power in the future. We will not try to capture anybody's place, but we will create our own space wherever it is required," he said.
"We are trying to attract all Goans, we are hoping to be in power," he said.
The AAP has two MLAs in the Goa Assembly. However, despite an energetic campaign TMC couldn't win a single seat in the 2022 Assembly election.—IANS