Thursday 30 March 2023

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed


Goa gone with 'Money-Pur'


The Congress has done it in the past, now the BJP is just as adroit at playing the 'Aya Ram, Gaya ram' game (or in Goa in the past described as 'aya D'souza, Gaya D'souza!), says RAJDEEP SARDESAI.

So, the BJP is set to form the government in Manipur and Goa, adding two more states to its kitty. In both states the pattern is disturbingly similar: a hung assembly where the Congress is the single largest party but just short of a majority, the BJP is a relatively distant second (but with a higher vote share), and smaller parties hold the key to government formation. In both states, the governors are elderly BJP leaders enjoying the sinecure of a Raj Bhavan and in both states, frankly, the BJP has moved faster and with greater desire than the Congress to capture power.

In a tweet I described the speed with which the BJP moved as a sign of the party's 'hunger' for power. It's a 'dil maange more' avaricious mindset that has led the BJP to try and gobble up one state government after another. When I tweeted this, I was accused by a Congress spokesperson of justifying 'horse-trading' and the failure of the governor to invite the single largest party to form a government. Wrong I say on both counts. I wasn't justifying horse trading at all or making it seem virtuous: the fact is, in small state assemblies in particular, 'jod-tod' is a dark, but inescapable part of the political landscape. The Congress has done it in the past, now the BJP is just as adroit at playing the 'Aya Ram, Gaya ram' game (or in Goa in the past described as 'aya D'souza, Gaya D'souza!). Unless the political culture changes and ethical behaviour is rewarded by voters, the temptation will always be there to make or break governments by switching sides. Moreover, there is nothing in the constitution that mandates that only the single largest party must be invited to form a government; the principle now very clearly is to invite the party which can offer the possibility of a 'stable' government.

Truth is, in both states, the smaller parties and independents have chosen the BJP over the Congress, largely because a Narendra Modi led BJP is a more viable political brand across the country. Truth also is that the ruling party at the centre has a greater chance to woo smaller parties with various inducements. Why should a four MLA Naga party for example side with a three time Congress chief minister like Ibobi Singh who they accuse of marginalising them when they could easily cut a deal with the Centre? Ditto with the smaller parties and independents in Goa. Truth again is, money power does play a major role in such dealings and the BJP is arguably the most cash rich party in the country at the moment much like the Congress was in its pomp.

My own belief therefore is that both the major parties should get off their moral perch. The BJP can no longer call itself a party with a difference. It has openly encouraged defections in Uttarakhand from the Congress, it has swallowed up the Congress in Arunachal and now threatens to do the same in Manipur. In Goa too, it has pushed to form a government even after its sitting chief minister and several ministers were defeated. That it has agreed to 'sacrifice' and send back its union defence minister for government formation is a sign of its willingness to go the extra mile, and perhaps even its desperation not to lose out in the power game. The 'saam daam' rajneeti is now just as much a part of the BJP's DNA as it has been of the Congress in the past. Let not Mr Modi or Amit Shah kid us that the BJP is pure like 'Maa Ganga': the pollution of power has affected it too. At the same time, politics is not a 'ashram' for saints: the relentless pursuit of power is at the core of politics. Morality is for tv studio discussions, not for the real world of rajneeti.

While the BJP ponders over its moral corrosion, the Congress needs to take a hard look at another stark fact: the kingmakers in both states are, ironically, former Congressmen. In Manipur (also referred to as 'Money-pur' in these unstable times), it is the BJP's north-east 'hitman' Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma who has been organising the BJP's strategy along with party general secretary Ram Madhav while in Goa, it is Vijai Sardesai, who has emerged as the key player. BIswa Sarma was once the right hand man of Assam Congress strongman, Tarun Gogol, but left the party after he found himself being sidelined by the decision to promote Gogoi's son Gaurav, in another typical example of dynastical raj. Sarma has also claimed that he when he tried to meet Rahul Gandhi, he found that the Congress Vice President spent more time feeding biscuits to his pet dogs. Sardesai claims to have been similarly 'humiliated': ahead of the Goa elections, he wanted to align his Goa Forward party with the Congress but was reportedly kept waiting endlessly and eventually rejected. Both Sarma and Sardesai are talented gen-next leaders, both politicians with the political nous and drive that is sorely lacking in the Congress. A Congress of an earlier era would have embraced a Sarma or a Sardesai as their future but a 'high command' led feudal party which is comatose has little space for those who wear their ambitions on their sleeve.

On the flip side, both Sarma and Sardesai can also be labelled as rank opportunists. Both were once firm critics of the BJP: Sardesai once described the BJP as a party of 'narkasurs' and the man who will be his chief minister now, Manohar Parikkar was his prime target. But that is now in the past and in politics, the past is always dispensable. To quote Chanakya: 'there is some self interest behind every friendship. There is no friendship without self-interest. That is the bitter truth." It's a truth Goans and Manipuris are coming to terms with.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Goans are very Smart that they rejected AAP and voted Congress & BJP.

Congress-17 Seats & BJP-13 Seats = Total 30 Seats.

Goans does not need honest AAP.

Jack De Goan |

Even after being elected single largest party in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkand , the BJP is yet to select their Chief minister till today as on 17/03/2017. Hats off to the Governor of Goa , to allow to form BJP government in Goa, when the sitting CM was defeated and packing home 27 MLA out of 40 MLA supported by BJP.

elias |

Do you have proof of "Money" being used.. or just hinting that it might have been used... So much for Journalists whose main job is to bring facts to the people and not individual views and blame without any proof.

Patty Almeida |

Does loss of an incumbent CM mean a rejection of that party? Well, if that be so, Amarinder Singh too has lost in Punjab (to the Senior Badal). Agreed, he has won in the other but if you consider his score as 1-1, does it mean he needs to contest again to be declared CM? We don't elect CMs & ministers my dear, we elect legislators.

To your second point about money exchanging hands, may I know whether you have any proof of that? Or is it another case of shooting from the hips (err... lips in your case).

Rank opportunists, party hopping, etc etc!!! Coming from you? A man who has journeyed from NDTV to CNN-IBN to INDIA TODAY. Phew! I need to take a break.

Vivek G. Prabhudesai |

Is there anything new in anything you said here? Every person on the streets of Goa is saying the same thing you are saying above.

Abdul Mia |

Blogger's Profile


Rajdeep Sardesai

One of India’s most respected journalists, Rajdeep Sardesai, has nearly three decades of journalistic experience in print and tv. He has been the founder- editor of chief of IBN 18 network, which included CNN IBN. Prior to setting up the IBN network, he was the managing editor of NDTV 24 x 7 and NDTV India. Rajdeep has won more than 100 national and international awards for journalism, including the Padma Shri in 2008. He is currently consulting editor at the India Today group.


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