Tuesday 18 June 2024

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Politics | Assembly '99

Voter has a little choice


The Goan voter, disgusted with defection games for the last two terms since 1990, is left with a very little choice in the state Assembly elections, as nearly half of the main contestants in the fray are defectors.

The only party having smallest number of defectors as their candidate is the Bharatiya Janata Party. But their ‘fresh faces’ are totally alien to the electorate in several places though the party is still looked upon as the one having ‘clean’ candidates.

Among total 156 serious candidates in the fray including around 16 important independents, at least 66 are either having a history of defections in the past or are known as ‘habitual defectors’. In fact, around 13 among them have switched sides even before polls are held, to become candidates of other parties.

The Congress, as a part of their routine ritual, have expelled 25 Congressmen, who are contesting as rebels against the party candidates. But Luizinho Faleiro, the Goa PCC chief and aspirant for the chief minister’s post, refuses to assure that they would not be embraced for support, if elected, to form the Congress government in case of a hung Assembly.

The statistics of defectors comes out with startling disclosures, with the Congress having highest number of 21 defectors among 39 as their candidates. The Loutolim seat is already being won unopposed by Alex Sequeira of the Congress while the BJP has accused of their party candidate being ‘bought over’ there.

The Goa Rajiv Congress, created as a shelter for the defected Congressmen by its leader Dr Wilfred de Souza, has 11 defectors out of its total 14 candidates. De Souza, having been defected at least five times during his three-decade long political career, does not feel ashamed to admit that he is a loyal Congressman and would align with the Congress, if necessary, after the polls.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, considered to be the prime opposition since Congress started ruling here from 1980, has fielded 11 defectors, five of whom are the Congress rebels. "It is part of ‘rannaniti’ (battlefield strategy)", proudly says Prof Surendra Sirsat, the MGP chief.

The United Goans Democratic Party, having created its base among the few Catholic-dominated areas on the plank of anti-Congressism, has also fielded five defectors, all of whom are the ones denied tickets either by the Congress or the Goa Rajiv Congress.

The BJP is not saintly either. After getting elected two former Congressmen as their legislators in ’94 elections itself, the party also brought in yet another MGP aspirant this time, fielding him against their own partyman, Pandurang Raut, who had joined the Congress few months ago and is now the MGP candidate.

The 66 defectors include at least six former chief ministers, including Shashikala Kakodkar belonging to the MGP, de Souza of the GRC as well as Pratapsing Rane, Churchill Alemao, Ravi Naik and Luizinho Faleiro of the Congress. Alemao, de Souza and Naik among them had in fact defected only to capture the CM’s ‘valuable’ chair.

There are also 21 such former ministers, 10 of whom were the ministers in the recently dissolved Assembly and the rest in the seventh Assembly, since when jumbo cabinets became the necessity of defection games. There are also four more, who have history of defections and one of them, Sanjay Bandekar, was even disqualified by the Supreme Court in the past.

There are also 16 more candidates, who were the legislators in the past and 11 of them even ministers, who are now trying their luck by becoming candidate, no matter what party label they carry. Six of them are in fact independents, contesting as the Congress rebels.

Veteran among them is over 75-year old Deu Mandrekar, who has defected ten times till date and is presently contesting as independent, after the Republican Party of India refused to allot him the B form at last minute.

He defected four times in the last Assembly with a sole aim to become minister even when he was not in a condition to take oath, which was finally pronounced by his nephew, who was holding him on one side at one of such ‘routine’ swearing-in ceremonies

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