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Digambar’s pre-poll ally to dump Congress and go forward to merge with BJP?

by | Mar 19, 2022 | India

Has AICC Observer Rajani Patil rushed to Goa as BJP is on the verge of poaching Congress Ally Goa Forward whose alliance was the brainchild of former CM Digambar Kamat?

Delhi: Unconfirmed reports have it that the AICC sent senior observer Rajani Patil to Goa 72 hours earlier than scheduled “to assess the post-poll situation and suggest organisational changes in ‘Goa’ from MLA candidates and important leaders” on Friday. Seven newly-elected Congress MLAs met together for the first time over a grim development: pre-poll alliance partner Goa Forward Party was all set to merge with the BJP.  Former CM and Congress Legislative Party leader aspirant Digambar Kamat’s best-laid plans were coming apart. Kamat’s confidence in leading his party in the Assembly now lies in a shambles.

Congress’ ally in the recently concluded Goa Assembly Elections 2022, Goa Forward Party is merging itself with arch-rival BJP. The merger would give the BJP a simple majority and increase its tally to 21 seats, with the support of 2 MGP MLAs and 3 Independents.

The BJP leadership in Goa has a clear-cut mandate to do whatever it takes to ensure a victory in both parliamentary seats in the state in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. While former BJP minister-turned-Congressman Michael Lobo wresting four seats in the BJP’s traditional bastion Bardez has shaken the party, it is doing what it does best, coaxing, cajoling, buying, and intimidating smaller parties to merge or support it to add their vote share into its kitty.

Vijai Sardesai, the lone GFP MLA elected and that party’s supremo, had a few days ago attacked the pre-poll alliance between the GFP and the Congress as “half-hearted and unenthusiastic”. The signs of his disillusionment are a replay of the 2017 elections, when the GFP fought bitterly against BJP in the polls, but jumped in soon after to join the ruling NDA coalition.

 

The Digambar flop show

Vijai’s departure would be yet another flop show by former CM Digambar Kamat who was the senior-most Congress leader lobbying for the coalition at the party’s expense. Such was the fixation of Kamat with Vijai/GFP that he connived with GPCC President Girish Chodankar to keep the party organisation weak in Fatorda. The party witnessed unprecedented rebellion for this very reason in April 2021. Digambar and Vijai had allegedly entered into a secret agreement to contest Margao Municipal Council Elections without taking the Block Organisation into confidence. Even in 2017, Digambar along with then AICC in-charge Digvijaya Singh had ensured that no Congressman was fielded against Sardesai in Fatorda. A bunch of rebels forcibly even fielded a Congress candidate then but by then the Grand Old Party was not in a position to win. Digambar deliberately kept Goa Congress weak in Fatorda.

Congress insiders reveal that the Goa Forward alliance was a complete Digambar Kamat operation despite being stiffly resisted by former GPCC President Girish Chodankar and even dragged for long by AICC’s Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao. GFP debuted out of denial of tickets to two Congress favourites in 2017 who went on to contest on GFP tickets and won. However, this time around, GFP wanted to force a coalition on Congress with 12 seats. Congress resisted but gave in to Digambar’s pleading (as he feared sabotage of his victory in Margao from neighbouring Fatorda by GFP) agreeing to just 3 seats.

 

Sources reveal that Vijai has already made up his mind to merge with BJP, but made the task difficult for Congress by offering to merge with it first instead of Congress Legislature Party / Leader of the Opposition post which the majority partner played down. Interestingly, Digambar who was the champion of the Congress-GFP alliance is now playing truant and unable to salvage the situation.

 

On Friday even as desperate calls to contact Sardesai went unanswered, the Congress party empowered Digambar Kamat to set up a breakfast or luncheon meeting of the 11 Congress MLAs with their Alliance Partner to remind them of his pre-poll promise and even his word to them on March 11th – a day after the polls where he promised from the podium in a joint meeting that even if the alliance loses, he would sit in the Opposition with them. But then Vijai promised likewise in 2017 too and could not resist the lure of power and joined the BJP-ruled coalition. This time around he is cementing the relationship by merging his party with BJP for good.

 

But the biggest expose of this development is former CM Digambar Kamat himself. The man who ruled the last ‘stable’ Congress Govt between 2007-2012, oversaw the decimation of Congress from 16 to single digit 9 and wanted to keep the powers of this promised Congress Government by keeping the party weak to facilitate a coalition with Goa Forward will now have many explaining to do. The question is whether Congress will now trust this man?

 

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