Losing the Post-Electoral Battle
Three years of disappointing mandate from the people has failed to teach the Indian National Congress, the need for revisiting its structural dynamics in the political game. When for the first time in a considerably long period, it won Punjab decisively along with moderate leads in Manipur and Goa, it still lost the post-electoral battle to the BJP in the latter cases.
Where it all started
The story started with defection of several Congress MLAs such as Mauvin Godinho, Pandurang Madkaikarm, Bicholim Pravin Zantye and several other reputable party leaders to BJP, nearly a month ago before the Goa Assembly Elections. Censured by the Congress and other opposition parties for roping in defectors, the BJP had a tough time explaining the media and the existential assembly then, about its actions.
Flash forward to the result day, we see the BJP loosing its lead to Congress by over 8 seats. Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and several other ministers in the state government of the BJP badly lost to other opposition party candidates. It was testimony to the fact that people needed change, either an old comeback or a fresh one. With the Congress having a plush 17 seats, which are four short of the majority (21 of 40) needed, the only way BJP could have pulled out a warranted victory purely in terms of the rulebook, was forming steadfast coalition.
Smaller parties like the MGP (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) and the GFP (Goa Forward Party), who won three seats each along with two independents were then wooed as political coalition partners. Finding themselves in quandary, they were de facto kingmakers on the basis of whom they chose to lend support to. Amidst this alliance conundrum, the only respite for BJP lied in one demand only. Both MGP and GFP sought the return of then incumbent defence minister, Manohar Parrikar. Without any moment of delay, Nitin Gadkari and Amit Shah along with Parrikar himself set for Goa and initiated talks with leaders of these political factions. Whilst the Congress indulged in indecorous bickering, with 5-6 party leaders staking their claim to the CM’s chair, BJP discreetly yet tactically took swift decisions and negotiated firm agreements for coalition. Congress Vice-President, Rahul Gandhi, known for being present at the wrong places at the right point of time, was nowhere to be seen, when he should have spearheaded negotiations and curbed in fighting. Blaming Digvijay Singh, party-in-charge for Congress in Goa, prominent Congress leaders like Vishwajit P Rane, former leader of opposition in the outgoing Goa Assembly, critiqued the mismanagement of the leadership. He asserted that the people had handled over the baton to Congress this time but the opportunity dissolved in thin air due to the “foolishness of party leaders”.
When Goa Governor Mridula Sinha extended an invite to BJP to form the government, an irked Congress reached the Supreme Court (SC) doors to stop Parrikar, who stepped down as the Defence Minister to lead the Goa BJP front. They contended that they had the mandate of people as a supporting basis, so they should have received an extension of invite to form the government first. After hearing both sides, the SC came to a conclusion, which allowed the continuance of the Oath-taking ceremony of Manohar Parrikar as Goa Chief Minister with a sidelined request to the Governor to hold a floor-test at 11 AM on 16 March. What is to be seen is the outcome of the floor test, that would answer all questions.
Opportunity : A faraway island for Congress
There has been a lot of incessant howling by Congress over unethical politics and crying over foul game. Any pivotal political player would have taken advantage over if it sees opportunity, waiting to be grasped. Like it is popularly said, ““Life is like an 6-slice apple pie at a 12-guest dinner banquet. If you just sit back and wait for it to come to you, chances are, you’re going to miss dessert.” Congress just missed dessert.