New Delhi: The Congress in Goa is going through such a rough patch that leaders are now totally uncertain about the prospects of the party in the upcoming Assembly elections. Sources told The Sunday Guardian that things have come to such a pass that many leaders are mulling if they should continue to be with the Congress, at the cost of their political careers.
The erosion of the Congress base is manifested in the way the Congress has been losing its MLAs. It had five MLAs in the Goa Legislative Assembly until September this year, and now it is left with only two. Lest we forget, it had 17 MLAs in 2017 and was the single largest party in 2017 in an Assembly of 40. The BJP, with 13 seats, cobbled together a coalition government in 2017. And then in 2019, Congress lost 12 MLAs to the BJP. And then this year, the desertion spree started after Goa Congress general secretary, Vijai Pai and secretary Mario Pinto called a press conference, complaining that nobody in the party (Congress) knew who was making decisions. After this both leaders switched to Trinamool Congress, following Congress MLA Luizenho Faleiro’s exit, leaving the party with four MLAs.
The grand old party while shedding its old guard has allowed the TMC to get a foothold in Goa, further expediting the loss of known faces, who see better prospects even in TMC, which is looking for some national relevance.
Then on 8 December, MLA Ravi Naik joined the BJP which was seen as an expected switch as his sons had already joined the BJP in 2020. This brought the Congress’ tally of MLAs down to 3. This also started rumours of one of the remaining three MLAs, Pratapsingh Rane, joining the BJP. Rane denied this and said that he was going to continue in the Congress.
On Monday this week, the third Congress MLA, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco resigned from Congress, bringing down the tally of the party’s MLAs to 2. The change in Congress fortunes from once ruling the state to having two MLAs tells the dismal story of lack of coordination among leaders and unresolved hurdles in organisation building. Out of the three MLAs leaving the Congress since September, two have switched to TMC.
Joel Andrade, a corporator in the city Panjim and the Panaji block president of the Congress in Goa, told The Sunday Guardian: “Reginaldo had been an MLA of the Congress for over a decade and it is definitely a loss for the party. The Curtorim constituency has been a Congress bastion and we are confident of retaining the seat. Our South MP Sardinha has been an MLA from this constituency for a very long time and under his guidance, we will win the Curtorim seat with a thumping majority.”
The remaining two MLAs of the party are Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat who have withstood the exodus and are ready to fight the coming elections as the only old guard left in the party.
A senior journalist who has covered the Congress for 30 years in the region called the defecting MLAs as “the natural gift from the Congress”. He further added that the party had imported MLAs in the past from opposition parties and now it is tasting its own medicine with other parties importing its MLAs.
And now Congress workers and grassroots leaders are also leaving the party, putting a huge question mark on the future of the party in Goa.