Splits, Defections and Colonization of Democracy

From day one of the constitution of the eighth Legislative Assembly of Goa, the Goa Congress Legislature party was in eclipse with all type of speculations about split and defection. In a way, it is good that the speculations have ended.  The threat of defection was a hanging sword and the daily stories were damaging the public confidence in the Congress as an effective opposition in the state assembly. Finally, the bomb exploded leaving a bruised and battered Congress party. 

Of course, the defection does not augur well for the future prospects of the party, more so because of earlier history of defections. The Congress will have to face the onslaught that it cannot keep its elected flock together. This has provided ammunition to the political outfits which are attempting to capture the opposition space such as Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Revolutionary Goans Party (RGP) to mock at the Congress.  However, it would be wrong to blame the party organization for the conduct of their MLAs. That way, the Congress MLAs who have defected consider themselves to be larger than the party. Rumors were rife that over two-third of the Congress MLAs would split as required for a merger to circumvent the provisions of the anti-defection law. Though a poor consolation, the Congress party somehow managed to retain its MLAs for it to be recognized and continue as the major opposition in the forty members House.  

The picture of the Congress defectors is still not clear. They are expected to join the BJP but will invite the wrath of the anti-defection law.  With a partisan Speaker as the adjudicator and knowing the judicial delays, the defectors could continue to be the members of the House. They have the option to resign and re-contest. This would fit in democratic conventions and propriety. They may plan for much ugly conduct by neither joining BJP nor resigning and  waiting to gobble up the required two-third strength or for the party to take disciplinary action to take the cover of “unattached” members.

The BJP today may look apparently stronger either with the newly gained numerical strength or with the damage inflicted on the principal opposition party. Whether this new fat accumulated by the BJP will make the ruling dispensation fit or will invite a backlash will be known with time.  The test would be the 2024 parliamentary elections. The pressures of redistributing the spoils of power would not be an easy task as this would mean unsettling the BJP MLAs from their current positions. The political accommodation of the new Congress entrants in the respective constituencies would also conflict with the political interests of the core BJP politicians and their workers. The power struggle within the BJP is an open secret. These invisible Hands within the ruling party could turn what looks as a blessing into a nuisance.

At the same time, the people are looking for an alternative to BJP in Goa. In the recently concluded general elections, the BJP vote share was 33% but garnered 20 seats due to the split of anti-BJP votes. There seems to be a vacuum in the opposition space. This is the space for young aspiring politicians to emerge as Goa’s future political leaders if prepared for work and sacrifices. The Congress party defectors seem to be in a tearing hurry for immediate power and cannot appreciate the writing on the wall. It was expected from the senior politicians in the Congress Legislature party to nurture and multiply this hope of the future in the electorate and in their new first-time MLAs. This was a legitimate expectation from the seasoned politician and former Chief Minister and equally from the Leader of the Opposition who sported high political ambitions. But, they turned out to be pygmies continuously sending fillers to their elected representatives to engineer a two-third split and merger.  The party organization too moved at a snail’s pace to rejuvenate itself and to irrigate the hope of the future in the workers and sympathizers of the Congress party. 

The Congress party has really a difficult task to revitalize itself. Going to the people in all the constituencies is the only way. It has to be accepted that the Congress party is out of political competition in around 14 of the 40 constituencies. This is because the party mortgaged itself to the local satraps.  It would be preposterous to talk of decimation of the Congress party due to defection by MLAs knowing that the former defectors from the Congress party were rejected by the electorate recently.  But, the party organization will have to be in super active mode and expand its political base in all constituencies. This has to be the continuous agenda and not just at the time of elections. This is also the time for all anti-BJP parties and political forces to join hands in meaningful collaboration if the topmost priority is to save the land, environment and economy of Goa.

The current drama of defections is difficult to fathom.  The BJP had the comfort of numbers to complete its full term.  The news floating is of monetary offers from coal and mining lobby and business magnates with interests in casinos, ports and real estate to further bloat the BJP and rattle the opposition. Whatever be the reasons, the tiny state of Goa is on the path of irreversible losses to its identity and environment. The faith of the people in democratic politics is getting shattered. A political gloom has descended on Goans due to the machinations of the BJP and the Congress defectors. They together have brought shame to Goa.  The intoxicated BJP was not prepared to listen to dissent and the voice of the people. Now, they will further bask in the glory of ridiculing the opposition.

Looking at the BJP onslaught on the political opposition throughout the country through the abuse of state power and use of money power, it is a pointer that the nation is being moved from democratization of politics to political colonization of democracy. This is a sorry state for Goa and the nation as a whole.

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