It’s one thing for BJP karyakartas/MPs to chorus “Jai Shree Ram”, as a taunt, but Goa has been witness to Catholic MLAs carrying appeasement of their new masters to limits that would make the average Catholic cringe. Vjiai who was stunned at having the rug pulled by CM Sawant, has withdrawn his 3GFP MLAs and is whining about how Sawant has gone against Parrikar’s “legacy”. Parrikar had shown how to cling onto power no matter what, only Sawant has done it more forcefully

July 16, 2019

Lion Roars

Lionel Messias

Congress President Rahul Gandhi was slammed for his “temple run” by the BJP although, one would think that considering it is a Hindutva party, one would have thought his actions would be heartily approved by a party which claims to represent Hindus. But it is clear that they are just trying to co-opt the Hindu religion only for politics. And it is more clear in Goa now that the BJP has broken the same party, which it had vile contempt for, and thinks it is sitting pretty because it’s got more Catholic MLAs in its ranks than Hindu MLAs out of its total of 27 MLAs (7 out of the 40 back in 2017 after the assembly elections, then one after the four by-elections in May this year and now 8 of the 10 Congress MLAs who crossed over on July 10).

It’s one thing for BJP karyakartas/MPs (in Parliament during the oath-taking) to chorus “Jai Shree Ram”, not with devotion to Ram but as a taunt, but Goa has been witness to Catholic MLAs carrying appeasement of their new masters to limits that would make the average Catholic cringe. Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate, the MLA representing Panjim from the Congress who defeated the BJP’s Sidharth Kuncolienkar, has switched sides (for the nth time) and is flaunting his Hindu credentials. Pictures of him doing the rounds on social media has him wearing a tikka and participating in a puja and that has brought up questions of whether he discarded his politics along with the religion he was born into. And more to the point, does the BJP want to put a stamp of Hindu approval and if so why did Babush have to buckle. Last I checked, India was a secular country.

A couple of years ago, Mauvin Godinho, the MLA from Dabolim, showed the way after a temple run that saw him wearing a ‘kachi dhoti’ in saffron, no less. You can have differences with your party, and Mauvin let it hang out for months before he switched from the Congress to the BJP, but this?

Brings to mind the oft-repeated phrase during the 1975 Emergency about "when they were asked to bend, journalists crawled".

BJP weaponised itself against Vijai

Back on May 21, GS had written that “Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardessai (now former) might have to “weaponise” himself now that the BJP’s strength has gone up by three”. It appears that before that BJP weaponised itself and booted him out of the cabinet, and left with no choice. Vjiai who was stunned at having the rug pulled from under him by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, has withdrawn his three Goa Forward Party MLAs and has been whining about how the CM has gone against former CM’s Manohar Parrikar’s “legacy”.

What legacy?

In fact the word “legacy” has been a misnomer for what the BJP has done in Goa, starting with manipulating itself into a position to form the government when it was the Congress that won as the single largest party. Then post-Parrikar, Sawant lured two MGP MLAs and now ten Congress MLAs. So basically, Parrikar had shown the way how to cling onto power no matter what, and Sawant has done it more forcefully. He would win the Bharat Ratna if it was given by Modi on how to make narrow and vested interests win no matter what the cost.

In fact, Sawant has been slowly but surely shrugging of Parrikar’s long shadow. Which is not bad in itself, because most incumbents do not come into their own unless they stamp their own mark. But Sawant, on the first day in office, came with a framed photograph of Parrikar and placed it in a chair alongside. BJP Karyakartas applauded that Sawant was emulating an episode from the great epic where King Bharata placed Lord Rama’s ‘padukas’ (wooden footwear) on the throne when his elder brother was banished from Ayodhya. The message was that he would carry on where Parrikar left off and would revere him.

But his tear jerker approach notwithstanding, what he has done is trying to kick Parrikar from the pedestal. Starting with not giving the Panaji ticket to Parrikar’s son Utpal during the by-elections when it’s an accepted tradition that a family member is given the ticket when the patriarch dies, then transferring an officer who had worked with Parrikar for 10 years and the latest is tinkering with the strength of the BJP government when even insiders emphasise it was secure and did not need a merger with Congress MLAs.

As Utpal said, “Bhai (Parrikar) had given a commitment to MGP and Vijai Sardesai, both of whom stood by him even during his illness and ensured a stable government. Bhai’s way forward ..directions… ended on March 17 with his death. This is a new road or direction that the new leadership has taken. We will have to wait and see how the party’s old and loyal ‘karyakartas’ react to this.”

Well, the verdict is they are not happy, not because their so-called ideology has been diluted but because the line for spoils of office has become longer and their number might never come.  That is what has happened in Telangana where CM K Chandrashekar Rao in a BJP-esque manoeuvre has been inviting Congress, Telugu Desam Party, any Tom,Dick and Harry to come into the Telangana Rashtra Samiti causing his cadre to simmer and boil!