They are not willing to expose the BJP because skeletons will tumble out of their cupboards. Even the resounding defeat in the Assembly elections last year did not lead to analysis or introspection. They are not able to harvest anti-establishment feelings. The deficiency of the Congress is helping the BJP.

In fact, Parrikar has not been able to deliver on many of his grandiose promises. (According to the media, he has fulfilled only 10 of the 30 promises, but according to him, it is 14; that is 33 per cent which he says is very good for one year). Many attribute it to his government losing a vital revenue source when the Supreme Court stopped mining last October. The government admits the exchequer was poorer by Rs 800 crore (1 crore=1,00,00,000) last fiscal due to the mining stoppage. According to the Economic Survey, the closure resulted in the growth rate in economy dropping to 8.94 per cent in 2011-12 from a more or less constant rate of 10 per cent the previous three years. Many development projects including bridges that he had promised have not taken off the ground because of the lack of revenue collection.

Silence is deafening

Such a scenario ought to have been Godsend to lambast Parrikar. But as Independent Fatorda MLA, Vijai Sardesai, says "Congress' silence is deafening". He should know, because his has been the only opposition voice over the past year. Hamstrung by issues like revenue deficit, a climbing crime graph, the fact that the Regional Plan 2021 is still not in place (forcing civil society to become vocal about Goa being sold to the highest bidder and compromising the environment). And there is the huge irony  RP -2001 continues to guide the building mania because RP-2011 was flawed and therefore rescinded.

All these issues should have kick-started the Congress to wrest power from the BJP. But as one politician puts it, The big leaders have all disappeared and the Congress thrusts an unknown like Sudip Tamankar to be its spokesperson. Even Alex Sequiera, a former minister, fobbed this correspondent off after persistent attempts to call him. Valanka Alemao, claimed she had a busy schedule and promised to call back for a meeting but did not.

Even the Congress Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho appeared to be cheering the BJP from the sidelines while attacking his own party. Example: asked to make a prediction about the state budget, he said airily, "Out of the box thinking is going to guide it." Like they say with friends like that, who needs enemies!

Sardesai has an explanation for the current hibernation. "They are not willing to expose the BJP because skeletons will tumble out of their cupboards. Even the resounding defeat in the Assembly elections last year did not lead to analysis or introspection. They are not able to harvest anti-establishment feelings. The deficiency of the Congress is helping the BJP," he says. Congress, which had ruled the state for most of the years since Goa's liberation 51 years ago, was reduced to nine seats from 21 in the 40-member Assembly after the 2012 election.

No shows of strength

With the 2014 Lok Sabha poll about a year away, the Congress should have held meetings and had shows of strength to make the BJP nervous. On the contrary, while on the national stage, it is a party in disarray, in Goa, at least because of Parrikar and the Congress' hibernation its brand equity is stable if not rising.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's one-day visit here at the end of last December was an opportunity lost. A senior leader admitted, "There were charges and counter charges. Rahul Gandhi heard the leaders patiently, but nothing concrete came out of the nearly five-hour meeting." In fact soon after that meeting, Churchill Alemao, who lost, said I told Rahul Gandhi that it is because of Digambar Kamat (former CM) that the Congress has been defeated in the Assembly elections. There seems to be no acknowledgement from him his family including his brother Joaquim, his daughter Valanka and nephew Yuri got four tickets  and no accountability from the dynasties within the Congress who cornered 33 per cent of the tickets that that was one of the principal factors that disgusted voters into voting BJP. Even when Rahul Gandhi came here, Congress leaders were busy tattling about each other than chart out a course for the future.

State Congress president Subhash Shirodkar had said that Rahul Gandhi's visit here was to 'galvanise' the party. But galvanizing is what he apparently did to increase his wealth (he declared assets of Rs 4,81,41,934 and liabilities of Rs 2,27,25,194 in the last election). Soon after the mines closure, Parrikar had alleged that former CM Pratapsingh Rane, whose charge included the mines department, and former Urban Development minister Joaquim Alemao were involved in illegal mining activity.There are many Congress leaders who are involved in illegal mining. Subhash Shirodkar is involved in it. Former CM Digambar Kamat is also into it.

Shirodkar's bluster

Shirodkar recently was full of bluster even after being named in the government's affidavit to the Supreme Court about being involved in illegal mining. He was 'privileged' he said to be named in the affidavit, denying he was involved in illegal mining. "I was engaged in extraction (of iron ore) activity some time back. But I have all the bills to prove that my activity was legal, is his explanation. He said he had four trucks which he owns along with two partners, one of them his brother.  "If I am guilty, I should be punished," he said adding his association with the iron ore industry dated back to his childhood.

The second time Congress MLA from Curtorim, Aleixo Reginald Lourenco, is one other voice within the Congress which has been vocal. Representing a constituency that was affected when the mines were ordered closed  after the Shah Commission report quantified the loss through illegal mining at Rs 35,000 crores he accused Parrikar of playing politics. "Parrikar is not interested in starting legal mining soon which will help millions of people genuinely dependent on mining," he said.  While the big leaders in the Congress have chosen to adopt a low profile, it was Lourenco who spoke up for the national party recently.  Attacking the former BJP Fatorda MLA Damodar Naik, Lourenco reminded everyone that Naik had waved a list of 50 corruption cases in the Assembly against the then ruling Congress leaders. Now, one year into the BJP's reign, he asks why, "no action has been taken?"

Such spunk from Congress leaders has been few and far between. With the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for 2014, there appears no sign that it is shaking off this catatonia.