Admitting Congress MLAs en masse may prove good or bad for the BJP
GOAN politicians’ addiction to Aya Ram, Gaya Ram brew seems incurable. Though they say they are there for public service, they are ready to bury their ideology any moment for personal power. Ministries and PSU chairs are what they run after. On Wednesday night ten Congress MLAs led by leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party. This is the fourth instance of MLAs elected on tickets of non-BJP parties joining the BJP in the current Assembly. The Congress, which emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats, suffered its first jolt when Vishwajit Rane crossed over to the BJP. He was rewarded with a ministry. Thereafter, two more Congress legislators, Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar quit the Congress to join the BJP. They are now BJP MLAs and suitably rewarded. The trend continued with two of the three Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLAs crossing over to BJP in a midnight switch, one of them being rewarded with deputy chief minister’s post. And then on July 10 two-thirds of the Congress legislature party merged into the BJP legislature party.
As Aya Rams and Gaya Rams do, both the Congress MLAs and the BJP flung away their small chests of morals into the sea. Among Congress MLAs who changed over to BJP is Atanasio Monserrate who only a couple of months ago had fought a bitter electoral battle with the BJP and won from Panaji on a Congress ticket. The BJP had portrayed Monserrate in the worst image – rapist and what not – during the campaign. Now he is an honourable member of BJP family! The Aya Ram, Gaya Ram politics has robbed the Congress 13 of its 18 MLAs and the MGP of two MLAs. The BJP has managed to raise its number from 13 in March 2017 to 27. Of the 27 BJP MLAs 18 had been in the Congress party at one time or another!
The reasons given for the switch by the Congress MLAs and for their acceptance by the BJP are weather-beaten clichés we have heard several times before. The MLAs say they have not changed sides for power, but for serving the people of their constituencies. According to them, as they are in Opposition they are not able to get development works carried out in their constituencies. The underlying presumption is totally anti-democratic and ridiculous. What their justification means is that the Opposition has no role in the development of the constituencies! If they were to be believed, the Opposition has no right to exist in the democracy, because it cannot do anything for the people. Their plea can be stretched to mean that all those who are elected as Opposition MLAs should immediately join the ruling party because only then can they get development works undertaken in their constituencies. There cannot be a more fallacious argument.
Similarly fallacious is the argument of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to justify the mass Congress switch to his party. He says he has done it to alleviate the ‘common man’s sufferings’. Where was the common man involved in the secret negotiations and deal being struck between the Congress MLAs and the BJP? The other reason he has given is that it would strengthen the hands of his government to protect Goenkarponn! We did not know that common man was suffering so much and Goenkarponn was so much under threat that the Chief Minister had to strike a deal with ten Congress MLAs to help him out!
The Congress is devastated. With just 5 MLAs it will have a much reduced presence in the Assembly. The party will also lose local workers to the deserting MLAs for reasons of personal loyalty and expectations of personal benefits using their offices as ministers or PSU chairs. However, there is a lot to think for the BJP too. The mass inclusion of Congress MLAs deprives BJP leaders in their constituencies of their political primacy. Sooner or later we will come to know whether having a majority of Congressmen in the BJP legislature party was good or bad for the BJP.