Ridden by chronic in-fighting and corruption, the Congress in Goa is threatening to dish out more drama than the popular, slapstick Konkani 'tiatr' (theatre), after its outgoing president accused his successor of being a puppet, propped up by tainted party veterans in league with the BJP.
While internal rifts between the party leadership had sparked fears of an implosion, a sudden feud between outgoing president John Fernandes and the new appointee Luizinho Faleiro is taking the shape of a mega battle, if utterances by them this week are any indication.
Appointed at the instance of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi 10 months ago, Fernandes claimed that he was dethroned because he was getting under the skin of the corrupt leaders in the Goa Congress.
"Allies of (Chief Minister Manohar) Parrikar in the Congress were employed to hasten my removal. There is enough circumstantial evidence that Parrikar colluded with corrupt Congressmen to take control," Fernandes told IANS.
Fernandes also said the nine-member Congress legislative party (CLP) led by opposition leader Pratapsing Rane was already in the chief minister's pocket.
"The CLP is a floating company of the BJP. Now with Faleiro's appointment, the Pradesh Committee will also be on its way to becoming another company. I, as ex-president, will not let it happen," Fernandes thundered.
Fernandes, at his exit press conference, also made a serious charge against Faleiro, who until his Goa appointment was the Congress general secretary in charge of the seven northeastern states.
Quoting media reports in the past, Fernandes said the Goa government had dropped a forgery case against Faleiro's wife Rachel vis-a-vis deletion of names of tenants residing on the picturesque island of Zuzmobor, off Goa, purchased by the Faleiros some time back, alleging there was a quid pro quo between the new Congress appointee and the BJP.
Faleiro has rejected the allegations outright but has refused for now to join the slanging match with Fernandes.
"This is one thing I have learnt from (Congress president Sonia) Gandhi. Politics of mudslinging, of vendetta, of vengeance is one thing I will not like to do," Faleiro said earlier this week.
Asked if he would meet Fernandes in the light of the allegations made by him, Faleiro said with a boisterous laugh: "He is a Congressman. I will invite him. I would like to find out what he has said."
In a press statement issued by party spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar late Thursday, the Congress rejected the accusations by Fernandes and condemned his comments.
Faleiro, however, said it was time for Congress leaders in Goa to introspect why the party had fallen from favour and that his appointment was an "eloquent testimony of our failure to produce young dynamic leaders in the state of Goa".
"I don't want to cast aspersions on my predecessors, but my job is very, very clear.
"I have got an agenda; I have a road map. It is to bring unity in the party. Bring discipline to the party. Strengthen and consolidate the organization and number four to have a very intense membership drive," Faleiro said.