‘Goa’s MLAs defect from parties often, makes governing state difficult’: Gadkari
Union Minister Nitin Gadkari compared Goa’s politics known for its party hopping to the ‘unstable marriages’ of the Western world as he lamented the desire of local politicians to constantly seek ‘greener pastures.’
Addressing a rally in state capital Panaji which goes to polls on May 19 to elect an MLA to replace former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar who passed away earlier this year, Gadkari admitted that the fickle nature of Goa’s politics made governing the state a challenge.
“Goa’s MLAs defect from parties so often here. It is probably influenced by the US where marriages do not last long. Like strolling in a garden they go here and there. To keep these people, who are constantly looking for greener pastures, in one place and run a government is difficult,” Gadkari said adding that Goa despite its cultured and intellectual population has broken national records with defections.
Gadkari who himself played a crucial role in bringing together a coalition despite the BJP winning only 13 seats in the 40 member Goa assembly, at the 2017 general assembly elections, also was at hand to ensure that the precarious coalition did not fall apart after chief minister Manohar Parrikar passed away.
After a decade of relative political stability between 2007 and 2017, Goa has seen four MLAs defect, all to the BJP with two MLAs each from the Congress and BJP’s one time ally the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party joining the BJP.
The opposition Congress has accused the ruling BJP of using money and muscle power to lure MLAs elected on an anti-BJP mandate into the party.
The BJP is facing a contest to retain the state capital which it has won continuously since 1994 as several factors have gone against it this time.
The BJP’s candidate -- Siddharth Kuncalienkar -- was an aide who Parrikar handpicked when he moved to Delhi to be the Union Defence Minister.
Under Parrikar’s guidance, Siddharth won the seat in 2015 and 2017 and his experience in fighting elections has helped Siddharth secure the BJP ticket at the cost of Parrikar’s elder son Utpal who was initially considered a frontrunner.
Political analysts reveal that Siddharth is not only up against Congress candidate Atanasio Monserrate -- a former minister popular among a section of the city’s Catholic population -- but also because Parrikar’s former mentor in the RSS Subhash Velingkar has entered the fray.
“Velingkar has huge respect among the BJP workers and will make deep inroads in the BJP vote share and damage the BJP,” Pandurang Gaonkar a journalist and political commentator observed.
Gadkari expressed disappointment that Velingkar was contesting but said that he has not lost respect for him.
“He is contesting this election to split BJP’s votes and help the Congress to win elections... I will only say that it is unfortunate. Even though he has quit the party, I still respect him,” Gadkari said.