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This article was first published 2 years ago  » News » 'We have defeated BJP's evil designs in Goa'

'We have defeated BJP's evil designs in Goa'

July 12, 2022 07:54 IST
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'There is no hard evidence, but our MLAs have been getting calls from industrialists and mining mafia in the state to quit the Congress and join the BJP.'

IMAGE: Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Amit Patkar submits the letter to disqualify Congress MLA Michael Lobo to Goa Assembly Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar, July 11, 2022. Photographs: Amit Patkar/Twitter

Alarm bells began ringing in the Goa Congress on the morning of July 10 when the party was confronted with the possibility of nine out of its 11 elected MLAs defecting from the Congress, forming a separate legislative party group and merging with the Bharatiya Janata Party became evident.

The Congress leadership in Goa, led by its newly appointed president Amit Patkar, and the party's central leadership in Delhi, which first sent its state in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao on the same day and General Secretary Mukul Wasnik on July 11, worked to quell the nascent rebellion in its ranks.

By late evening on July 11, in less than 36 hours, 10 of the 11 MLAs -- including the reported brain behind this defection drama Michael Lobo -- were back in its fold, even as the party kept the deliberations on to get back its senior-most leader and former chief minister Digambar Kamat back under the Congress umbrella.

Patkar, who along with Rao, played a key role in quelling the nascent revolt, tells Prasanna D Zore/ how, unlike 2019, the Congress succeeded in convincing its flock to stay together.

For how long, though, remains to be seen.

Is the Congress really serious about disqualification of its legislative party chief Michael Lobo and Digambar Kamat?

We have filed a disqualification plea against both of them (with the Speaker of the assembly Ramesh Tawadkar) on the basis that they have voluntarily given up their membership of the Congress party.

But Michael Lobo is on record saying he is still with the Congress.

The Supreme Court judgment of 2020 in the Shrimanth Balasaheb Patil case in Karnataka has upheld the decision that any anti-party activity is indirectly giving up one's membership voluntarily.

The Goa Congress has charged the BJP with engineering a split in the party/

There was a deliberate attempt to do this (engineer a split in the Goa Congress legislature party) and BJP was the master behind this drama pulling the strings from the background.

They have done it successfully in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka, tried their hand unsuccessfully in Rajasthan and more recently in Maharashtra.

So, here also they were trying their dirty tricks, but the Congress thwarted their evil designs with some deft strategy.

They have used money and muscle power extensively in Goa in 2019 (when 10 Congress MLAs defected and joined the BJP), 2021 (when many Congress MLAs switched sides to join the BJP, Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party) and now again in July 2022.

They should now know that the Goa Congress will not let them murder democracy here.

What kind of money are you talking about here?

The BJP has become adept at playing the money muscle game across India.

There is no hard evidence, but our MLAs have been getting calls from industrialists and mining mafia in the state to quit the Congress and join the BJP.

We have been levelling these charges only after talking to each and every MLA (the seven who were present at the Congress headquarters in Goa on Monday evening).

Yesterday (July 10), our Goa-desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Raoji was here and we had a one-on-one discussion with every (Congress) MLA (including Kamat and Lobo).

Mukul Wasnikji was also sent to Panaji and he is also closely monitoring it (the plan to wean back all the Congress MLAs who were reportedly planning to defect).

IMAGE: Nine out of the 11 Congress MLAs -- except Leader of the Opposition Michael Lobo and Digambar Kamat -- attended the Congress legislature party meeting at Congress House in Panaji with Congress General Secretary Mukul Wasnik, Congress Goa-desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao and Amit Patkar (sixth from left) on July 11, 2022.

How did you succeed in weaning away these 7 MLAs away from the BJP?

The BJP, the whole country knows by now, is quite adept at purchasing MLAs and destroying the democratic ethos of our country. They believe in no opposition.

They want a dictatorship in Goa and across India. They don't believe in healthy democracy.

In 2019 when 10 (Congress) MLAs defected and the BJP mastered it (their defections), the people of Goa showed the doors to seven of these MLAs by handing down defeats. Only three succeeded in winning their constituencies in 2022.

We emphasised (to the MLAs who were reportedly planning to defect) that by defeating the seven of the 10 (2019) defectors in 2022, the people of Goa have shown their utter dislike for this kind of electoral democracy (where MLAs win from one party and join another party to enjoy the perks of power).

Eight of the 11 Congress MLAs who won this year are first-time MLAs and yet they showed great maturity in understanding the electoral mandate handed down to us by the people of Goa.

More importantly, they are staunch believers in the Congress ideology and that's why they were given the tickets.

It didn't take us much time to convince them.

After all, they went to the people of their constituencies asking for votes as Congress candidates and people voted them to victory because they (the people) voted them as Congressmen who believed in the Congress' ideology.

Ultimately, they (the Congress MLAs) know that they have to go back to the same people and face them.

Goa is a very god-loving state and all the Congress MLAs had taken the oath of allegiance to the Congress ideology at the Mahalaxmi temple and our leadership just needed to remind them of their allegiance to the Congress ideology and allegiance to the people who voted for them.

They (the Congress MLAs) understand that the mandate of 67 per cent of Goa's electorate voted against the BJP and they (the people who voted for Congress, TMC, AAP and other regional parties who fought against the BJP) want to raise the voice of their voters and that is how it was easy for me to convince them.

How many Congress MLAs did you convince?

As of now (at 5 pm on July 11) there are seven out of the nine MLAs who were reportedly being lured to quit the party in Goa.

We are confident that another two (Delialah Lobo, the Siolim MLA and Michael Lobo's wife, and Kedar Naik) will come back soon. We are trying our level best. (By late evening 10 out of 11 Congress MLAs were back in the Congress camp; Digambar Kamat was still being weaned back to the Congress)

We have defeated the BJP's evil designs in Goa and this will set a good precedent. It's time to save democracy.

It's for the first time in our history that we (the Congress) took a drastic step to take action against our ex-chief minister (Digambar Kamat) and the sitting leader of the Congress legislature party (Michael Lobo).

It's a bold step that the party took and sent a message to the BJP that they can't murder the democratic will of the people without being challenged.

The BJP in Goa will now think twice before destabilising the Opposition and set up a dictatorial regime.

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