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'This is the BJP's political mafia raj at work'

By Prasanna D Zore
March 15, 2017 08:54 IST
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'What I mean by the BJP's political mafia raj is they descend in such a way that they want to form the government anyhow and murder democracy, no matter what.'
'Knowing Amit Shah, knowing Parrikar, knowing their style of working, they will engineer a split in the Congress.'

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar

Professor Prabhakar Timble is the president of the Goa Forward Party whose three MLAs went against his advice to support the Bharatiya Janata Party's coalition government in Goa.

In a no-holds-barred interview with's Prasanna D Zore, Professor Timble questions Goa Governor Mridula Sinha's decision to invite the BJP to form a government, exposes the Congress' role in ditching his party before the polls, and justifies why he resigned as president of a party whose primary reason for existence was defeating the BJP.

Why did you resign as president of the Goa Forward Party when all your party MLAs decided to support Manohar Parrikar's coalition government?

I resigned because I found the decision to go with the BJP abrupt and abrasive.

I also found it unprofessional because the mandate of the people is against the BJP.

Our campaign, from the day we formed the Goa Forward Party, was fought with the sole purpose of ousting the BJP from power.

So, our first choice should not be embracing the BJP or allowing it to come to power.

They (the BJP) have actually lost power in the state.

Finally, the BJP could cobble up the numbers -- and I didn't say it for the last two days and I am saying it now because I didn't want to thrash my colleagues with harsh words before their swearing in took place -- because this is the BJP's political mafia raj at work.

They descend upon you, they pressurise you so much, and the GFP, which fought the elections on the plank of Goenkarpon (Goan-ness), finally succumbed to it.

When your sole objective was to defeat the BJP, how can one justify the GFP's support to the same people who they wanted out of power in the state?

The fact is the Congress party ditched the GFP right from the beginning.

The day we formed the GFP, we staunchly said we wanted to dislodge the BJP from power and for that we wanted to have an alliance with the Congress.

Knowing that we were a new party, we knew we won't be able to reach out in all the constituencies.

What changed so much after the elections that all your party MLAs have gone with the BJP?

The Dhavalikar brothers -- Sudin and Dipak (of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party) -- have always been with the party in power. They have been doing it since the last 20 years.

What happened to your party MLAs? Were there promises of cabinet berths by the BJP?

To be very frank, I don't know.

We (the GFP and its MLAs) discussed the matter; the Congress had also engaged us in discussions, but the only thing that weighed against the Congress was they had ditched us before the elections.

They refused to ally with us although we begged with them for an alliance.

Then they put up a candidate against Vijai Sardesai in Fatorda violating all etiquette and understanding.

They put up a candidate against us in Saligaon and almost put up a candidate in Sivolim.

This proved they (the Congress) wanted us to fail because we were fighting against two BJP ministers and wanted to dislodge them.

First, you want us defeated and after the elections you come to seek our help.

Isn't it ironic that a party which wanted to defeat the BJP in 2017 before the elections is now allying with them in a coalition?

I found it totally unprofessional and so I resigned.

My argument was the BJP cannot be our first choice.

Finally, a government had to be formed and the Congress should have been our natural choice.

The GFP MLAs were also in two minds, but Vijai Sardesai took the lead and clinched the deal with the BJP.

I knew I should not lead and defend such decisions. I wanted to be out of this muck.

Goenkarpon is not just taking oath in Konkani. Goenkarpon is something more bigger than such symbolism.

What do you mean by the BJP's political mafia raj?

Whatever the BJP might say, the fact is they are gobbling up the MLAs.

According to me, once you got just 13 seats, you should have stayed out of power and allowed the other party to move first.

You (the BJP) should have staked a claim to form a government only after the Congress failure to do so.

Did the BJP lure your MLAs with the promise of cabinet berths?

To be honest, I don't take the inducement of cabinet berths as a big issue.

The Congress too would have done the same thing.

That is natural because as a party we will have to protect our interests and you cannot get our support if you don't protect our interests.

We can only take forward our agenda if our people get ministries.

What I mean by the BJP's political mafia raj is they descend in such a way that they want to form the government anyhow and murder democracy, no matter what.

The governor (Goa Governor Mridula Sinha) has no options once numbers are put forth before her.

Once the BJP musters the support of 21 MLAs in a 40-member assembly, the governor has to call them.

But just as the Election Commission of India follows a code of conduct before the elections, so that there is fairness and a level playing field for all political parties and contesting candidates, there should be some code of conduct for governors too.

The governor is not just a person sitting there with a mathematical calculator.

Once the governor knows that the single largest party has 17 MLAs, and once the governor knows that the ruling party has been defeated and the electorate has rejected the ruling party, and once the governor knows that the ruling party at the Centre also belongs to the BJP, the perception of the legislators -- Independents and others belonging to the regional parties -- is that somehow the BJP will always have an upper hand.

It is in these circumstances people begin to perceive the governor as an agent of the central government and then it becomes the Constitutional and ethical duty of the governor to call the single largest party first.

The governor should know that political loyalties and morals are flexible and since that is a bitter truth, the one who gets the call first (to form a government) gets an advantage.

Knowing that the BJP is in power at the Centre, to provide a level playing field, since the BJP is already rejected (in Goa), the governor should have called the single largest party, whoever it is, listened to them and earned their confidence and given them a fair chance to form the government.

But the governor did not do that at all. This is what I call the BJP's political mafia raj.

The BJP is playing the same game in Manipur and other states too.

Somehow they (the BJP legislators) will come first, they will come like eagles, swoop down upon you and gobble up the numbers (MLAs).

They will come in a charter flight and gobble you up.

People then feel that the governor is their person and so the governor should abide by a code of conduct.

In this particular case, the BJP had the numbers (getting three MLAs each from the MGP and GFP, and two Independents) but the governor should have still called the single largest party first; at least (the governor) should have had a discussion with them first to build confidence and provide some level playing field.

Would your party MLAs have supported the Congress in forming the next government, had the governor asked the Congress to explore the opportunity of forming the next Goa government?

I don't know, but had the governor asked the Congress first (to form a government) that would have given confidence to the newly elected legislators and Independent MLAs and probably why not we may (have joined the Congress).

Because that is also a factor weighing on in the minds of legislators. They know that the BJP is capable of bulldozing all the opponents with the help of the governor.

The governor should have created a confidence building exercise and given the first chance to the Congress. In case they had failed to muster the numbers, called in the BJP to do so.

If the ruling party had not been rejected, there would have been no issue at all.

The governor should be the guardian of democratic tradition.

The governor cannot sit there like an arithmetic teacher with a calculator in her hand.

How many years do you give this government? Will the Parrikar government last its full term?

Politically and strategically speaking, they should last up to 2019 when the next Lok Sabha elections will be due.

But the BJP will not keep quiet.

Knowing Amit Shah, knowing Parrikar, knowing their style of working, they will engineer a split in the Congress.

Finally, one must understand that the Congress MLAs are also hungry for power.

Parrikar told NDTV that he is not that kind of person, but admitted that Congress MLAs were sending messages to him.

If he were not that kind of a person, he should not have stepped into Goa in the first place to stake a claim to chief ministership with just 13 MLAs.

He could possibly do it because the BJP is in power at the Centre.

Can Parrikar answer if the BJP was not in power at the Centre, would he be in a position to gobble up Independents and MLAs from the MGP and GFP?

Parrikar that way is a professional liar, but people feel he is a Chanakya. You are leveraging your money and political muscle...

Are you saying there was inducement of power?

Cabinet berths are fine because the Congress too would have done the same thing.

Unless there are other factors involved (in the formation of a coalition government), I don't think decisions can be taken this fast. I don't have any proof of that though.

I was a part of the confabulations that went on when this decision was taken (by the GFP to support Parrikar) so I should have known it (if inducements were allegedly made).

Parrikar categorically stated in the NDTV interview that no money changed hands and the only condition put forth by the MGP and GFP was he should be the next chief minister...

That was Vijai Sardesai's opinion (that Parrikar should become Goa's CM), but that cannot be the opinion of the GFP.

Why just blame Vijai as the bad boy!

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Prasanna D Zore /