Wednesday, October, 27,2021

Will Mamata’s Goa gambit work?

She badly needed to win the Bhawanipur bypolls in order to remain the Chief Minister of West Bengal to reinforce her mammoth victory in the crucial Assembly elections in the state a few months ago.

She was given, perhaps, the toughest (collective) fight of her political life. The entire saffron brigade (nationwide) had trooped into the state and the star campaigners did whatever best they could do to woo the voters… but as they say… yeh public hain… . Nobody can, after all, read their mind.

On May 2, 2021, the winning margin, as some political analysts say, was not even expected by the Trinamool Congress honchos. TMC bettered their past record.

Post the Assembly elections, desertions and defections have been the order of the day. But all these would have been diluted if the captain had not won.

With her massive win against the rookie Priyanka Tibrewal of the BJP, Mamata now stands tall in the Opposition camp and can claim her stake of being among the main leaders for the Big Ticket Lok Sabha elections slated for 2024.

A confident TMC is now spreading its wings to Tripura, Assam and even Goa.

But did Didi do the right thing by roping in Luizinho Faleiro? Does he have the required clout left? Can he be a game changer? There are questions galore but replies…?

Even as the TMC is setting up camp in Goa, the state Congress unit had taunted “Trinamool means grassroots, Mamata has worked at the grassroots level and has come up.

But, where is the grassroots here (Goa)? This looks like a BJP strategy…of coming to Goa in chartered aircraft, offering bags to people, telling them that we will fund your election if you join us.”

It may be recalled that Mamata had mocked the BJP during the crucial Assembly elections in West Bengal by calling them “Bahiragoto” (outsiders) and now they are being termed as the same by Goan “grassroots” leaders.

The Congress in their tirade went on to say, “This is like trying to do what Mamata Didi alleged the BJP (of doing) in West Bengal, what they were doing to form government (before the West Bengal polls earlier this year), getting ministers, MLAs to defect, she is doing the same thing here.”

Meanwhile, the TMC seems to be extremely serious about putting up candidates in the state with an aim to expand its national presence. The party is aiming to make “gains” in Tripura and Goa to bolster Mamata’s stature as a national leader.

Faleiro, a veteran of four decades in the Congress and a seven-time MLA who still has a considerable influence in South Goa with a decent following among South Goan Christians had expressed his unhappiness with the Congress in Goa.

In political circles, there are murmurs that the astute Faleiro may be interested in a Rajya Sabha ticket from TMC and in turn, TMC may be banking on his past experience as the AICC general secretary in charge of the Northeast for its own political gains in Tripura.

Faleiro has been representing Navelim since 1980 and was elected from there for the first time on a Congress ticket. In 1984, he won in Navelim as an Independent candidate and went on to grab the seat in 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2002 on a Congress ticket!

Falerio’s importance and political relevance in his home state can be understood from the fact that the AICC appointed him chief of the 13-member Campaign Committee for Goa elections.

With his political acumen, Faleiro can be put to good use by the TMC to at least get them a “presence”. It may be recalled that he was also the Tripura campaign in-charge of the Congress party in 2019.

With the TMC planning to make its presence felt in Tripura (apart from Goa), Faleiro, in the long run, can prove to be useful for the TMC.

It may be recalled that this is not TMC’s first entry into Goa (politics). In 2012, former chief minister Wilfred de Souza was a huge catch for the TMC.

A look back into the past would reveal that since long (way back in 1963), regional parties have made their presence in Goa politics felt and some have done really well. The Maharashtra Gomantak Party and NCP to name a few.

The Aam Aadmi Party, however, did not have a good run in Goa so far. But in politics, as they say… patience and perseverance matter.
Faleiro’s joining TMC and thereafter a number of celebrities making a beeline for Didi’s camp will give enough boost for Didi’s grand plans to project her as a national leader to take on the mighty BJP.

As of now, TMC may have announced that it will not have any pre-poll alliance… but in politics there are no strange bedfellows and the battle is not over till it is fought.

The views expressed by the author are personaL

  • TMC
  • Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee
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