Last month, the Goa election results provided a lot of fodder for media nationally. Congress with 17 and just 4 short of majority, failed to form the Government while BJP with just 13, cobbled up the numbers. There were many reasons thrown about by the Congress leaders for this failure. Some said BJP had paid Rs 1000 crores to the smaller parties to gain support. While others within the Congress lashed out at the Congress itself.
Now, after one month has passed, the skeletons are tumbling out of the closet. Before we get into what has happened now, we need to refresh ourselves about the games which were played before the elections.
As we had explained here, the Goa Forward Party (GFP), which has now allied with BJP, was in fact keen on allying with Congress before the elections. Vijai Sardesai, the GFP’s supremo was an ex-congressman who had initially asked for a grand alliance in Goa against the BJP, but he had reportedly demanded far too many seats. This is why Congress did not take his proposals seriously.
This prompted GFP to declare that they would contest only on 4 seats, to prevent any division in non-BJP votes. In response, Digvijay Singh announced that a seat-adjustment formula had been struck between the Congress and GFP, where-in Congress would not field candidates in 3 of the 4 constituencies where GFP had fielded its candidates. These 3 included the prized seat of Fatorda, which Sardesai was contesting from.
That should have been the end of the matter, but on the last day of filing nominations, towards the closure of the process, Fatorda block Congress committee president filed his papers as a Congress candidate, blessed by papers signed by none other than Goa Congress President Luizinho Faleiro.
So there was now a Congress candidate against Sardesai, with whom Digvijay had announced a “seat-sharing” arrangement. In the end, the sham of seat-adjustment was shattered, and the same Digvijay Singh announced that the party would now support other candidates in the remaining 3 seats where they were supposed to back GFP. Sardesai too in the end backed an independent candidate in the constituency of state unit president Faleiro.
From the above, it appeared as if Faleiro had broken the “seat-sharing” alliance with GFP. And just a few days back, the same Digvijay who initially claimed that he had done no wrong in Goa, admitted that breaking the alliance was indeed a mistake:
Our mistake was not to go for a pre poll alliance with Goa Forward headed by Vijay Sardesai which was seen to be anti Parrikar and BJP.
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) April 20, 2017
This could have been an indirect salvo fired at Luizinho Faleiro since he was largely seen as the culprit. In fact even after the results, the only reason why GFP did not ally with Congress was that GFP wanted Faleiro removed as the state chief and as chief ministerial candidate, because he had back-stabbed them.
Now, Faleiro too has broken his silence. In an interview given to a local channel in Goa, Faleiro claimed that he was not to be blamed for the alliance being broken. He clarified that vice president of AICC Rahul Gandhi had ordered to field candidate in Saligao and Fatorda in the last minute.
He said that the Goa Congress had informed Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi in the Central Election Committee that the Goa Congress had candidates at all 40 seats, and the decision to go for an alliance was left to the central leaders. He further said that he was instructed by Digvijay Singh to have a seat-sharing arrangement in 4 seats, and hence initially, Goa Congress backed off from the four seats. But, he adds, later Rahul Gandhi, the Vice President of AICC spoke to him, and he merely followed his orders and broke the seat-adjustment pact.
He also stated that when the results were out, and the Congress was in pole position to form the Government, the state unit wanted to stake the claim for the Government. But, he claims, Digvijay Singh stopped him from approaching the Governor, in spite of having a letter ready. He said Digvijay Singh felt that the Governor should come to them, and they should not approach the Governor. He stated that Digvijay wanted to wait a bit so that they had 24 MLAs on their side. Faleiro then admitted that the Congress itself had erred in the entire process.
However, Digvijay Singh on his part has always defended his strategy and had earlier blamed ‘own leaders’ for sabotaging alliance with GFP. Most probably he meant the state leaders, but now with state president saying he was merely following Rahul Gandhi’s orders, will Digvijay Singh stick to his guns?