Local Goa News

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Growing mistrust between allies BJP & MGP

PANAJI: The friction between coalition partners Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) is all too evident. You can expect such utterances in the run-up to an important election - the Congress and NCP did that for years and yet stayed together - but the differences between two of the most natural allies have set alarm bells ringing.

MGP senior leader and Ponda MLA Lavoo Mamledar's statement that the party should be ready to contest on its own in the 2017 assembly polls, if need arises, and state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar's remark that MGP was indulging in double standards on the medium of instruction (MOI) issue brought to the fore the simmering mistrust between the two partners, political watchers say.
Reeling under Goa RSS chief and Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch (BBSM) senior leader Subhash Velingkar's attack for "fooling and cheating the electorate" on MoI, BJP had least expected MGP to jump on the BBSM bandwagon. At a public meeting organized by BBSM in Ponda, Velingkar asked MGP leaders to quit the government. In attendance was MGP president Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar besides local MLA Mamledar. The cheering crowd were up on its feet when Mamledar, a vocal critic of the state government largely due to BJP's step-motherly treatment towards MGP in Ponda, extended full support.
Tendulkar did not lose time in emphasising MGP's "double standards". In 2011, the BJP chief pointed out that MGP did not leave the Congress-led coalition government on pro-English MoI policy and are now instead lending a helping hand to the BBSM, who have hit the party hard and unfailingly targeted defence minister Manohar Parrikar.
MGP have remained unperturbed and Dhavalikar explained how just a few months after Congress floated the MoI policy, they joined hands with BJP and BBSM "to correct the wrong".
"Where is the double standard," asked Dhavalikar, who did not criticize BJP as he is part of the Laxmikant Parsekar-led cabinet. One party insider said that when Congress put out its MoI policy, it was the BJP who jumped on the BBSM bandwagon, sporting black t-shirts, supported filing of a petition in the court and galvanized support against the Congress "to preserve Indian culture".
"Who came with several dictionaries and other books to the assembly and quoted them to prove that the Congress' MoI policy had to be reversed," asked another MGP member.
The BJP, though, changed its stand while drafting its party election manifesto - saying it would look for an "amicable solution".
Why the BJP change its stance was not difficult to understand. "This was to placate the minorities," shot back Velingkar, turning the tables on BJP, who for decades accused the Congress of minority appeasement.
"The Parrikar government formed an expert committee to resolve the MoI imbroglio. Ignoring their views, Parrikar continued grants to the English-medium schools. People who have mastered the art of indulging in double speak and even somersault, are accusing others of double standards," fired another angry MGP member, a statement that is in consonance with BBSM.
Whether the BJP needs MGP more or whether MGP must count on BJP's support is debatable. But Tendulkar lost no time in pointing out how they had respect for their coalition partner: two MGP MLAs were made ministers even though the BJP had a simple majority of its own with 21 seats.
"The BJP did not do us any favour. It was an understanding prior to the 2012 elections. Even the PWD portfolio was promised to Sudin (Ramkrishna Dhavalikar) to woo the MGP away from Congress," said a party source.
The MoI is not the sole reason for the falling out of these two parties. Relieving Dhavalikar Jr of the cooperation portfolio in 2015 led to more bitterness. The cooperation portfolio, for many, would appear secondary, but it's a weapon to control the cooperative sector, which includes all cooperative banks and cooperative societies - farmers and fisheries cooperatives, among others.
The cooperation portfolio is now with industries minister Mahadev Naik, who represents the Shiroda constituency. With parties on the lookout for 'safe seats', Dhavalikar Jr seems to have has set his eyes on Shiroda and observers say this could be a bone of contention between the two when they discuss seat sharing.
The MGP cadre is not in favour of continuing with the alliance. Even the MGP working president - forget the public posturing and denials - seems inclined to go alone in the next assembly polls, at least as of now, sources say. The interest from several new supporters, including disillusioned BJP workers of the past, could simply strengthen their resolve.
There are several instances that have made the cadre oppose the alliance. One member said even in the 2012 polls, if BJP had to work wholeheartedly for the alliance candidate, MGP could have won six seats. "For example, when BJP lost the St Cruz seat narrowly in the previous election, then how could a MGP candidate lose in a triangular fight in the 2012 elections," asked a MGP leader, who added that it has been BJP Central leadership's strategy since early nineties to "finish" the MGP.
A senior 'Lion' leader said the BJP's alliance was restricted only to the legislative wing of the party. No member of MGP's Central committee was given any corporation chairmanship.
There have been widespread talks for almost all of the first three years within the BJP that they should break the alliance with MGP. But various factors including U-turns on major promises despite creation of infrastructure, dole-policy, and other populist schemes, have made the BJP do a rethink over the alliance for the 2017 polls.
Not surprising then that both parties are looking at each other with suspicion. BJP is aware that MGP has been gaining ground in hinterland talukas including Pernem, Mandrem, Bicholim, Mayem, Sakhali, Poriem, Cumbharjua and Quepem. BJP, on the other hand, has strengthened its base in constituencies represented by the coalition partner with Ponda being a perfect example.
MGP's senior leader and PWD minister Sudin Dhavalikar shares a close rapport with senior BJP leader and Union minister for ports and surface transport Nitin Gadkari, leaving him with a dilemma of his own. Both have made their affinity for each other known, but with Sudin nursing chief ministerial ambitions of his own, he might have an important decision to take. He is chief ministerial candidate for many politicos.
"All depends on what Dhavalikar senior decides on the alliance," said a Central committee member. Dhavalikar expressed confidence that the alliance would continue for 2017 polls.
Not just Sudin, the party too, is now at the crossroads. For those unaware, BJP first won four seats to the assembly in 1994 because it rode piggyback on the MGP. In the next assembly polls (1999), BJP broke the alliance at the eleventh hour and left MGP in the lurch.
"We didn't have candidates to contest in 1999 after BJP broke the alliance," recalled Mamledar.
This time around, the MGP seems to be preparing for any eventuality

TOI Goa News

No comments:

Post a Comment