There are very few politicians in the country who are as smart as Sharad Pawar. A master of coalitions, Pawar allied with Congress in 1999 to form a government in Maharashtra just a few months after the failed coup attempt against Sonia Gandhi. In 2019 again, he pulled out a coalition with Shiv Sena to keep BJP out of power. Congress was forced to go with NCP despite the fact that the latter gained at the cost of the former because the grand old party wanted to keep BJP out of power.
Shard Pawar reduced Congress into a junior partner in the alliance in one stroke from senior ally position that it held from 1999 to 2014. Pawar is trying to pull the same trick in Goa, which will go into the Assembly Elections to be held in February 2022. NCP, which was practically irrelevant in Goa with only one seat in the Goa Legislative Assembly, has called for the revival of the state unit.
The party is currently in opposition with Congress which won 17 seats out of 40 but is reduced to 5 because 12 of its legislators joined BJP. Congress had the second-highest number of vote share with 28.4 per cent in the 2017 assembly election, and the party has been unrivalled opposition to BJP so far. However, the NCP buoyed by its success in the Maharashtra Assembly Election 2019 in which it increased its tally by 13 to reach 54 from 41, is looking to expand its base in Goa. And, it is so obvious that at whose expense it will gain in the tiny state.
NCP has made it very clear to Congress that it will not digest the seat-sharing based on its current strength. In fact, Praful Patel, who has been deployed by the party for the Goa Assembly Polls, said that the party is looking for non-Congress and non-BJP allies for the upcoming polls.
“I am sure the NCP along with like-minded parties without Congress or BJP will be in a position to build the trust of the people of Goa. NCP will work in every constituency in Goa and try to build the party in a formidable way. Certainly not with BJP or Congress as I said, last time, they (Congress) did not want to have an alliance with us. Now also they are making announcements that they will fight on their own. We will definitely not go with AAP,” he said.
Although it looks like a trick to force Congress and it is very unlikely that NCP will go into the polls alone, the party is trying to maximise the number of seats it gets to contest in the upcoming assembly elections. And slowly, the party will eat out Congress’s voter base in Goa, just like Maharashtra, ultimately reducing the grand old party to a junior partner.
For the Congress, the emerging regional satraps are more dangerous when compared to BJP because they dent the party’s vote base, and gain at its loss. While BJP’s voter base remains intact, Congress is losing it to regional parties like NCP, AIMIM, TMC, Communists, JMM, and the list goes on.