The long suspense over the induction of Nuvem MLA Aleixo Sequeira finally ended early Sunday morning when the official announcement came moments after PWD Minister Nilesh Cabral submitted his resignation. The political plan appears to be playing to a script, but it has left a trail of intriguing questions.
Cabral’s exit comes against the backdrop of a serious allegation of a PWD scam, a charge that stands as a blot on his definitive political career. The former PWD minister came out firing on all cylinders defending himself, and the interaction with the media was a sheer reflection of the anger within. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant may have given a healing touch with a clean chit to Cabral, but understandably that was not good enough to heal the scar left on being shown the door. Cabral’s comment on being requested and not “forced” to go and recalling the leadership of Manohar Parrikar while explaining that Sawant can’t be his role model, speaks volumes of the pain within.
The question however is over picking Cabral as the sacrificial lamb at the altar of “convenience” politics. The BJP finds in its ranks an assortment of politicos with taints, criminal cases and even ministers failing to deliver. To the contrary, the Curchorem MLA has been in the thick of things for his party, riding through some of the fiercest storms the government faced like linear projects, coastal plans and several environmental issues. On the Floor of the House, his rank and stature were a testimony as he rose to his feet taking on the Opposition on issues.
Even if one goes by the understanding that Cabral was the pick from the minority community, there is no justifiable reasoning since he holds a much better record politically, besides holding seniority in party ranks. If the party had to meet political obligations, Cabral, by no measure, could have been the choice.
Was Cabral picked for being a core party leader, as made out to be? The Curchorem MLA argues so, but there are few others equally committed, plus there were those living on the fence switching friendships and making themselves easy choices for such a trade-off. The move has come against the backdrop of a momentum building up in the State for Lok Sabha elections. “My resignation will benefit the party in some way”, was a tiny hint the outgoing minister threw. Could this be a strategic move in that direction?
The Chief Minister and Cabral are unanimous in saying that the party had commitments to honour and had to accommodate those defecting from the Congress. However, Sequeira was categoric that there was no commitment of ministership to switch sides and his priority was to look at the development of his constituency, again a mismatch.
The decision to sack Cabral is surprising, and it brings in a lot of improbabilities and throws in a web of uncertainty for those who found comfort in the saffron ecosystem, a situation that works to Sawant's advantage.
The underlying message that has gone from this Cabral ouster is that loyalty may not always be rewarded. Strange it may sound, but that's the stark reality in the current political maze. Goa’s politics has always been unpredictable and full of twists and turns, and this one will keep a bunch of other ministers guessing.