Finally, Congress leaders from Goa managed to get an audience before the High Command in Delhi as Rahul Gandhi had one-on-one sessions and heard individual concerns over leadership while also discussing party prospects vis-a-vis the forthcoming assembly election. A photo-op showing the visiting Goa Congress leaders along with Gandhi provided the optics by portraying party unity, but the bigger question is whether this is actually a ‘unity’ picture.
For a moment it appeared that differences were buried when Luizinho Faleiro, Francisco Sardinha, Aleixo Reginaldo, Ramakant Khalap, Digambar Kamat and Girish Chodankar stood in the frame along with Gandhi. However, even after the meeting, the larger picture continues to be hazy without a clear resolution on the presidentship issue. Gandhi has managed only a temporary truce, nothing else, and all the talk about election strategies was a smokescreen.
AICC General Secretary and the head of Goa desk, Dinesh Gundu Rao was quick to inform that Gandhi told Goa Congress leaders to work unitedly and to promote young and new faces with an aim of defeating the forces in Goa. Rao briefly explains that the meeting discussed the political situation in the State along with strategies to ensure the party’s victory. What Rao doesn’t reveal is about the leadership, for which warring players were summoned to Delhi.
The pitfall of Congress high command has been its indecisiveness, a trait which has cost them dearly in the past. Let’s not forget the 2017 elections. The incumbent in Girish has resigned voluntarily twice, and yet the high command has failed to address a key party issue and allowed it to fester causing further split in ranks. Whether it’s the same formula or another face, it is the high command which has to take a clear call.
Goa is moving fast towards elections and parties have already warmed up to the big fight. There are central leaders descending while local leaders are frequently air-dashing to the capital to meet respective high commands. Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking time off from his schedule to attend to party and State issues. Ironically, it took two years for Gandhi to face disgruntled and disjointed partymen from Goa who have been openly airing dissent ever since 10 MLAs broke ranks in 2019.
The Goa factions were not called to Delhi to discuss election strategies, but with a singular purpose of resolving the leadership crisis. Gandhi has heard it all – failures, acceptability, shortcomings, strategies, the majority versus minority community balance and the surge of the Aam Aadmi Party that threatens to eat into party bastions.
It is obvious that Gandhi has now got a clear picture of the party affairs in Goa. He has thrown no surprises and remained inconclusive by maintaining the status quo for now. Time is running out. Besides the internal equations, a lot of external math will depend on Congress leadership. A delay in the resolution of this crisis will only hurt the party in the run-up to elections.