The Congress came out unscathed on the Karnataka leadership issue after a prolonged period of indecisiveness and a picture of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge in celebratory mode with frontrunner Siddaramaiah and strong contender DK Shivakumar in tow said it all. Amid fears of Karnataka going the Rajasthan way for Congress, the party leadership pulled itself together, settled the math between the two leaders, and did what it had to do to ensure that there is no collateral damage.
The re-emergence of Congress in neighbouring Karnataka saw partymen in Goa go ecstatic with a rush of adrenaline in a motley group that was distraught and directionless till now. However, while the Karnataka win is inspiring, partymen back home must introspect on how this inspiration can rub on to them in the run-up to the Lok Sabha election.
In Karnataka, two tall leaders of Congress buried the hatchet and interests while agreeing to work together in the larger interest of the party. For now, this is a template the Congress would like to set for all other States where it is competing for political space. In Goa, while there were celebrations over Karnataka, the functioning of the party remains a picture of incomparable contrast.
Consider this: While the BJP has descended on the ground campaigning for the Lok Sabha election next year, the Congress remains scattered projecting itself like a small bunch of people with varied aims and targets. Sitting South Goa MP Francisco Sardinha is fighting an internal rebellion and does not have unanimous support for his candidacy, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Amit Patkar, a new face in the party, is struggling to find his feet and the chaos is only making his job difficult, leader of the Opposition Yuri Alemao is the lone man fighting, Aldona MLA Carlos Alvares remains patchy and former GPCC president Girish Chodankar is fighting his own battle from outside the boundary.
The few others who are protesting on the ground don’t have the bandwidth to make a mark and cut out a sorry picture. The Congress is reduced to a party of assorted leaders with conflicting agendas. Worse still is the fact that Manickam Tagore who was appointed as the new AII India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Goa in January this year replacing Dinesh Gundu Rao, has failed to make his presence felt and remains a silent spectator.
If there are lessons to be learnt on unity, then Karnataka becomes a classic case for Goa. The central command must show the same urgency that it showed in Karnataka and set a hierarchy and discipline in place so that rebuilding can begin right away. Against the giant-killing effort in Karnataka where the BJP lay decimated, the Congress in Goa appears back-broken by defections and is currently incapable of even projecting itself as the principal Opposition. Other political outfits like Aam Aadmi Party and Revolutionary Goan Party are fast gaining traction and getting noticed even by the ruling party.
The bottom line is whether the Congress can pull itself together after the Siddaramaiah-Shivakumar fostered unity in Karnataka and mend its ways, or whether it will continue to blame other emerging parties for eating into their vote banks.