Opposition spits fire at Panaji, can they pull it together at poll?

| MARCH 27, 2024, 12:29 AM IST

The protest meeting at Azad Maidan, Panaji called by the INDIA bloc showed the first sign of alliance unity between the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress, Goa Forward Party and Nationalist Congress Party (SCP), with respective party leaders speaking in one voice over the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. It appeared that the Kejriwal arrest had brought the Opposition leaders closer, however, in the absence of sizeable ground workers, the protest appeared symbolic leaving one to wonder whether the bloc would have the bandwidth and endurance to challenge the BJP.

In Goa, the coming together of these leaders marks a drastic shift in political posturing. Until recently, the Congress and AAP were taking cudgels against each other over failures and weaknesses, to the extent that AAP went ahead and announced its South Goa candidate in Venzy Viegas only to retract later. In the normal course, it is rare to achieve such unity on political turf, especially when there are inflated individual egos, unrealistic choices, preferences and ideologies that seemingly make it impossible to see one team in them.

Kejriwal’s arrest became that common ground for parties to unite and speak out, and so they did, in no uncertain terms. While AAP leaders, including the party president, lambasted the BJP for their move to suppress the Opposition, run away from scrutiny and silence voices of dissent, Leader of the Opposition Yuri Alemao reiterated that parties have come together to protest against the arrest of Kejriwal and to express support for him. He lashed out at the BJP and said “terror” is being launched through government agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and Central Bureau of Investigation and added that the arrest of Kejriwal is an attack on the fundamental right of every individual.

The INDIA bloc protest amplified the fact that it stood solidly behind the Delhi chief minister, irrespective of all other differences. However, it is to be seen whether the same unity will be reflected in the electoral landscape of South and North Goa where equations get complicated. Where besides leaders, there is a need for workers to reconcile and bond together. The question is whether the INDIA bloc will show the same solidarity and resolve in supporting the Congress candidates, irrespective of who is picked. Whether, alliance partners like Goa Forward who had differences over candidates in the South, will eventually bury the hatchet and play along with one common goal.

The INDIA Bloc unity is crucial to the Opposition because the Congress or the AAP independently don’t have the wherewithal to take on the electoral machinery of the BJP, neither has any other single party. At this stage, the INDIA Bloc appears to be the only option. That being said, it’s still not going to be easy. 

The plot has only thickened after the BJP made its move in South Goa picking noted industrialist Pallavi Dempo as its candidate. It has led Congress to rewire its thinking, and rework strategies. In alliance politics, the biggest predicament is over-choosing candidates, because it’s about the name, acceptability, winnability and not to forget, financial muscle. Alliance parties can only succeed if there is an unconditional commitment and unified effort on the ground. 

The focus has now completely shifted to the Congress candidates, and while the grand old party continues to go into a huddle over their choice, there is a big question mark hanging over the INDIA Bloc unity in Goa.

Share this