There are lessons in the Congress-NCP combines' disastrous2012 campaign for the BJP, which has taken adolescent steps towards endorsing'family raj' as a political theme for the 2022 state assembly polls.
Just 10 years ago, the Congress-Nationalist Congress partysuffered one of the worst defeats by a ruling dispensation after it allotted 12tickets to members of political families.
The Congress had allotted a whopping 33 per cent of itsticket share in the 33 assembly seats it contested to the kith and kin ofsitting MLAs.
The Alemao family led by powerful cabinet ministers andpatriarchs, Joaquim and Churchill, contested from Cuncolim and Navelimrespectively.
Churchill’s daughter Valanka was fielded from Benaulim.Joaquim’s son Yuri was allotted a ticket by Congress' alliance partner, theNationalist Congress Party, in Sanguem. The Alemaos alone accounted for 10 percent of the 40 seats in the state assembly.
Education minister Atanasio Monserrate contested from the StCruz assembly constituency ticket, while his wife Jennifer contested fromTaleigao.
Pandurang Madkaikar and his brother Dhaku contested fromCumbharjua and Priol assembly constituencies, while the Ranes Pratapsingh andVishwajit contested from Poriem and Valpoi respectively. Ravi Naik and his sonRitiesh also contested from Ponda and Marcaim assembly seats respectively onCongress tickets.
All the Alemaos and both the Naiks lost the polls, the Ranesand the Monserrates duos survived and the Madkaikars won one (Pandurang), whilethe other lost.
The result was a thumping defeat, which reduced the strengthof the Congress to nine MLAs in the 40-member house. While allegations ofcorruption and the mining scam were other key factors which led to theCongress's doom, the family raj frenzy was counted as one of the key factorsfor the massive defeat.
The BJP appears to be walking down the same path which ledto Congress's doom, according to senior journalist Sagar Jawadekar who addsthat the ruling party appears to have tried to blunt the 'family raj' trend alittle bit by denying a ticket to deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant Kavlekar'swife Savirtri, who is keen on contesting from Sanguem.
The party's decision to deny Utpal Parrikar a ticket tocontest from Panaji, a constituency represented by his father from 1994, alsoappears to be driven by both, the optics of the exercise as well as the senseof 'comfort' which Babush Monserrate could bring to the party as far as theother constituencies in Tiswadi taluka are concerned.
While Congress leaders in 2012 had openly defended the issueof tickets to family members by citing political reality on the ground, BJP'sGoa election in-charge Devnendra Fadnavis too has made attempts to provide aconvenient rationale.
"We have to encounter occupational hazards in politicstoo. Babush Monserrate and his wife were elected and joined BJP. JenniferMonserrate has her own identity and she is a minister in the BJPgovernment," Fadnavis said last week.
But whether the 11.5 lakh voters of Goa will buy the formerMaharashtra Chief Minister's logic remains to be seen.