TMC has donned the coat of a national corporate before setting its foot on the Goan soil. This could be the new age politics where the critical jobs of establishing a party organization out of nothing, generating the “push” and “pull” factors for the party and generating a ground swell for the expansionary plans of the party (company) in new locations (markets) are sourced out to non-political managers and PR consultants.
This also marks a departure from the traditional approach in democratic politics of moving from the grass-roots to the top through participation by the masses.
The party (corporate) strategy here is to first fix the top leadership and later percolate to net the voters.
To put the expansion plans of the party on fast track model, the needed political leadership is drawn by poaching, stealing and all other forms of monetary and non-monetary incentives from the rivals and competitors.
There would be definitely either super-ambitious or dissatisfied leaders of proven experience or nuisance value in established political parties which could be tapped. These come handy to commence quick operations rather than the process of building a cadre from grass-roots.
This is what national and multinational corporates adopt in their expansion plans and franchisee operations. This is akin to a hire, use and fire policy of modern corporates.
Riding on the spectacular win in New Delhi and the image of the crusader against corruption, AAP made a similar entry in the 2014 Goa parliamentary elections which failed but gave a vote share of 3.4% to the party. In 2017 state elections, AAP engineered the hype in conventional and social media of “Goa looks at AAP” and alternative politics. The results are for all to see. They contested in 39 seats and their candidates lost their deposits in 38. They managed to bag around 6.4% vote share.
The party has continued its political work in Goa lurching at the Congress party vote bank and banking upon what they market as the “Delhi model” of development. It is getting some semblance of traction in 3 assembly segments of South Goa and 2 in North Goa but does not appear in any way to make it to the finishing line.
However, AAP has nothing to lose as long as it can get a vote share to be recognized as a national party by the Election Commission of India. It can only jeopardize the Congress apple cart in these assembly segments if people fail to understand the game.
The sudden entry of TMC is similar and yet different. TMC is held in awe for its victory in West Bengal. Its image graph is at the pinnacle mainly for showing the door to Amit Shah-Modi BJP despite them being perceived as omnipresent and omnipotent.
Now, TMC is contemplating to be on record as a national party with the required vote percentage. In this bargain, even if they pick up one seat in Goa, it would be like landing on the moon. At least, AAP is putting forward a development programme, the Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC team is directly into assembly constituency and election booth management devoid of any programme or vision document for Goa.
Knowing the anti-incumbency factor of the local BJP government and beating the drums of Didi Mamata as the one and only national leader to defeat the BJP, they are creating a facade of ousting the BJP in Goa. The TMC drama in Goa has temporarily put AAP and the regional outfits on mute mode.
Why only Goa? Small sized states like Goa are relatively easy to work for the final objective of vote share. In addition, there are disgruntled politicians ready to grab alternatives providing a relatively easy access to make a start. It is common sense that no political party or for that matter any trading company cannot come down to any location unless there are locals standing at the door to accord welcome.
In Goa, they say this was initially facilitated by a local media house along with one-time esteemed Congress politicians.
Will the Congress sink further with entry of TMC? It looks that the TMC can stand on the Goan soil only at the expense of the Congress party. Hence, the natural strategy of the TMC is to destabilize the Congress party political infrastructure. It is the weakening of the Congress party that will give them the dividend in terms of vote share.
The Congress in Goa is at its rock bottom today in terms of numerical strength in the state assembly. However, it is gaining fast and strong traction to emerge as the single largest party in 2022. It’s too early to predict whether the Congress party will cross the magic figure of 2l in the 40 member state assembly but the people are currently looking at the Congress to provide an effective alternative to the ruling BJP.
TMC could spoil the sport if the people succumb to the blitz that the I-Pack is proposing to unleash in this tiny state. But, it does not look plausible that the TMC can in any way cause primary damage to the BJP in Goa. On the other hand, it can provide relief and collateral security to the ruling BJP in 2022 and injure the prospects of the people of Goa who are eagerly waiting to welcome the new summer by dispatching the ruling dispensation to the pavilion.
Let’s hope the expectations of the New Dawn does not turn out to be the dusk of TMC (Goa) and the Congress party in Goa.
(The writer is a former Goa State Election Commissioner and political commentator)