Mamata’s fire and bluster scorches Goa poll scene


    By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

    Panaji, (IANS) The famed moodswings of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee and her partymen against the ruling Congress party seem to have got into a domino mode, spreading from Delhi to West Bengal to Goa.

    Less than a week after he was appointed state president by the Trinamool, Wilfred de Souza has called the ruling Congress-led alliance in Goa “corrupt, ineffective and lacking in ideas” and said his party would take the Congress head on during the Goa assembly polls March 3.

    “Goa needs a clean party; the Congress is corrupt and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is communal, whereas the local parties did not have any standing. So Goans did not have any viable third alternative. Now they have one,” de Souza said even as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has dared the Congress to leave their alliance government in her state.

    In Goa’s political circles, the octogenarian de Souza, a renowned surgeon, is known to match up to Banerjee when it comes to temperament. He is seen to have orchestrated coups in the past which have dropped governments and occasions, propped some.

    “He has changed the political course of Goa several times around in the last three decades. He has the potential to buck the Congress boat in Goa because he is a very credible Christian face, something the Congress lacks,” a senior Congress leader said, underscoring the importance of the 26 percent Christian votebank in Goa.

    And de Souza’s newfound adoration for Banerjee is certainly an ominous sign for the Congress, which is battling charges of corruption and nepotism ahead of the March 3 polls.

    “Mamata Banerjee is doing a lot of work and changing the face of Bengal. I want to transfer that energy to Goa,” de Souza told IANS.

    The two-time chief minister said Trinamool would look at raking up three primary issues which are now hogging prime mind space in Goa as their poll plank.

    “Trinamool’s issues will be to attack corruption, illegal mining and the issue of medium of instruction (MoI),” de Souza added, adding that the Congress government had failed to handle all the issues adequately.

    The Congress is on the back foot on the ground as far as the three issues are concerned, with several ministers being linked to illegal mining and corruption-related scandals.

    The third issue, where an indecisive and hesitant Congress first backed the English language as the favoured medium of instruction and later was unable to back the decision with political will, could also give its prospective candidates a few sleepless nights.

    Commenting on Trinamool’s poll strategy in Goa, de Souza said with the organisation just a week old, the election strategy would be formulated in consultation with Banerjee soon.

    “I will align those parties which do not choose tainted people to be candidates,” he said, adding it was an extension of a specific brief given by Banerjee to ally regional parties and forces and not national political outfits.