Another setback for the Goa Congress

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Eight Congress lawmakers joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in delivering a swipe at the opposition party in Goa on Wednesday. The shock exit of the leaders – who make up more than two-thirds of the party’s membership in the state assembly, thus not attracting disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law – is more detrimental for two reasons. . First, with the loss of former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Opposition Leader Michael Lobo, Congress sees its senior leadership in the state nearly decimated. Second, the defections show that despite rumors of unrest in July this year and the appointment of a troubleshooter, the party was unable to prevent the defections and found itself politically outmaneuvered by the BJP. It also did not miss anyone that the defections occurred against the backdrop of the party’s biggest outreach effort in years, the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The immediate consequences are clear. The defections are an embarrassment to Congress, which finds itself unable to defend its stables in the state for the second time in three years, despite having made every lawmaker take a public oath not to abandon the party before the election. at the Assembly earlier this year. The party has blamed the political and financial muscle of the BJP and accused the ruling party of using federal agencies as tools of intimidation, but its continued vulnerability will reduce its stock at a time of intense jostling in the nation’s space. ‘opposition.

But beyond party politics, the defections also point to a curious trend in Goa’s electoral landscape. During the Assembly’s last term, nearly two-thirds of lawmakers switched sides – an unprecedented number in Indian politics. The continuing wave of defections indicates that there is no major electoral sanction for defections in the state; voters tend not to judge legislators harshly for abandoning ideologies or parties; and that local fiefdoms and spheres of influence have more importance in state politics. This type of transactional relationship between voters and their representatives is a challenge not only for anti-defection law (which presupposes prioritizing the party over the legislator) but also for electoral politics itself.

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