Congress gets a new party president in Goa


Panaji : Goa’s ruling Congress got a new party president after narrowly weathering a toppling bit that hit it a fortnight ago, marked by defections and counter-defections.
Ex-speaker of the Goa assembly and former Curtorim legislator Francisco Sardinha is the new man in the state Congress president’s slot. He has been a lawmaker since 1980 but lost the June 2007 elections. Sardinha replaces Ponda legislator Ravi Naik.

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In another development, the farcical drama of defections in Goa took an even more bizarre twist with St. Cruz legislator Victoria Fernandes requesting the speaker that she be allowed to withdraw her resignation. This came on the heels of the government stripping her of the posts of the chairperson of the Kadamba Transport Corporation (KTC) and the Congress’s parliamentary secretary.

Septuagenarian campaigner Fernandes was one of those who triggered off a bitter July-end crisis for the Congress in Goa by switching allegiance in the 40-seat house, where Congress and BJP are within snatching-reach of seizing power.

Fernandes’ latest move to withdraw her resignation has completed the circle which started with her hunger strike for not getting a ministerial berth – soon after the June 2 assembly election results were out.

As a compromise, she was given the KTC chairperson’s post and a position as parliamentary secretary with cabinet status. But this did not stop her subsequent resignation from the assembly and the Congress.

Save Goa Front (SGF) chief Churchill Alemao, another controversial politician who left the Congress earlier this year, was this week also allotted the plum Public Works Department (PWD) portfolio as he switched sides back to supporting Congress.

However, controversy seems to be a way of life for the state Congress unit. Rumblings have already started within the party as it prepares for the South Goa parliamentary battle to fill the post that was vacated by Churchill Alemao to contest the South Goa Navelim assembly election that he won.

For the parliamentary seat, apart from veteran politicians who lost at the recent June 2 hustling, others in the fray are Goa Congress Committee office bearer Vishnu Wagh and Churchill Alemao’s daughter.

For now, the fear of losing power seems to have subsided for the Digambar Kamat-led Congress government.

The threat began in a pre-dawn rebellion with the pull out of government by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) legislators and the resignation of Victoria Fernandes along with the speedy formation of a Goa Democratic Alliance (GDA) comprising of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), SGF, lone United Goans Democratic Party legislator Atanassio Monserrate and independent legislator Anil Salgaocar.

However, any rupture in the chances of the Congress at the centre is likely to have it’s fallout here too and attempts to oust the Digambar Kamat government could revive.