How Goa strongman Luizinho Faleiro could benefit TMC as it tests new waters
Political circles in Goa are in turmoil with talks between former Goa chief minister and incumbent Navelim constituency MP Luizinho Faleiro joining Trinamool Congress (TMC) after leaving Congress.
The buzz gained momentum after the announcement of a mega press conference by Luizinho Faleiro, who is Goa’s top congressional leader. Luizinho Faleiro to address the media at the Marriott ballroom in Miramar on Monday.
Falerio, meanwhile, added fuel to the fire on Sunday, telling reporters in Goa that he had “after pondering over the past few days, his decision is made.” However, he denied having met a TMC leader or being invited by the party to join its ranks.
Until a few days ago, Falerio was considered close to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. He has represented Navelim since 1980 and was elected from seat for the first time on a list of congressional candidates. In 1984 he won the seat as an independent only to land the seat again in 1989, 1994, 1999 and 2002 on a congressional ticket.
The siege was won by Churchill Alemao of the Save Goa front in 2007 and Avertano Furtado in 2012. Falerio regained control of the siege in 2017.
Falerio’s importance to Goa can be measured by the fact that recently the AICC appointed him as head of the 13-member campaign committee for the Goa elections.
A senior state congressional official told India Today TV that the former CM’s Monday press conference did not have the party’s backing.
He said resentment was brewing in the Goa Congress as the elections approached. He does not rule out the possibility that some disillusioned party leaders change sides for the TMC.
In 2017, despite winning 17 Assembly seats in Goa and becoming the largest party, Congress failed to form the government as key leaders bicker among themselves.
The top officials of the State Congress led by Girish Chodankar and Digambar Kamat as leader of the Legislative Party of Congress (CLP) are accused of ignoring the voice of state leaders.
Faleiro may bring more than a grip for the TMC in Goa as he was also the leader of the Congress party’s Tripura campaign in 2019. With the TMC planning to expand its footprint in Tripura, outside of Goa, Faleiro may s prove to be an asset.
An indication that the TMC plans to make big forays into Goa Assembly polls in 2022 came when its Rajya Sabha leader Derek O’Brien and Lok Sabha MP Prasun Banerjee landed in Goa last week. Sources said their trip was exploratory in nature and that they planned to meet with a cross-section of political leaders and social groups to assess the political situation before taking the plunge.
Mamata Banerjee made it clear last week that the TMC would run in the Goa assembly elections to be held early next year.
Interestingly, members of Mamata’s political strategist, Prashant Kishor, I-PAC team have already been stationed in Goa for over a month. They met with MPs, former MPs, leaders of religious groups, social activists and prominent citizens to gather information on the current political situation in Goa.
However, this would not be TMC’s first entry into Goa politics. In 2012, former chief minister Wilfred de Souza, who is credited with Congressional victory in Goa in 1980, became a big catch for the TMC. Since 1963, Goa politics have been dominated by regional actors, in particular the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party.
In July 1998, Souza formed the Goa Rajiv Congress Party using an INC splinter group and was sworn in as Chief Minister for the third time on July 30, 1998, and remained in office until November 26. 1998.
He joined the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in 1998 and served as Goa’s president from 1999 to June 2009. The TMC contested 20 Assembly seats in 2012, but failed to win any as its total vote share was less than 2%.
In 2014, another ex-chief minister from Goa joined the ranks of the TMC. Churchill Alemao contested Lok Sabha’s election on a South Goa TMC ticket but lost.