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July 16, 1999
Opposition in Goa pins its hopes on rebellion in Cong
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji
Election to the sole Rajya Sabha seat in Goa have generated immense interest in the state with the possibility of rebellion in the Congress becoming stronger with the each passing day. The Congress candidate, former union minister Eduardo Faleiro, faces a stiff competition from Delhi-based lawyer Bhavani Shankar Gadnis, who is the common candidate of all non-Congress parties.
The reason why everybody is talking about the possibility of some Congress legislators voting for the opposition candidate is that Gadnis is a former joint general secretary of the party's legal cell and by virtue of this has friends at all levels in the organisation. What remains to be seen is whether Gadnis is able to exploit this friendship or whether senior Congress leaders manage to keep their flock together.
With Goa's disqualification cases reaching the Supreme Court time and again, Gadnis has come in contact with several top political leaders, a majority of them belonging to the Congress.
The polling will take place on July 26.
Dr Wilfred de Souza, on behalf of whose Goa Rajiv Congress Gadnis is contesting, feels he has already won half the battle by securing the support of all 16 opposition legislators belonging to three parties, including the 10-member Bharatiya Janata Party and four-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, in the 40-member House. "He has to now manage five more from the Congress," he says.
After engineering defections in the two-member United Goans Democratic Party, strength of the ruling Congress party has risen to 23. It also enjoys the support of the sole independent candidate.
At least nine Congress legislators are seen as soft targets by the opposition. And quite predictably the main grouse of all these nine legislators is non-inclusion in the ministry.
In fact, the situation is so serious that political pundits even expect a change in the government soon. They will closely watch the developments on July 26. So will the entire state.
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