I have known Vijai Sardesai for the last nine-years that I have been in Goa.
Our relationship is one of mutual respect and mutual caution of and between each other.
I have met many politicians in Goa and in India, with interesting and intriguing personalities. To me Vijai Sardesai is a politician that encapsulates an intriguing personality with a equally intriguing brain.
Having started his political career sparring in the Congress. One would have thought that he would risen to lead the Congress as a young leader and retire all the old dead wood.
But Congress has a peculiar trait, it will not allow someone to grow bigger than the old dead wood in their party.
In 2012, some senior leaders in Goa, having close proximity to Sonia Gandhi, decided to bring Vijai to his knees, after all, one man cannot beat the Congress in Goa.
He was denied an assembly seat by Congress.
Many thought, that this was the end to Vijai’s political career.
That’s because in the past Goa has seen national political parties throw their high command weight around; and local leaders had buckled under pressure.
Vijai, however, was and is not someone who will buckle under any pressure. He decided to take the fight to both the Congress and BJP.
He stood as an Independent and won convincingly in 2012.
Congress on the other hand was reduced to 9 seats from being in power with a huge majority.
Vijai lapped up the opportunity of being in the opposition. He single-handedly took on the Parrikar-led BJP government. He was a thorn in their side.
The lone Congressman supporting Vijai in his crusade against the failure of the BJP-government was Curtorim MLA Alexio Reginald Lourenco. They became the ‘Terence Hill – Bud Spencer’ entertainment show in the Goa Assembly.
Reginald even took a huge leap to contest in the Lok Sabha 2014 election with Vijai Sardesai backing him. But the clever strategies of Parrikar outsmarted Vijai and Reginald.
Reginald lost by over 32,000 votes and BJP’s Narendra Sawaikar won the South Goa LS seat.
Not sulking over the LS 2014 loss. Vijai decided to form his own political party ‘Goa Forward Party’ and take his vision of Goa forward rather than depend on national parties.
In the Goa Assembly Election 2017, under Vijai’s leadership Goa Forward Party won three seats. The important bit is that is that his political party only contested three seats, which is a 100 per cent performance.
Again in the Goa Assembly Election 2017, Congress decided to try and test Vijai’s mettle again. Instead of openly or covertly aligning with him; they chose to play and antagonise him till the end.
They did not forge an alliance with him, even after indicating till the last minute that they would. More importantly they decided to act petty and put up a candidate against him.
When the results came out. Congress decided to first fight amongst themselves over the CM’s chair and relied on the ridiculous logic that the parties like GFP, MGP and Independents would come to them, in the hope of getting a share of the pie.
BJP on the other hand, approached Vijai. They struck a deal while Congress leaders were still sitting in Mandovi Hotel fighting over the CM’s chair.
Some idealists that supported Vijai, were understandably upset with him, because he deduced to join hands with the BJP and NDA.
I however, as analyst feel, that it was the most logical step to take, in light of the failing Congress aura across the nation, deliberate attempts of local Congress leaders to jeopardise Vijai’s political career and the fact that if he could deliver on his election manifesto, then people will not judge him for his political decision, emotionally.
It was a wise decision.
Today in Parrikar’s absence. Let me be candid. He calls the shots directly and indirectly.
That’s is why you find most ambitious Congress leaders at his home, most BJP leaders also at his home, including BJP Goa President Vinay Tendulkar.
In the coming LS 2019, the way Vijai moves will decide whether BJP or Congress or a GFP backed candidates will win or lose.
During the recent leadership crisis in BJP Goa. Some local BJP leaders even mooted to the BJP High Command to put up an offer to Vijai to merge GFP with BJP and let him takeover as CM.
Vijai will never merge GFP with any political party. If he does, he will lose his individuality, he will lose the pace in which he plans to grow his party in Goa.
In the next Assembly elections, if my analysis is spot on, GFP will be looking at contesting at least fifteen seats.
Vijai does not crave to become the Chief Minister by mere consensus or by bowing down to a national party. He wants to win it handsomely, like a mountaineer on a expedition to climb a high mountain.
BJP’s problem is not Congress its Vijai, even though he is a part of the alliance. The problem for Congress is also Vijai. GFP will rise above both the political parties in the coming years, because it has a strong pull – regionalism.
I see a ‘Vijai’ rising while the old dead wood of Goa politics setting.