It was in the run up for 2017 elections that Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackrey made a frank confession. The leader of Sena who has taken over the reigns from his father, Balasaheb, admitted that it was a mistake of his party to give a walkthrough for BJP in Goa during late 80s. That was a time when BJP was not strong enough and Sena was roaring in neighbouring Konkan. Considering the geographical proximity between Goa and Konkan, it would not have been difficult for Sena to have its footholds in Goa.
They missed a bus and now they are struggling to make their impact in this coastal state. The slogans of ‘Jai Gomantak’ are not accepted by the local population who wholehearted accepted BJP in the recent times. Sena remained an alien party trying to establish its base.
The people of Goa have witness how Sena has been nominating misfit people as its president. Upendra Gaonkar was somehow fitting the tag of Sainik till he was caught on camera extorting money from a casino owner. After that there has been no proper face to represent this party.
We have seen how the saffron party which roared like a tiger in Maharashtra remained lull in Goa. Politically immature decisions taken by the party are largely responsible for such devastation and non-start up for it.
Name the former Goa Sena presidents and you will get the answer of what went wrong with the party. Recently, Ajitsingh Rane, a leader with leftist bend and who was close to Congress was nominated as the Sena Chief. It was expected that Rane will quit the party and then his last known political address is Aam Admi Party. Little before that Sudip Tamankar was its chief. Tamankar is a known leader of the Private Bus Association who later turned into RTI activist. But never had a political acumen or a strength to build any organization. That experiment failed and we saw Shivprasad Joshi taking over the party. Joshi is known for his closeness with MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar. During his entire tenure, he never proved to be influential and finally he was removed. Before joining MGP he addressed a press conference damaging the party.
In the entire bargain, if we analyse Shiv Sena there are some things which are extremely positive for the party. The formation of Goa Surkasha Manch and their alliance with Sena would have worked wonders during 2017 assembly poll. But somehow they could not make impact. That does not mean that we can completely rule out the combination.
Besides this another factor that has surprised many. Fresh face in the form of Jitesh Kamat has taken over. And sudden surprise was the slogan of Sena which said ‘Gonekaranchi Sena’. The usage of Konkani in the slogan is likely to work positive for the party. The young blood like Kamat who has teamed up with Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik in South Goa has a power to build the party. In absence of opposition, it was Kamat-Naik duo through their press conferences and press notes had kept the government on the toes. Naik had guts to take BJP bigwigs like Amit Shah and Manohar Parrikar head on through the press conferences. The points were well taken by the people Another factor that cannot be ruled out is involvement of Sena leader Sanjay Raut. The Journalistturned –politician has been giving a right direction to the party. He has been holding several organizational meetings with the state leaders.
We can see some of the new faces like Milind Gawas, Riya Patil, Vandana Lobo, Amol Prabhugaonkar, Rajani Veluskar and others joining the saffron party.
Raut has made it clear that the party is here to wait and will work during all the 365 days. He admits that the party used to come to Goa only during elections because of which it had no acceptance.
This changing face of Shiv Sena is likely to make impact in the State. It might not sit in the ruling benches during the next assembly election but certainly, it would be a force that other political parties would not ignore. The upcoming Lok Sabha election can be a good starter for Shiv Sena which has already announced that it would contest on both the seats. The power of Goa Surakasha Manch is likely to propel further the prospects of Sena. And as an experienced journalist, I would say, nothing can be ruled out in politics.