There was a time when everything came together for Digambar Kamat, the Margao Congress MLA, who was part of a disastrous defection plot led by Michael Lobo. Right from 2005, when he brought down the Manohar Parrikar government because he was feeling ‘suffocated’ in the BJP, till 2012, he was a man with the Gods on his side. Then, Parrikar turned the tables, not once, but twice and since then Kamat seemed like a boat without a sail in River Sal.
How Kamat, a seasoned politician, let himself become part of a defection that fell short of the required number, points to a man who has loads of faith and not an ounce of luck. The Margao MLA is not new to the defection game, but not having played it for a long time made him believe the rules had not changed. In fact, the new political mantra is wholesale, not retail.
Until 2005 Kamat was a man who, for all purposes, worked in the background because the late Manohar Parrikar was virtually a one-man government. Everybody else walked in his shadow.
Then, in 2005, Kamat emerged to bring the government down and after a by-election became part of the Congress government. This happened because the Congress was voted back to power at the centre in 2004 and then, no one said the Congress was attempting to make India ‘opposition free’.
Kamat’s big moment came in 2007, when Pratapsingh Rane and Ravi Naik fought over the chief minister’s chair and Kamat became the dark horse to be sworn in as CM as a compromise candidate. Things like this don’t happen unless the Gods are with you.
Forty-nine days later, the BJP led by Parrikar launched an attack. The two-member MGP and an independent MLA withdrew support to the Kamat govt and an MLA from the ruling party handed in her resignation. This pushed the Kamat govt to the brink of collapse. Everybody gave up on Kamat, except the Gods. The tables were eventually turned and the Kamat government survived.
In January, the following year, seven MLAs from the ruling side decided to vote against the government on the money bill. This would have brought down the government. On the day of the vote, a terrible accident happened in which seven people lost their lives. Kamat requested the Speaker to adjourn the House as he had to rush to the accident spot. This brought the government enough breathing space to pull itself from the jaws of defeat.
And that is how Kamat went on to become the first chief minister to serve the entire term of five years after nearly one-and-half decade of political upheavals, during which Goa saw chief ministers come and go at the rate of one per year. And since then, it would seem, the Gods have stopped smiling on the Margao MLA.
In 2017 elections, the Congress was the single-largest party, but it could not decide who should lead it as Kamat and Luizinho Faleiro locked horns over the top post. In the meantime, Parrikar flew down to Goa and cobbled up a government. Another election this year and the Congress finds itself in the opposition for the third term.
The question now is, where does Digambar Kamat go from here? There is no reason to brood over it, because in the tumultuous world of Goa politics, just like the James Bond film, ‘Die Another Day’, all Congress MLAs live to ‘defect another day’. And it seems that day might come sooner than later.