In a seemingly sudden development on Tuesday, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief in Goa and veteran politician Dr. Wilfred de Souza resigned from the primary membership of the party. With his resignation followed a series of resignations of atleast around 20 members of the 32-strong state executive committee. The NCP is the major coalition partner of the Congress led government in the state of Goa. Interestingly none of the three MLAs of the party - Mickky Pacheco, Nilkanth Halarnkar and Jose Phillip D'Souza have resigned from the party.
Faxing his resignation to the national NCP president Mr Sharad Pawar, Dr Wilfred De souza has resigned exactly on the tenth anniversary of the formation of the NCP. Commenting on the tenth anniversary, Dr Wilfred De Souza mentioned that the NCP came into existence as the party founders were against a foreigner to head the country. However he pointed out that Ms Sonia Gandhi had been the chairperson of the UPA as well as the head of the congress and in such conditions he opined that the formation of the NCP does not hold good anymore and questioned its reasons to continue in future as a national party.
It may be recalled that the NCP was formed by Sharad Pawar, Tariq Anwar and P A Sangma in opposition to the foreign origin of Ms Sonia Gandhi. However the NCP has been supporting the formation of the congress led UPA government in the last term as well as this current term. The state NCP leader Mr Surendra Furtado in his personal capacity mentioned that if the issue of foreign origin of Mr Gandhi is a non-issue now, the party no longer needs to exist.
The state unit of the NCP has in the meanwhile always been considered as a party with open factions and mired in dissidence. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, it is believed that the state leadership of the NCP was marginalised completely and kept away from all party matters and during Mr Pawar's campaign in Goa for its party candidate the press conferences were held outside its main office. Eventually the NCP candidate Mr Jeetendra Deshprabhu lost to the BJP and fetched few votes in Dr De Souza's constituency of Saligao.
It is believed that the relationship between the party chief and its minister in the Goa cabinet Mr Mickky Pacheco was also soured in the last few years. In his response to the resignation of Dr De Souza, Mr Mickky Pacheco said that the resignation should be accepted. The other Minister Mr Jose Phillip D'Souza said that "if one De Souza leaves the NCP another D'Souza is willing to take his place".
Dr WIlfred D'Souza has however been credited with raising the NCP flag in Goa and has been instrumental in the NCP gaining a foothold in the state of Goa after he merged his Goa Rajiv Congress with the NCP in 1999. Dr De Souza has now stated that with his goodwill and influence created with the Goan masses over the years he will support the current government both in the state and at the centre without any reservations.
Among those who resigned with him from the NCP included former MLA and former vice president of the party Ms Fatima de Sa and former general secretary Mr Surendra Furtado who both lashed out at the party high command and the rival faction for ignoring the real party workers and patronising landlords, mine owners and new entrants from other parties.