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On Wednesday, the Congress in the coastal state collapsed as eight of its 11 MLAs joined the BJP and Digambar Kamat is the most senior of them.

It was 1994 when the BJP won four seats in the Goa assembly elections. Three of the winners went on to make an everlasting impacting impact on Goa’s politics. Apart from Shripad Naik, who is now a minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet, the other two - Manohar Parrikar and Digambar Kamat - have had an interesting past between them.

On Wednesday, the Congress in the coastal state collapsed as eight of its 11 MLAs joined the BJP. Former Chief Minister of Goa and veteran politician Digambar Kamat is the most senior of them.

Although Kamat had contested his first election from his stronghold Margao in 1989 on a Congress ticket and lost, he rose in Goa politics only after joining the BJP. Along with his close friend and a fellow saraswat Brahmin Manohar Parrikar, Kamat was instrumental in building the BJP in Goa. By 1999, the BJP’s tally of MLAs in Goa had risen to 10 from four just five years ago.

In 2002, the BJP got to taste power for the first time in the coastal state.

A young and dynamic IIT graduate, Manohar Parrikar, got the opportunity to lead the state as its chief minister. It is believed that it was here that the seeds of discomfort between him and Kamat were sown.

In 2005, Babush Monseratte, Micky Pacheco and others staged a coup against Parrikar. The man who led the coup was Digambar Kamat.

Parrikar was forced to step down, the Congress came to power and Kamat was made the mining minister. There were whispers in Goa’s political corridor that Kamat toppled the BJP government at the behest of the mining lobby and that he went to resign in the car of a mining baron.

In 2007, the Congress yet again saw a tug of war for the chief ministerial post between Pratapsingh Rane and Ravi Naik.

In the tussle, Kamat emerged as the consensus candidate. But by then, his close friend and now a political opponent, Manohar Parrikar, had become the Leader of the Opposition and was vehemently after Kamat.

Parrikar followed up on the mining scam, all his guns trained at Kamat. The rivalry between the two former friends saw no end.

In 2012, the BJP came back to power. Digambar Kamat was by now facing a probe in a mining scam. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) was probing the PMLA case and a court framed charges against Kamat.

 After Parrikar was whisked away by PM Modi to Delhi to be made the country’s defence minister, there were talks, for the first time, that Kamat might do a ghar wapasi. But he was, by now, a trusted leader of 10, Janpath.

The murmurs were back yet again after Parrikar’s death.

Before the 2022 assembly elections, after all its MLAs had deserted the party, only Kamat was the one man standing strong for the Congress in Goa.

But finally, Digambar Kamat also decided to take the plunge and he returned to the BJP.

Interestingly, when Parrikar’s son Utpal was asking for a party ticket for the 2022 assembly polls, he was offered to contest from Kamat’s bastion Margao.

Now, it will be interesting to see what new role Digambar Kamat gets in the BJP.


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