Panaji: The bitter electoral battle between a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader and guru, and his illustrious and politically-powerful shishyas, is fast attaining mythical proportions in this coastal state going to the hustings on 4 February.
Ranged against each other are Subhash Velingkar, the sacked RSS chief, and three BJP politicians he personally groomed and mentored — Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Union minister of state for ayush Shripad Naik.
Fighting for the same electoral constituency, the conservative Hindu vote, the battle between the Velingkar-mentored Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) and the BJP seems to be taking a leaf out of Indian epics Mahabharata and, to some extent, the Ramayana, if the comments made recently by leaders from both the parties are considered.
Regarded by the BJP party cadre as the Bhishma pitamaha of state politics, after the grand patriarch of the Mahabharata, Velingkar was sacked as the Goa RSS chief last year after his consistent criticism of the state BJP for backing English over regional languages as a medium of instruction in schools. Velingkar, during his tenure as Goa Sanghachalak, mentored several generations of BJP leaders, including Parrikar, Parsekar and Naik.
Immediately after he was sacked, Parsekar, however, decided to depict him as the warrior Karna, whose kavach kundals had been stripped off and was therefore rendered vulnerable.
"There is nothing to fear now. He has lost his kavach kundals," Parsekar said just as the BJP's poll campaign kicked off.
In the Mahabharata, the kavach kundal is a reference to Karna's earrings which made him invincible in battle, but the warrior was tricked into parting with them by Lord Indra, disguised as a pauper, rendering Karna vulnerable.
Parsekar, obviously, was referring to Velingkar's sacking from the RSS, an organisation which he had been a part of for nearly 50 years.
Velingkar responded in equal measure.
"My kavach kundals are not linked to the RSS post. I am a Sangh Swayamsevak for life. He should know our kavach kundals are not temporary in nature. Their kavach kundals will fall when elections are held," Velingkar had retorted.
The rhetoric wedded to mythology did not end with this.
When asked if the GSM, which is contesting five seats as part of an alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Shiv Sena, would be able to take on the might of the ruling BJP, party President Anand Shirodkar told IANS: "Our five Pandavas are fighting the Kauravas of the BJP. And you know who eventually won the battle of righteousness."
For the Shiv Sena, it would appear that Velingkar is Lord Krishna incarnate.
"This election is a contest like the final war as described in the Mahabharata. While the BJP represents the Kauravas, those who are fighting against them are the Pandavas. Velingkar is for us like Lord Krishna, who is going to guide non-Congress and non-BJP forces to victory," former state Shiv Sena President Sudip Tamhankar had said.
Velingkar himself, in a speech on 29 January, slipped in a bit of the Ramayana in the Pernem Assembly constituency while campaigning for the MGP.
"Power has gone to their heads in such a way that during the corporation elections in Panaji last year, they tried to once again sow the seeds of Portuguese influence in their manifesto. Some people have studied in IIT, even Ravan at the time had studied in the IIT of that era," Velingkar said, in a veiled reference to Parrikar, an Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay alumnus.
While top BJP leaders have refused to directly criticise Velingkar in their public speeches, they have suggested that the former RSS leader had lost his bearings due to age.
In response to a question about Velingkar's criticism on Sunday, Parsekar said that he would not like to respond to his allegations against the BJP.
"It is not necessary for me to react to Velingkar's comments. It would be good if you clarify with him... We have allowed him to talk. Let him keep talking. We will keep listening," Parsekar said.
Updated Date: Feb 02, 2017 18:05 PM