The Congress high command has pinned its hopes on Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik appointing him as president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, a move that will, in all probability, lift the sagging morale of the party. rShantaram has been at the forefront of the party on numerous occasions commanding respect within the party and outside. His acceptance as a party leader is beyond question with a huge majority within the Luizinho camp also voting for him for the top post. However, Shantaram inherits a lot of baggage as he takes on this chair. There is fierce infighting within the party, discord between the old and new faces and the grass-root cadre is in disarray. His immediate aim would be to bring about unity within the Congress. Factions within the party have hit the party very badly with the Congress failing to form the government despite getting the mandate in the 2017 Assembly polls. rThe newly appointed GPCC chief has struck an immediate chord making a bold statement that toppling the government is not what the Congress is aiming for at the moment, a stark contrast to what the AICC secretary Girish Chondankar stated a few days back that “Congress is not in a hurry to form government, but rather toppling the government”. Making his intentions very clear, Shantaram has set his agenda upfront. Building up the party at the grass-root level and binding together the warring party factions – these are the battles that Shantaram needs to win first before planting his foot into other issues. rThe biggest advantage the Congress has in Shantaram is his proximity to politicos across the spectrum. He has been a close friend of Goa Forward supremo and TCP minister Vijai Sardesai, besides also having a fair connect with the MGP. Shantaram however has been very cautious over building political bridges immediately. He has put the ball in the court of the high command over approaching the coalition partners. His decision seems prudent at this point when the BJP and the coalition partners have been in total sync with seemingly no genuine reason for the allies to pull the plug. rWith a huge wave of expectations, Shantaram walks in to lead the Congress under a challenging situation. The immediate test would be the forthcoming by-poll in Panaji and Valpoi. It would be interesting to see how the Congress goes about their job of fighting it out in Valpoi where Vishwajit appears to be at the top of the game and also how much pride they can salvage in Panaji battling it out against BJP’s top man Manohar Parrikar. Shantaram’s big test begins soon and Goa is watching.