For a state where fun and frolic is a way of life, it comes as quite a surprise that its politics is as diverse as its culture.
However, the geo-political compulsions notwithstanding, it becomes difficult to justify the need for 40 legislators for an area that is not bigger than a district say in Kerala or Karnataka which is administered by a Collector, and ably at that.
Perhaps the presence of so many legislators in the state assembly for a region as tiny as Goa has brought politics down to the level where it has become so predictable.
Come elections and the enthusiasm shown by various parties to cobble up alliances keeps the locals bemused. They know what the outcome would be, but still continue in the vain hope that some good will come of a worthwhile ghatbandhan in the immediate future. This optimism exemplifies a quintessential Goan when it comes to his aspirations for a Bangarache Goem, a Golden Goa.
That’s why it is said that political consciousness and Goans are miles apart! As with their Susegado attitude, the who-cares-and-what-good-it-will-do-for-me approach has not served them well either.
If not for the overwhelming victory of the Parrikar-led BJP in the last hustings where a number of new-faces came to the forefront of the political limelight in the state, the locals would have to be satisfied with the more-or-less regular faces that have been dotting the political horizon in the state for quite some years now.
Nonetheless, with the political greenhorns failing to impress the electorate with their performances, their future certainly looks bleak!
Even so, the way politics is being played out in the state these past few months, it does appear that the ‘non-performers’ could yet again scrape through by a whisker in the ensuing elections.
Every year of BJP-government’s current tenure has been ‘exceptional’ in the sense that it has re-defined political parameters as no other party has done in the past. With a leader at the helm who ‘specialized’ in U-turns, his cabinet colleagues were not to be left far behind.
Reneging on poll-promises, the BJP in Goa went on to give a lesson or two in how political outfits are adept at taking the electorate for granted. And now with CM Laxmikant Parsekar ruling out the possibility of the state getting a special category status, the wheel seems to have come full circle for the all-trusting Goans who had voted for a change in 2012. Is this the change they were looking for?
Though Goa is in poll mode now, the election fever is yet to catch on as is evident from the low-key proceedings. That’s surprising, to say the least.
Barring organizing Maha-Melvaas that is supposed to constitute a show of strength by political parties, the silence and inactivity that has greeted the announcement of elections to the state assembly is quite surprising!
Their political affiliations notwithstanding, except for the ‘sincerity’ of some prospective candidates in reaching out to the local populace, it hardly appears that Goa is heading for Assembly elections soon.
Politics is the art of fooling people with a sincerity that is befuddling. It is that science of subtlety which makes the tongue say something that is never in keeping with what the mind feels. So also in Goa!
Let us just familiarize ourselves with the mish-mash that goes for politics in the state today!
Expecting the ‘Lotus’ to be in full bloom, the Goa unit of the BJP is in an exhilarated mood, ‘privileged’ to have the affairs of the state being managed from Delhi.
In the meanwhile, having gone into a virtual hibernation for all but the last few months of its term, the Congress in Goa is evidently fighting for its survival. Yet the party leadership thinks nothing of conveniently sidelining the young go-getters in the present set-up with old war-horses with faint hopes of regaining its ‘past’ glory.
On the other hand, with Chief Ministerial aspirations, the Marcaim legislator is keen on reviving the MGP and efforts are afoot to get the ‘Lion’ out of a slumber. Of course the news that he and his brother no longer remain ministers in the present government is a different story altogether!
As underdogs, the NCP in the state is suddenly on a ‘sign-up’ spree ‘enlisting’ all public discards to put up a front of those vanquished in recent electoral battles.
A few regional factions - I may be pardoned for not referring to them as parties - are putting up a brave front of addressing issues closer to the heart of the quintessential Goan, with occasional shows of defiance against the anti-local stand of the government characterizing their protests.
But a strong feeling that it will be the ‘independents’ who will be calling the shots has time and again been voiced by traditionalists who have been forced to look beyond national parties to form a full-fledged government in the state.
Apart from the existing few in the present assembly who have effectively maintained their credentials as independent legislators of substance, there are many in the present scenario who have suddenly realized that politics indeed is a powerful tool of social engineering!
Moreover, with a steady rise in the number of claimants to various assembly seats, the ‘politics of ticket distribution’ engaged in by various parties during the election season will ensure that there will be an equal number of rejections as well.
Convinced of their ‘winnability’ these then will be the next corps of independents who will have a dominant role to play in the coming elections!
But going by the new trend that has greeted Goa, the voting public is sure to be thrown into a quandary of sorts with a plethora of hopefuls, old, new and the regular ones, aspiring for a membership of the assembly.
Unfortunately with the type of options proffered, already doubts are taking shape that the Goan electorate will be left very little to choose from.
With none of the constituencies, in such a situation, expected to throw up a one-to-one contest, or at best a three-cornered fight, the bleak prospects of a ‘un-cherished’ candidate walking through into the haloed portals of the legislative assembly cannot be ignored either.
What alternatives are we Goans left with!
It is at such times that people have rather audibly suggested going along with the NOTA option in these hustings.
Goa yet again heads to the polls with the locals as naïve as they have been all these years, undecided as to which political party or combination would serve them the best if voted to power.(Published on 02nd January 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 1)#