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Beset with its own share of political problems, the tiny state of Goa is once again in the national limelight for the ‘audio-exposes’ of the purported conversation of a minister in the state cabinet who is heard saying that CM Parrikar claimed of having files related to the controversial Rafale deal in his bedroom. The bombshell has created enough consternation around.

With the BJP and the ‘cast’ involved going into an immediate denial-mode with claims of the audio-clip being ‘doctored’; the state, and the nation, is assured of a fresh round of political tamasha. However, as always, one is tempted to think of such ‘one-off episodes’ as necessary ruses, as deemed by the ruling coalition of course, to take the public’s mind of more contentious issues that demand immediate attention.  

But with a deluge of unprecedented problems, it does appear that the serenity the state is renowned for is set to be shattered! With instances of mobocracy setting new norms in parts of the country, and with devastating affect at that, it is time we turned our attention to the contagious influence of mob-culture that could well threaten the peace and tranquility of the state.  

Thankfully, Goa has been spared the agonies of the ‘bovine politics’ that has consumed the country with powers that be deciding against disturbing the harmony that exists between various communities in the region.

Although sporadic cases of communal tension have been diffused by timely intervention of the government and community leaders, the state is apparently sitting on a volcano about to erupt considering the machinations which necessarily go on to endorse the vote-bank politics that characterizes the power-struggles in the country today. 

While the Bulandshahr violence that rocked UP is an example of the state government’s alleged laxity towards right-wing groups and mobs turning violent at perceived notions of communal affront, it is the increased ferocity with which people have resorted to violence to prove their point that has been more concerning.

It is impossible to get aroused without instigation and the countrymen have been guilty of blindly following the lead without ever bothering to get at the crux of the matter. However, public outrage cannot be equated with mob-fury considering its exclusiveness to a limited gathering which expresses its displeasure in violent ways – and with an equal measure of ‘prodding’.

This stimulation could come from the conviction very convincingly put across that there definitely is an imminent danger to beliefs held important by sections of the populace which feels wronged by the ‘misdeeds’ of others. The ‘Cow slaughter’ issue stems from such a line of thinking!

Even then, mob fury over supposed threats emanating from the deeds of rivals is still comprehensible, but when it comes to multitudes ganging upon someone for offenses which have no conclusive proofs, it amounts to a crime that cannot just be overlooked. Take our very own ‘Shiroda’ case for instance!

Deciding on the ‘guilt’ of the shopkeeper dealing in mobile-phones and other electronic gadgets and ‘enforcing’ strictures against his further stay in the locality, the assemblage of enraged public managed to have him ‘evicted’ from the village. That this shameful incident happened in full view and in the presence of mute police officials and a district administration functionary speaks volumes for the callousness of the authorities in allowing the irate mob to take law into their own hands.

And now it turns out that the Shiroda shopkeeper was never a ‘traffic sentinel’. Then what was the sordid drama enacted in the peaceful hamlet of Shiroda all about! Did someone from the ‘infuriated’ crowd have an axe to grind with the shopkeeper over some deal gone sour!

The precisely being the point, mob mentality cannot be seen as anything but the emotional behavior of the crowd on the face of coercing influence of a few headstrong amongst them who desist them from conducting themselves rationally to the issue at hand. The scientific law that every action has equal and opposite reaction does hold good for situations in everyday life of a common man. The manner in which he responds to the happenings around him depends largely on this principle propounded by the great Isaac Newton.

If that be the case there should have been passionate outcries against the unpopular moves of the government, whenever they have occurred that is. But the sharp reticence observed in raising voices against the ‘great injustice’ being meted out to the masses in the name of governance is equally baffling. Goa, in the grips of monumental works credited to the developmental agenda of the government of the day, is experiencing the wrought brought about by unplanned and unmanaged works on three major projects which have thrown the lives of the locals here helter-skelter.

And now with reports of diversions and realignments of the originally proposed route to facilitate unhindered work on the Zuari Bridge at the Cortalim stretch, the pace of work is taking its toll on the local residents in the area. But has planning such developments never necessitated envisaging alternatives to bulldoze through with the works in case of major impediments that could delay the project!

The way the PWD is making last ditch efforts to acquire land and complete the assignment in time, it is evident that the sufferings the people have to undergo in adjusting with the enormity of the project has never featured as a concerned issue for the government.  

This is where ‘people’s voice’ would have made some truly remarkable effect on the progress of the works. But alas! The disgruntlement appears to be confined to the drawing rooms alone with the government in oblivious glee over the silence of the citizens about their apparent displeasure.

The screaming silence over the manipulative ways of the legislators elected to form a government much against the mandate of the electorate was the first of the high-handedness exhibited by the people’s representatives which went without eliciting any response. The fuming and fretting of a few activists cannot be treating as a general opinion of the masses.

We then had the ignominy of Goa being governed from emergency-wards in hospitals throwing the entire governance in the state into disarray. With the state government literally on the ventilator, a motley crowd of MLAs took it upon themselves to ‘guide’ the destiny of the state. But the very constitution of the ‘amalgamation’ that goes for the government in Goa prevents it from holding a unified opinion, and make a decision thereafter, on any issue. In short, all official matters in Goa continue to be in limbo for want of a sanctioning authority who could take plans and proposals ahead.

The cheap politics played over ‘consolidating’ the party’s position which had functionaries in the state unit of the BJP encouraging defections from the opposition was another diabolical feature of the BJP agenda which did not go down well with the public either. The seething anger amongst the old-ranks in the saffron brigade in Goa who questioned the wisdom of the bigwigs within the organization in embracing turncoats from other parties and clearly ignoring loyalists did not make matters any better for the BJP either.

Yet the saffron-coalition continues its political journey unaffected. Other than the simmering dissent within the cadres of the Lotus brigade, the citizens are conspicuous by their deafening silence over the jokes played on them in the guise of progressive governance. If a disturbance as innocuous as receiving challans for traffic infringement could see a crowd of those ‘affected’ ganging up on one suspected of being the informer, it is surprising that the entire mess that characterizes governance in the state does not draw out similar responses that could revolutionize the system! Not rampaging mobs, but the collective will of people should turn the tide for Goa, and Goans on the whole!

(Published on 7th January 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 02)