As it so often happens when a people versus the government situation gets out of hand, the biggest casualty is trust.
Soon the situation spirals out of control where facts on the ground are cast aside, offset, blurred in a cloud of deep mistrust. The same has happened in the case of the Defence Exposition and Aero Show where the Goa government and a section of locals in Betul and Naqueri feel left out and considered irrelevant, when crucial decisions are made affecting their surroundings.
This is the larger contest to the DefExpo and Aero Show debate. The inherent distrust and anger at the government for failing to deliver on its promises is playing out at the site of every project. At the same time most of the protests are deeply rooted in reality and question the basics of each decision that the government has taken, without talking the people into confidence. The government and those who are backing it have a counter argument which cannot be negated, but can be countered if argued rationally. The government maintains that after it received it mandate to deliver, it cannot go back to the people on day to day decision making. It states that for routine executive decisions, it cannot go to the village panchayat to gauge the will of the people, which often is decided by sentiment and not reason or facts. And one industrialist even said at Margao during the presentation of the Defence Expo on Thursday that it has become a “dhanda” (business) of some people to oppose projects.
The government may well have had the right to make this argument if it had approached the people with clean hands. It would have had the right to make this argument if it had delivered on all promises which were based on people’s consultation like the Regional Plan for instance. It would have the right to make this argument if it had not duped the people of their land, whether at Tiracol or Tuem. At every step of the way the government has taken decisions which threaten the futures of ordinary Goans, and the futures of most ordinary Goans depend on land, their land. So Mr Industrialist, it is not the people or those who support them who do “dhanda”. It is the government which has been doing a “dhanda” with the futures of people and selling Goa bit by it. It is a pity that this “dhanda” is not condemned but people’s protests are labeled as “dhanda”.
And if the target of this industrialist who like many industrialists who are handpicked men of the ruling BJP and placed on crucial trade and investment bodies, is opposition parties, who they believe are doing “dhanda” with people’s issues, then the BJP must answer why it was also doing “dhanda” with the people when it supported the movement for a just Regional Plan or the removal of casinos from the Mandovi, when it was in opposition, only to ditch them when they came to power.
Relationships matter as much in governance as in families. A man who brutalises his family and destroys them cannot have the right to expect reasonable argument based on fact, at every interaction with his family. A passionate distrust is a construct the BJP does not understand because it has never been routed in an election, even when it has not won it. The Congress knows what it is to lose the trust of people. The BJP should get ready to take lesions from the opposition on what it feels like to be routed. They may just about need it.