30 Dec 2016 06:05am IST
Radharao F. Gracias
We are due to enter Year 2017 of the Gregorian calendar in a little more than twenty four hours. The New Year is set to bring in a new government for the State, a new financial direction for the country and a new President for the USA, the de facto world leader.
That Donald Trump will be the forty fifth President of the USA was determined “on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November”, which this year was the eighth day of the month. He will be sworn in on twentieth January. Both days are fixed by law.
Trump in his victory, defeated his opponent, the press and the pollsters in a manner never done before. And he did it by influencing people and winning votes by doing just the opposite of what another American Dale Carnegie has prescribed in his tome “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. Still his victory was not by popular vote but by a constitutional scheme. Trump secured nearly three million votes less than his rival but secured more “electoral votes”.
I have been following US elections for years and historically and naturally I am inclined towards the Democratic Party. But for the first time without any conscious effort, I found myself hoping for a Trump victory. And when the results were declared I was happier than most of my friends and peers here in Goa. As I see it, the major problem in the world today is Islamist fundamentalism that needs to be tackled. And Trump appears to be one candidate who has correctly identified the problem and may be able to tackle it, unless he does a Manohar Parrikar! A Trump-Putin alliance may be a requirement of the times and all portents point in that direction. One has to remember that during the Second World War, capitalist USA and communist USSR sank their ideological differences, joined forces, defeated the Nazis and then parted ways. A similar effort may be required now, without parting ways though in the end.
Here in Goa, we are scheduled for elections in the first quarter of the New Year. One can see moves, counter moves and alliances, being made and unmade. I have not contested an election after the year 2002 and I have no plans, to contest anymore. But in four decades of activism, I have enough experience of Goan voters and their demands. And seeing the type of candidates in the fray and the unchanging expectations of the voters, I see no qualitative change coming, no matter what the results.
It is routine for critics, political pundits and all those who do not contest elections to point accusing fingers at the legislators. To them, I can only say an MLA reflects the personality of the voter. No voter has right to expect his MLA to be better than what he is. I estimate that about a quarter to a fifth of the people vote on merit. The rest are commodities up for sale. And not necessarily to whoever pays more. Double cross is the name of the game.
These are the lessons I have learnt through electoral politics:
a) No political party any longer, has the ability, to win elections on its programme and policies, thus parties have to rely on “popular” individuals who are then roped into the parties and granted tickets.
b) Ideology has no place in the selection of candidates of any political party not excluding the Congress, BJP, MGP, UGDP, (and now the GRSP) or the holier than thou AAP, because the weight-age for giving tickets is on the “ability to win”. Damn everything else. And that explains Mauvin Godinho, Pandurang Madkaikar, Babu Azgaonkar, Manuel Colaco, Karl Vaz phenomenon.
c) Any person nowadays, to be a candidate, has to be able to provide free tractors and harvesters for paddy, mobile mortuaries for the dead, sponsors for football tournaments, cribs, “khells”, “tiatro”, repairs of religious places and sundry other purposes. If you do not have this ability, do not even imagine that you can contest elections.
d) The popular individuals are those who have nothing to do but “social work”. And these are either, the local matka bookies, the gang leaders, blackmarketeers/smugglers/drug peddlers, real estate/mining racketeers and the like. If you disagree, verify the antecedents of the current crop. “Social Worker” is a euphemism for him who has amassed wealth through dubious means and is seeking respectability. And there is nothing more “respectable” than being an MLA.
Despite my antipathy towards national parties, I did hope that the AAP may usher in a new era. But it is not to be. Expectedly, the RSS with its undisputed foresight has infiltrated into the AAP and placed its “swayam sevaks” in critical positions in the party. And true to upbringing, none of them will ever admit relationship with the parent organization. And none will be able to prove the nexus because there is no written record of RSS membership.
Contrary to claims, many of the AAP candidates are no cleaner than the candidates of other parties. Most of the candidates announced have travelled through and been discarded by the very parties, the AAP is now seeking to replace, on a platform of clean politics.
I may sound pessimistic. But it is better to face the truth at the beginning, than face a surprise in the end. Happy New Year.
(Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court Advocate, a former Independent MLA, a political activist, with a reputation for oratory and interests in history and ornithology.)