Senior Goans rewind to the now missing charm of the battle of the ballot
Elections in Goa in the Portuguese era and then in the early years as a part of India were simple and colourful. Campaigning in open jeeps borrowed from friends, picnic of fish and rice on the beach after polling and poll helpers content with some good food and drunks. Café looks back at those times and seems how they have changed
are a changin’. Elections may
have always been a serious business, but they were a celebration of democracy.
Goans did this with romance, colour
and ‘joie de vivre’ It was a people’s carnival of democracy, celebrated with
spirit. Now its cut throat, and when
we say it’s serious business, it is indeed serious “business”
Eduardo Faleiro, the
former Union Minister for Chemicals remembers how he had to depend on his
friend to bring his open jeep and drive him through the tiny roads of Curtorim,
while Eduardo himself perched on the open jeep made a few speeches and reached
out to the people and ultimately won elections back then in the 90’s.
“In the Portuguese
era Goans were allowed to vote in the local elections and elections to choose a
representative in the Portuguese Parliament but the elections were reserved to
only those who were literate and educated and many who had no formal school or
could not read nor write were not allowed to vote,” explains noted historian
Rafael Viegas from Curtorim, who makes us understand that the 1963 General
Elections in Goa, was for the first time that every Goan, every common man was
going to vote and hence, it was a matter of pride for Goans.
Raphael explains how
Goa did not vote a single, Congress candidate in that election and the only
Congress representative to the government from the union territory of Goa,
Daman and Diu was from Daman and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s response to
that was, “ Goa ke bhailog bahut ajeeb hai (Goan brethren are very strange)”.
While Baburao Gawas
explains that Goa was very disconnected to the rest of the country and a
general election meant more of fun, sending a representative to Goa while Goans
enjoyed the election fever, the mandos and songs that were composed on the
election, the Election Day holiday and the outings that one could do on the
“ Most often a losing
MLA contested MP elections and the focus was less on who to vote and send out
of the state but general elections always came in April or June and the end
point was to vote early in the morning and take the family with a parcel of
fish, curry and rice and urak and have a great day on the beach with family
friends and relative explains Jeremy Souza from Benaulim.
But now 46 year Abhay
Naik explains that times are changed, “For the first time, Goans are aware that
bridges, highways and major infrastructure can come only from the Central
government and hence people think a bit more about how to vote and which party
to elect for a PM candidate.
“Nowadays also more
Goans are employed in the state government departments and have election duty
and that again changes the outcome of how families like to spend their time on
an election day or in the buildup to elections.
“ Then Goans were
divided over the issue of language and to choose between Marathi and Konkanni
and now elections are fought over lines of reservations, communal issues, food
habits, industrial promises and many other issues and the sphere of election is
much different in today’s times.
I was in politics
when we had to satisfy people who came to our election rally with a cup of tea
or a small snack and maybe later in the 1990’s with a small pulao and gravy but
today the demands of the general public are ten folds more and it involves a
money and muscle power stated Alex Cardozo from Fatorda.
“ There’s been a
complete collapse of the government organizations and today people are
dependent on politicians for everything, from getting their clogged gutters
cleaned to fixing their water supply, clearing their garbage, providing a fruit
plucker, providing harvesting machines for free, to restoring the electricity
connection or even providing water through tankers. And hence today the voting
pattern is different and also there a lot of non –Goans in a constituency who
have new demands,” explains Cedric Cotta who works at one of the MPs office and
feels that Goa’s dynamics in voting has completely changed.
From my younger days
till today, there is a lot of dynamics involved in an election. Boys in the
village were happy to accompany a politician’s envoy for a few days because
they were paid out some token amount, they got free meals and probably a few
drinks after the day’s campaign while the dry day before elections was most
rued and everybody waited for the post 7pm deadline for bars to open explains
Ivor Costa from Chadrawaddo.
But Costa explains,
now the driving force to campaign for an individual is to see how much money
you will be paid in that period of time.
for most Goans, elections is still an additional holiday and a day to go out
and spend with their loved one’s after voting early in the morning. While in
the buildup to elections, senior citizens from Goa prefer to follow the news on
the newspaper and sit by their balconies and watch as the next generation takes
the mantle and fights out an election.
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