Herald: Senior Goans rewind to the now missing charm of the battle of the ballot

Senior Goans rewind to the now missing charm of the battle of the ballot

17 Mar 2019 06:25am IST
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17 Mar 2019 06:25am IST
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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

 

 

‘Times, they are a changin’. Elections

may have always been a serious business, but they were a celebration of democracy. Goans did this with romance, c

olour 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 election holiday.

“ 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.

But 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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