30 Jun 2022  |   08:25am IST

Goa adds political tourism to its list of hospitality offerings

Goa has long had a checkered history of being one of the world’s most hospitable places where the guest truly feels welcomed.

Or that used to be the case a few  years ago. The lack of public transport and the inhospitable and at times violent vibes by what is known as the taxi lobby may have dimmed that vibe.

However, when it comes to political guests from other states, especially if they are in the right party, then Goa can pull out all stops to keep their “party” going  in  honour of their political guests.

Goa played the perfect host with the state machinery leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena MLAs who were crisscrossing the country on chartered planes to be away from Maharashtra, were made to feel at “home” in Goa.

From security to high-end accommodation, the friendly system in Goa ensured that they would be comfortable and secure on the night before they proceeded back home to carry out their democratic duty of forming another government with the BJP after toppling their own coalition government. The irony of this could not have been starker. The son of Bal Thackeray, the first person from his family to have become the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, got ousted by Shiv Sainiks who did it "to protect Bal Thackeray's legacy". It’s clear though that no Shiv Sainik would dare to or have the moral and political courage to bring down a Shiv Sena government led by a Thackeray, if Balasaheb was alive.

Moving back to the issue of political tourism BJP is not the only party that indulges in sending its MLAs to BJP-ruled states when a toppling mission is going on. Gujarat, Karnataka, UP, and Madhya Pradesh are chosen states for BJP. Goa too has been added to that list.

The Congress is no stranger to this having practiced this art for much longer and with much more finesse. But then it had state governments across the country to play host to rebel factions en route to their final “kill” in their toppling game. Therefore, let no party criticize such moves because no one is here with clean hands. It has become almost an accepted practice that when a political party is spearheading a move to bring down a rival government, it turns to its party-led governments in the states to give logistic and even financial support.

Therefore, it doesn’t really matter if the state is flood-hit, is economically stressed, or has been directed to immediately get its act together to conduct panchayat elections. In today’s political code of conduct, it becomes the duty of Chief Ministers to help form their party’s governments in other states and pull out all official stops and put the machinery of the state at the disposal of the mission, to ensure government formation  led by their party in yet another state.

At the same time, the size of the Maharashtra rebellion is indicative that it is not an ordinary Shiv Sena revolt. It bears the signature of a BJP-led government toppling mission which has been the hallmark of the present BJP leadership. Rebellions in non-BJP parties happen in today’s India when the BJP decides to form its government or even strengthen it. And Congress rebels have been the single biggest contributor to BJP’s government formation game in many states.

However, with this formula getting replicated even in the Shiv Sena, it has become clear that the BJP government breaking machinery has reached the level of political art, even though it fundamentally undermines democracy.

Meanwhile, Goa has become a player in the Maharashtra toppling game and added its name to the list of political tourism destinations.