So here is another first. An ailing Chief Minister suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer (now officially admitted by his own Health Minister) wants to hold a Cabinet meeting around his bedside. Goa’s Cabinet that morphed into a Cabinet Advisory Committee working via telephone calls and video conferencing and then was supposed to have held its Cabinet meeting at the prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences now wants to hold its meeting at his residence at Dona Paula. All this while the Opposition demands to see him and make his presence felt in public and his cabinet colleague feels Goa has no right to demand to see its CM, considering he has done so much for the State and should now be left in peace with his family. Suddenly, Goa demanding to see who is running this State has become a personal problem for the BJP but the state of this State is not a personal problem – a rudderless State is the new normal for them.
For the past eight months, Government of Goa’s Cabinet of ministers has not held a single meeting led by CM in person and with a full quorum. This, in gross violation of established norms and practices set forth by the Constitution of India. This fact is no urban legend that photo-ops of weekly coordination committee meeting (remember the photo-op that was tweeted but the meeting never happened thereafter?) or the so-called video conferences between Cabinet members were all eyewash. Goa’s council of ministers have been role-playing and masquerading cunningly as a professional running outfit that is running the State well but the truth is Goa is in a state of coma with a perforated and heavily bleeding economy that is gasping on life support systems with nobody competent to salvage or cure it in the current dispensation much like the CM’s own health condition that was misrepresented to the people of Goa.
Respect is a two-way street borne out of mutual trust and faith. Even as the CM battled out possibly one of the deadliest forms of cancer, his party and his Cabinet colleagues should have ensured that continuity and transparency remained the benchmark for Goa’s governance and the State continues to take up every new challenge. The fact was diagonally opposite. BJP as the ruling party at the Centre and in the State left no stone unturned to ensure that the people’s mandate, which was hijacked from them in March 2017, was reduced to a joke. In the past eight months, no official data is being made public by this government with regards to the state of the economy or the rate of rising unemployment. Just as BJP at the Centre moved goalposts to ensure the real state of economy or price rise or jobs would not be known to an average Indian, Goem has witnessed nothing different. In the nineteen months of this government, eight months have been spent in just misguiding the people.
It isn’t bravado anymore that a CM struggling with his fatal health condition wants to hold yet another Cabinet meeting at his bedside. It rather seems a joke when his Health Minister tries to derive political capital to defend the CM’s absence from public life saying he has to be with his family while the CM wants to put up pretences. This isn’t dramatic anymore. This is downright megalomaniacal and Goa isn’t impressed. The manner in which Goa’s Cabinet has been travelling all over the place shows no serious purpose nor commitment to the State. Rather it seems more of a travelling circus that keeps on performing at different places showing off new acts and callisthenics. The exercise is leaving an average Goan not just weary of this government but also of politics per se. A condition that is dangerous for democracy in Goa. And there is a reason for it.
“The general population doesn’t know what’s happening, and it doesn’t even know that it doesn’t know,” says American philosopher and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky. That is what the state of people of Goa is. A situation successfully being harvested by this ruling coalition and its various political parties. Remember how the people of Goa had voted out the BJP in last elections and yet the BJP entered through the backdoor? The people of Goa may soon grow weary of electoral politics and even democracy per se if it sees the futility of voting if the same bunch to power every time. Politics in Goa, as we have seen vacillates between voting the known crook and the crook on the rebound. Crook incidentally is also the hooked staff of the shepherd. And that’s how Goan politics was driven around. The current trend of a government disconnected from its own electors is not just accidental. Goa government and its coalition partners have cleverly kept themselves restricted only to their own publics. Have you noticed how a major part of Goa is not only unrepresented in the government but the ministers in chair ensure that their chairs remain and so does their captive electorate? Rest of the State is forgotten. Government and governance have become synonymous with lack of transparency and absence of commitment. And the people are getting tired and even immune to the idea of government.
For susegado Goa, the outrage is missing. Their CM never met them except for talking through television screens and newspaper photos. The idea of CM is as tangible as the genie from the magic lamp. Their CM is visible only to their elected Ministers and MLAs. Their CM acts only through his favourite bureaucrats. So except for the two dozen odd exclusive ministers, coalition partners, party leaders, bureaucrats who are blessed with a CM of their own – the idea of CM is not for the ten lakh odd people who voted for this Assembly, this government. The current crop of ministers, ruling MLAs, ruling coalition are but the greatest threat to the very idea of democracy and the idea of India ingrained in the Constitution. They are the ones who want you to believe that the absence of the CM is normal. They are the ones who want you to believe that political paralysis, rising fiscal deficit, rising economic debt, a slowdown in the economy, rising unemployment is not all that important an issue. For them giving pompous speeches of Quixotic vision, lofty commitments, their limited moments under political consideration is more important than the welfare and trust of the people of Goa. For them, governance is more about announcements extraordinaire, than realistic goals. Goa is in the clutches of clueless governance.