“The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.” - Karl Marx
Suddenly, the outrage is gone. Weeks after Goa’s phantom-like government promised us a regular, visible and tangible government – first, after the fortnight of the ancestors (Pitru Paksh) and then, Navratri, the goalpost hasn’t been shifted. It does not exist anymore. In a scene straight out of Justice League; an ailing Chief Minister was showing miraculous recovery fighting cancerous body cells, passing Rs 200 crore worth of Investment Promotion Board projects via video conferencing and blessing two Congress turncoat turned BJP beneficiary MLAs – quite like the return of Superman. And everybody is clapping.
Though many of us may feel outraged by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s alleged observation, “Ajeeb hain yeh Goa ke log” (Strange are the people of Goa or should we say weird?); the fact remains that our democratic behaviour has been nothing but weird. We vote MLAs to give us government jobs, government doles from welfare schemes and even government patronage if we encroach a property, get caught without a helmet or seatbelt by police and even if we are manufacturing deadly party drugs in a government industrial estate shed ignorantly. Remember ex-Mandrem MLA Dayanand Sopte telling us how Parrikar helped him with 103 government jobs for his constituents? Democracy is a joke in Goa as people elect rulers not representatives, dealers not leaders and our political character of self-addressing appeasement are why we see our MLAs offering themselves to the highest bidder. The same way we offer our votes to the highest bidder. An Assembly election candidate from Vasco tells us of his encounter with a reputed city-based businessman who demanded that “If you can give Rs 500 to lower income people to vote for you, you can surely afford to give Rs 2500 to the higher strata ones”. This is your Goa and this is where we are heading.
Last week when the MLAs from Congress jumped into BJP, it was just another nail in the coffin of our democratic aspirations. Let us not fool ourselves. Health Minister hopped his party to join BJP, Panchayat Minister left his party to join the same bandwagon. By rewarding them with ministerial responsibilities, Goa’s Chief Minister and his ruling party BJP has slapped across the face – the democratic belief of the people of Goa. People do not vote for political stability. People don’t vote for a symbol either. They vote for character, they vote for integrity. They vote for a wo/man who will not turn their lands into fields of concrete, who won’t cut their forests in the name of development but most importantly they vote for someone who will listen to them even after the elections are long over. Somewhere in all of this, while our political parties backslap themselves for pulling off a dramatic coup what got lost was the innocence of voters. The Goan voter of today knows that he is voting for himself, for his own private little needs not the integrity or vision of his candidate because loyalty in Goan politics is a kid’s diaper – perennially wet, perennially needing a change.
But beyond the mere simplicity of a voter seeing his MLA turning rogue to his own publicly proclaimed beliefs, there is a dangerous trend which is emerging. The MLA is masquerading as a champion of desires and demands of his electorate whilst he jumps from one place to another. Hidden from his voters’ knowledge, imagination and even perception is the fact that it is not their well being but his own petty interest that prompts the MLAs to jump ship. Little known to voters of Shiroda’s now resigned MLA is the fact that it was not a Rs 70 crore carrot but there was also an illegal mining stick that made him disgusted about Congress’ unity. And then there is the unconfirmed case of the missing Rs 7 crore from Congress party coffers which went unreported to the Police. The Valpoi MLA who roars about bringing down the Congress house is a sour loser who could not garner the numbers in March 2017 to become the CM. The Dabolim MLA who kisses every Parrikar patch now was once hounded by the same Chief Minister. That is the mad, bad and sad story of your friendly neighbourhood MLAs who jump parties.
But then why blame yourself and your MLAs. Remember the party that swore against BJP’s Hindutva and corruption from South joining hands with the BJP that cried hoarse about corruption during Congress times (but did not jail anyone) joining hands with the party that wants no bikinis on the beach and supports a terror outfit that wants to blow up our armies and police. That Dear Goenkar is your ruling coalition. And yes, our governments are the reflection of what we are. In this case, doublespeak gold diggers who wouldn’t mind compromising their own land, their own people – forget principles. Mind you this was the same government where coalition partners called each other anti-secular, corrupt and enemies of Goem-Goenkar-Goenkarponn but came together to waste no time to chase suitcases and cabinet berths. This is the coalition of the same parties that swore that their allegiance was to Parrikar and not BJP but they took the first opportunity to dump their loyalties to dash to BJP top bosses to seek a replacement. This is also the coalition of the same parties who used to scoff at Congress for its High Command and today the regional paper tigers in the coalition go begging to the BJP High Command and its biddings at the Centre. This is the unholy coalition of convenience that we succegaad Goenkars hauled upon our State chasing unworthy leaders and suspect characters as our MLAs.
So where does it leave us Dear Goans and Goenkars? We cannot blame BJP, GFP, MGP, NCP and INC for giving us wrong leaders. We allowed them to stamp unworthy candidates of dubious credentials on us. We cannot then complain that our leaders are fence sitters and gold diggers. Goa is paying the price of being succegad when it matters the most. We are more democratic posting comments on Facebook and WhatsApp but fewer citizens when it comes to building up a public opinion when we feel that our neighbour may be wrong. We behave like school children complaining about the monitor of our class hurting us when the fact is that we chose those monitors to be. They were just another face in the crowd begging for attention and we made them significant. We made them worthy and they took it for granted. Look at those talking heads on television and newspaper reports. See them well and ask if you knew them a couple of years ago? From nowhere they came, to nowhere they will go – if you believe that democracy happens. Ballots may be a long way yet but the time is always enough to shame these politicians. Search them out in your neighbourhood and remind them what Goa thinks of them. You are the democracy – Make it work.