For Goa, it will be an enduring image in living memory. A gentle and genteel Elvis Gomes leading a charge against Maharaja Casino’s blatant encroachment of the footpath and ensuring that it was cleared for good. The AAP workers might be in tow but it was Elvis quite like the other Elvis’s (Presley) immortal words “Oh well, I’m tired and so weary, But I must go alone”. While Congress earlier did its political drama outside the casino entrance, it was Elvis-led AAP that ensured that the political opportunity gets converted into a historic moment. For a change, the politician was not just picketing, issuing press releases and addressing press conferences. He was delivering and how. The legendary Goan patience gave way to a moment of almost volcanic intensity. Revolution of a political kind still has hope in Amchem Goem.
With the Opposition Congress MLAs in the Assembly lacking any spark, drive and even depth to bring the angst of the people either in Goa Assembly or on the streets, the voice of political opposition on the streets has been left in the party cadres of Congress and Aam Aadmi Party. Both of them, a study in contrast. While AAP under Elvis seems more like a David against Goliath, a hopeless romantic with his back against the wall (of a Goan electorate that has not quite understood AAP or wants to risk experimenting with it), Congress, led by young Girish Chodankar, is recreating the Ram Manohar Lohia’s 18th June March model of travelling door-to-door to make the Goan step out and take the fate of her/his land in their own hands. One individual-istic and other cadre based.
Deep down, Goa and Goans have always been fascinated with the thought of the anger against hegemony brimming within, of leaders storming ruling bastions. But then Goans have also been legendary for their orderly acts of disobedience. From the Opinion Poll to the Konkani Movement to the anti-RP, anti-SEZ Movements – Goa has been one of the finest models of resistance against government forcing its decisions. But the opposition spilling out in the streets, though welcome for a change, leaves one bewildered too. For example what was that photo-op of Mahila Congress president Pratima Coutinho and company all about? Why did the Congress not push for the forcible removal of footpath encroachment which is justifiable in law? Why did the State’s BJP government that was sleeping when the Corporation of the City of Panaji failed to remove the encroachment acted on the AAP attack? Questions that shall remain to bug us.
But then Elvis did rock it the way, Goa should. This weekend when you show your resistance posting Facebook comments, forwarding WhatsApp messages to show your displeasure with the way this government is running Goa or the way the Opposition is lamely objecting to what Goa government is forcing upon us, ask yourself – whose fight is it anyway? As American journalist Mike Barnicle puts it, “We live in a culture where everyone’s opinion, view, and assessment of situations and people spill across social media, a lot of it anonymously, much of it shaped by mindless meanness and ignorance”. Do you see where we are heading? “Shallow emotions. An incapacity to feel genuine love. A need for stimulation. Frequent verbal outbursts. Poor behavioural controls. These are just some of the things that social media are encouraging in all of us. They’re also a pretty comprehensive diagnostic checklist for sociopathy,” feels Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart Editor.
Look at the world around you and you may see a million mutinies brewing. Against erratic power cuts, against depleted water supply, against illegal constructions on a weekend or the flying squad failing to turn up when you find an illicit act happening. Ask yourself, are you electing your government through Facebook or WhatsApp or Twitter? That’s where we are going wrong, in democracy.