Vishnu Surya Wagh will be remembered, not for his brief political career, but for his writings and his oratorical skills. He could stand in front of a crowd and have them hanging on to his words, just as those who read his works kept turning the pages to learn more.
Wagh’s literary works will live after him, keeping him alive in people’s minds long after his mortal remains have been given their final farewell. He wrote in Marathi as well as in Konkani and dabbled successfully with various genres. His prose, poetry and drama was eloquent and hard hitting, and brought him fans, awards and foes alike. He accepted them all graciously.
He was the fiery writer, the firebrand leader, the man who combined his passion for the underprivileged in his writings with the pressures of politics, fighting for them, defending their rights. But he refused to be or even sound politically correct. He said and wrote what he felt was right, no matter what those who heard him or read his works thought of it. His fight was for the underprivileged and he never did shy away from saying so. In that he was a true tiger, as his name suggested, ready to take on the foe and defend those he felt deserved his protection.
His straight talk got him into controversy, once too often. Even when he was ill and no longer making public appearances, Wagh remained in the news. In 2017 a controversy arose over the Goa Konkani Academy award for a book of poetry Sudhir Sukta or ‘Hymns of a Sudra’ written by him, when a member of the jury felt that the work for which the award was being considered could be seen as being ‘communal’ in nature, and had the potential to incite communal flames. Wagh at that time was unable to come to the defence of the work, but had he been in good health, would probably have published another work that would have singed his detractors, some of who never came up to his literary standards.
A one-term MLA, Wagh was a Congressman who turned to the BJP and contested the 2012 Assembly election on the latter party’s ticket. Being a BJP MLA, did not stop Wagh from hitting out at the party whenever he felt it was called for. He took on the party, criticizing it within the House and outside it, never fearing any action from the leaders. It wasn’t unusual for him, he had been critical of Congress when he was with that party too.
He efficiently wove into the political circles some of his unique dramatic talent, often knowing that I would embarrass his government, but that didn’t stop him. Wagh has played out his last parts on the theatrical and political stages. His presence on both will be missed.