In the words of post-war British historian Neil MacGregor, “The collapse of the Tower of Babel is perhaps the central urban myth. It is certainly the most disquieting. In Babylon, the great city that fascinated and horrified the Biblical writers, people of different races and languages, drawn together in pursuit of wealth, tried for the first time to live together – and failed”. BJP’s Tower of Babel, its coalition of greed and opportunism that speaks different languages, pursues different agenda and rules Goa without batting an eyelid on what the people want, seems to be heading for failure. No, the government isn’t falling and neither is the Goa Assembly getting dissolved. Rather, it is the idea of Constitutional Democracy that is turning out to be a farce as Goans watch in horror as to what horror their votes have unleashed upon this pristine State.
Over the past 100 hours, Goa has been vacillating between an acutely unwell Chief Minister unable to attend his office yet refusing to let go and then changing his mind. Over the past 100 hours, we have his party trying to hold desperately on to power not clearly interested to rule the State well but more to ensure that BJP’s national tally of BJP-ruled States does not get reduced.
Dear Goa, for the BJP you are just a trophy wife, a feather in the cap that ensured that its writ ruled across 21 States in India. In fact, the drama that is being played out right now is not about giving Goa a stable and able Chief Minister but is more a marriage of convenience. The truth is, with the larger than life Manohar Parrikar out of the scene, BJP’s Central leadership is now more worried about its national tally getting decimated in Goa where both the North and South Goa seats are facing severe incumbency. And the key to those votes (you guessed it right!) is in the hands of the MGP.
However, Goa’s Babelesque ruling coalition has been speaking different languages. Sample this. MGP president Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar says, "It is high time Parrikar hands over the charge to the senior-most minister for the smooth functioning of the government.” Goa Forward Party’s president says, “Why should the charge be given now? Parrikar is running the government and there is no vacancy that is created.”
Everybody knows very well that Parrikar has been ailing with bad health and constitutionally there should be a transfer of power to ensure that a smooth and stable government remains. While MGP, which is clearly in the driver’s seat and a position of advantage, rightfully feels that as the second in command in the coalition it should assume the leadership. But GFP still holds on to a fragile thin thread of opposition that the CM is still there. Call it mass hoodwink of the people – showing a bizarre loyalty to an absentee CM or call it a political disadvantage in an equibalanced coalition, GFP carries the farce further.
Then there is the BJP’s own Team B of those MLAs who have been unsuccessful to get a cabinet berth just because their CM preferred to reward their lesser known and freshly inducted coalition partners with those cabinet berths. Their new found loyalties are more about losing their grip on a lucrative cabinet which would go away if Sudin becomes the Chief Minister. The newfound loyalty for Parrikar has more to do with keeping the equilibrium hanging in limbo rather than to bring in, stability to the State. Most importantly, the whole Tiatr of Absurd that is playing out in Goa’s polity is not about giving Goa good governance but ensuring that the red beacon cars, the plum ministries and departments and control over the State’s resources are equitably distributed such that there are no questions asked, no accountability and commitment demanded.
But does the tiatr end only with the protagonists? Not exactly.
Congress, despite having the majority numbers and boasting of experience of over four former Chief Ministers, is not just a divided house but a hijacked one. Five Congress MLAs are willing to jump ship and support BJP, three MLAs fascinated with and loyal to Parrikar himself, the party resembles the last and lone cake in a baker’s shop waiting eagerly to be bought and sliced well. Clearly, the party that was swept back to power last year hasn’t got over the shock and its incumbents more than eager to be courted and weaned away.
Dear Goenkar this is what is happening to our State as we lay prisoners to the same leaders that we elect. Somewhere, Goans have stopped asserting themselves as a democratic society and started behaving as those suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. From Valpoi to Quepem, from Mapusa to Curchorem, from Panjim to Dabolim – Goans are morbidly fascinated by the same leadership that offers not a clean, transparent and people-oriented government but a stereotyped model of political chicanery and governments of convenience. The only Common Minimum Programme offered by such MLAs are one of loot and let loot. And there is a continuity about it.
Does anyone recall that grandiose political enlightenment that was once dished through Facebook pages such as ‘Let's talk issues --Wake up Goa’, ‘Fat Chalchi na’ and ‘Mission Goa’? No scam gets noticed, no corruption gets acknowledged and misplaced sense of governance rocks Goa. The current political tamasha should be analysed by Goans in that context. Read what your Minister is saying. One Minister says he shall not enter the Secretariat till the man he extended support to returns to office knowing very well that (1) support is extended to a political party not an individual in a coalition (2) the man is not likely to return to the Secretariat for quite some time.
So the million dollar question is – will the loyalist vacate his own chair now that he is attending work himself? Then there is another one who says something similar but clears bunches of files as his personal businesses are closely linked to his ministerial portfolio. The list of double-faced leaders who pout profound wisdom of loyalty but are more keen to ensure their own interest is taken care of grows on.
So what does this coalition now looks like? Seven Catholic MLAs in a Hindutva party eventually settling down to be led by a Minister who has alleged links to a radical Hindu outfit supported by another party that swore before 2017 elections of its secular credentials but has since then moved on to more saffron (oops…greener) pastures. Over the next few days, Goa will watch screaming headlines, earth-shattering breaking news of how BJP pacified its coalition partners who were worried about their images to fall under the command of a not-so-secular party Chief Minister.
Do watch how the MLAs you elected befool you on camera, through social media, on newspapers about how they came together to help Goa overcome its leadership crisis with Parrikar as the mentor and all of them as, marauders. It’s amusing to watch these power grabbing, power broking, power greedy MLAs appearing on camera and extolling the virtues of how they saved the State when the truth is very much amongst us. And the government, is not exactly for Goem nor of Goenkars and lacking in Goenkarponn.
A new government that will be speaking many languages like the Tower of Babel but making no sense to Goa. Only serving its own selfish self.