Ballot is stronger than the bullet
The timely intervention of the High Court has exposed the politically manipulated reservation of Municipal wards that the ruling BJP was malafidely attempting to get away with. The High Court verdict has also exposed the lack of autonomy and independence in the functioning of the State Election Commission (SEC. However the High Court’s deliverance of Justice would be complete only when the officials and politicians responsible for this skewed and slanted reservations are brought to book and penalised.
The High court has rightly stopped this absolute fraud on the very democratic process which if allowed would have been a sheer mockery of the electoral process. It is anguishing that the SEC abdicated in its Constitutional duty and allowed the whole process to be dictated and driven by the politicians in Power.
The SEC is a constitutional authority which has to function truly independent of the powers to be. For the last over four months Goa is without a SEC while the charge has been given to the Law Secretary. How can you expect a bureaucrat who is working under the Government to function impartially as a SEC?.
In other States the delimitation and reservation of Wards is all done by the SEC. Unfortunately in Goa this work for the Municipalities is entrusted to the Director of Municipal Administration and at the Panchayat level to the Director of Panchayats.
It is imperative that delimitation and reservation should both be entrusted to the SEC with proper rules and guidelines framed and that there is no interference from Ministers and ruling MLAs in this process which ought to be totally transparent and extremely fair beyond any doubt.
In a democracy free and fair elections are fundamental. In Goa the SEC conducts the elections to the Zilla Parishad, Municipalities, Panchayats and the Corporation of the City of Panaji.
The appointment of a SEC for Goa must be expedited and should be a person of Eminence who can function very independently without any political influence or interference. There is an urgent need to restore the sanctity and now lacking sanity at the SEC by empowering it with independence and autonomy by having all the safeguards in place to guarantee that it never again does succumb to any political pressures or manoeuvres whatsoever.
It is said that organising free and fair elections is sacrosanct and more important than the result itself. Abraham Lincoln had said “The ballot is stronger than the bullet”. And so should it truly be.
Aires Rodrigues, Ribandar
Karnataka and water sharing
Responding to the SC order, Karnataka have named their joint team member for the inspection of the Kalasa-Bandaru project and called for Goa and Maharashtra to do the same.
Karnataka says they are using the excess water of Madhei. Just 4 days back on Feb 26, they have objected to TN taking up an interlinking project using surplus water from the inter-State Cauvery water saying it would affect the State’s interests! Their contention is that surplus water has not been shared between the States officially or legally and that they would fight the same. This came when Tamil Nadu laid the foundation for Cauvery-Vaigai- Gundar link to utilise surplus Cauvery water.
Now we see Karnataka having two diametrically opposing views depending on which angle they view the same! Clearly, they only 'want' everything as their birth right. Their arguments put forward can help Goa’s case for sure.
R Fernandes, Margao
'State Farm-Fair' to promote local farmers
As one drives along the highway and internal roads, one comes across several local farmers selling their produce by the roadside. These include locally grown vegetables, fruits, grains, pulses, etc. These farmers, many of whom lead a hand-to-mouth existence, have to slog it out in the hot sun as they eagerly wait for customers who are mostly those who are driving along the route.
In the market-place too these local vendors are seen occupying space along the pavement and even by the side of the roads. The government needs to come to the aid of these local farmers by promoting the sale of their produce.
We have food festivals, wine festivals as well as different kinds of fairs organized in the state on a regular basis. Why not have a three-day ‘State Farm-Fair’ where the local farmers from all over the State are given an opportunity to promote and sell the locally grown vegetables, fruits and other produce?
At the fair the local farmers could also work on a tie-up with hotels and restaurants so as to supply them with the produce on a regular basis. This will give a huge boost for local farmers who could be finding it very difficult to find a ready market due to the competition from vendors from other states doing business in the market-place in various cities. The ‘State Farm-Fair’ could be made an annual feature.
Adelmo Fernandes, Vasco
Toothless independent institutions
How often have we read about the threat to democracy during the last 6 years? How is that even possible when we have a Constitution and many institutions that are supposed to exist as checks and balances to abuse of power by the State? If the State Election Commission in Goa expresses helplessness in front of the court it is time for citizens to wake up and smell the rot.
James Madison, a key architect of the US constitution, said” that elected governments could easily become instruments of majoritarian tyranny, or tyranny of powerful vested interests. He noted that true freedom required the primacy of individual rights, which should not be trampled on by temporary elected majorities. Hence he emphasised the need for checks and balances on elected governments, typically through empowered but unelected institutions, to check political actions that might have short-term attractions but carry long-term dangers”.
When the stakes are high during Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections can you imagine the pressure on the election commission?
Can the Election Commission withstand the pressure from a strong muscular govt? Have our elections been compromised? How long before the police, CBI, ED and IT say “we are helpless”? Is this not being manifested in the way that poets, writers, students and comedians are being thrown in jail?
The best way to take control over a people and control them utterly is to take a little of their freedom at a time, to erode rights by a thousand tiny and almost imperceptible reductions.
In this way, the people will not see those rights and freedoms being removed until past the point at which these changes cannot be reversed.
John Stuart Mill says that democracy is government by discussion. “…if you make discussion fearful, you are not going to get a democracy, no matter how you count the votes”.
DC Dias, Taleigao
Law makers are law breakers
What can you call a Government that has scant respect for the law even after being rapped by the High Court for declaring the Municipal elections even when petitions were filed before the High Court?
This clearly shows the malefide intentions of the Goa BJP Government in trying to circumvent the law and hold elections after changing the areas of the wards. This Government is also guilty of forcing unwanted projects on the people when the people have clearly spoken against these projects.
So what can we do to a Government which was elected by the people and is not listening to the will of the people?
Matias Lobo, Tivim