31 Jul 2022  |   08:42am IST

Only if our MPs had spoken, Goan voices would have been heard… ... and anti-people decisions would have been kept at bay

Luizinho Faleiro’s Rajya Sabha question on the status of the politically inspired villa construction in Old Goa has given fresh impetus to the Save Old Goa Heritage Action Committee to protect Goa’s Heritage
Only if our MPs had spoken, Goan voices would have been heard… ... and anti-people decisions would have been kept at bay

If Goan MPs do not talk, how will Goan issues be discussed in Parliament, so that the Government is duty bound to either make its stand clear on an issue or outline a course of action? This is Parliament, after all, the highest court of the people.

We hold our MLAs accountable, our political parties accountable. Why shouldn’t we make out MPs accountable? We have two Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha MP from Goa and with Luizinho Faleiro we have four Goan MPs across both Houses, the other three being Francisco Sardinha (Congress) Shripad Naik (BJP), and Vinay Tendulkar (BJP). Sardinha has been MP four times (one through bypoll). He has decades of legislative experience in the Assembly has been a former Chief Minister.

Goa wants to know and take into account how many times he has red-flagged Goan issues of importance or made a serious legislative impact or spoken out against any Act and legislation which will be harmful to Goan interests.

Shripad Naik has been a five-time MP across a time span of 23 years and a Minister across most of this stint. He has been the minister for Shipping, Agriculture, Civil Aviation, Finance, Tourism, Defence, AYUSH, and now Shipping and Ports again, albeit always as Minister of State. His is by far the longest Goan presence in parliament. But has it been the strongest? Far from it.

But that begs the question. What will be his footprints in the sands of time?

Vinay Tendulkar has been the State president of the BJP and an MP for five years. The sea of silence has engulfed him and literally blacked out the voice of the Goans, whom he has been chosen to represent.

Public representatives who represent Goa in the highest temple of democracy have to combine will temperament and talent, to speak for the people who represent them. When this combination is absent, the right words will never be spoken in defence of the people.

Luizinho Faleiro has broken the glass ceiling of silence and spoken for Goans.

In his short stint so far across two sessions, Faleiro has broken the silence barrier of Goan MPs having first raised the Major Ports Bill which finally culminated to what Faleiro called the “draconian” Major Ports Authority Act. 

In his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha, during Zero Hour, these words were heard for the first and only time spoken by a Goan in parliament “Goa is a tourist destination, not a coal destination.” And he demanded Major Ports Authority Act to be repealed.

He also spoke these words, never uttered by any Goan MP before “Implementation of three linear projects, expansion of the national highway and nationalisation of rivers, power transmission through wildlife sanctuaries, threatens Goa’s ecology and natural heritage.

And in the current session, he asked one pointed question about the status of action taken against the illegal bungalow being constructed in the Old Goa Heritage precincts, thereby eliciting a clear reply by the Union of India that the construction of the villa (backed by political bigwigs of the highest order) was in violation of the Monuments and Archaeological Sites Act. A Rajya Sabha reply by the Government has the strength and sanctity of the highest order giving no room for the State government to view the construction as anything but illegal.

One should again come back to our MPs, who lead comfortable happy lives, not quite there in there to feel the heat of issues. Do they feel the pain of the people and see how greed is eating away at our Goa?

Goa’s demand for Special Status is acutely being felt now because the system and rules otherwise in existence, give no protection to Goa with limited land resources. In 2014 the Prime Minister promised Goa special status right here in Goa. Has any MP even raised in parliament that there is an Assembly Resolution passed by all parties on Special Status for Goa and it should be discussed in Parliament.

SILENCE IS NOT A FLAW, IT’S A FAILURE

This commentary is devoid of any (and shouldn’t be) personal criticism of the MPs but a lament that their silence has become a lost opportunity for some many Goans to raise what is important to Goans collectively. And in this hollow space of despondency, Faleiro’s questioning and raising of issues has come as thunder shower in the middle of a long period of drought.

And just imagine there were people including holy men, who literally ran a campaign against him and chose to back those forces who are betraying Goa every second. These men of faith and their political cronies backed so-called leaders whose sacred pledges before Gods are not sacred. These pledge makers were literally caught trying to make political long jumps while reciting the loyalty mantra.

And they spoke out against a man who is fighting for Goans in the sanctum sanctorum of democracy- the Parliament. But one shouldn’t be surprised. India is a land where even Mahatma Gandhi was eliminated for winning with his nonviolent narrative. Political elimination or at least an attempt is nothing short of that. But when you have people with you, those attempts can never be successful.

Those who have seen the Congress’ absolute slide into its nadir for the second time, are turning back to the 2017 results, where in reality, the Congress and the supporting MLAs strength would have stood at 23 plus. People would have seen the victory of the Congress then. Wisdom would have prevailed, under the leadership of the wise. This is needed to be repeated and again by going back to the previous election held more than five years ago, because people in Goa say, “There is no opposition.” It’s important to remind people why there is no opposition. Because the opposition Congress threw out one man who would have consolidated the opposition to make it the ruling force in Goa.

In the meanwhile, people are slowly giving up and losing trust. When the State is sold, when greed dictates everything, when elections have become a transaction and a big business project the faith in people’s representatives is at an all-time low, as the events of the last three weeks have further shown.

Who will talk for the people?

The Goan people’s voice is no longer echoing the way it should in the Assembly and in Parliament. Faleiro’s words and questions have given hope, and many said so after his question and reply on the Old Goa illegal bill construction issue. But this isn’t about him alone. This is about getting talent, truth efficiency, and wisdom on the floor of all Houses. Because democracy is all about the representation of people’s will. Here you need sharpness of mind and the zeal and talent to carry the weight of expectations of lakhs and lakhs of people.


IDhar UDHAR

IDHAR UDHAR