05 Jun 2024  |   07:49am IST

When people feel let down, they show the power of their finger

South Goa was a grand show of people power, a victory of the people’s voice and their crying need to have this voice resonate in Parliament
When people feel let down, they show the power  of their finger

Captain Viriato Fernandes got the winner’s certificate on behalf of his party the Congress, and as a representative of the INDIA Bloc in South Goa.

But what he saw and  was the real winner standing on the podium, humbly accepting a result, the people, who showed the power of their finger.

Captain Viriato received more than a certificate of victory to Parliament. 

It was a certificate of Justice.

It was a certificate of beating a beast, called defections.

It was a certificate against the misuse of the word development to hide greed and personal development as a sole motive of betraying the people's mandate. On that certificate written in golden letters are these figures from three constituencies where non-BJP votes made two Congress MLAs in Nuvem and Margao and one Independent MLA in Curtorim win in 2022. Two of these subsequently defected to the  BJP and the Independent MLA extended his support to the ruling party, leaving their voters high and dry.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections: 

In Curtorim: Congress led by 9,000 plus votes.

In Nuvem: Congress led by just short of 10,000 votes.

In Margao: Congress was behind by a mere 86 votes (later revised to 1,323 on the ECI website), the backyard of Digambar Kamat, a result which is as good as a deposit loss for the BJP.

These figures are a political slap to the defectors, by the people proving that while the elected can fall to greed, those who elect, for the sake of Goa, never do.

People responded to the loss of land, opportunities and identity, by electing their voice

 While the numbers will show that the Congress lead of 60,000 plus in Salcete was more than the leads that the BJP could get in the out of Salcete areas, it will be unwise to see this result only as a Salcete-centric one. But that anger of being let down was certainly more palpable because the sense of direct loss, erosion of land and identity, and livelihoods were perhaps felt deeply in Salcete. Captain Fernandes was the vehicle which carried the anger, desperation, hurt and betrayal of those who were at the forefront of struggles, first as a civic activist and then as a political entity.

Struggles like the double-tracking of south western railways, the linear projects, the assault of LED lights on trawlers that suck the fish out of Goan waters, of highway and road expansions that have taken so much land without necessary and adequate compensation, of destructions of fruit-bearing trees and lush fields to the bulldozers of what has been called ‘development’, of unrepaired broken bunds which had to be rebuilt by farmers own hard-earned savings and other stories of pain.

Perhaps the biggest burden that many bore on top of these struggles was unemployment and the drying up of wealth-creating opportunities. Small opportunities for local businesses to get local contracts from the panchayat or the PWD, got dried up even as government jobs were a mirage in the desert. These contracts went to one big fish who cornered all.

People of Goa went into these elections with a sense of being wronged. And made up their minds to use their fingers to get justice.

And their will beat everybody. The so-called ‘RG factor’ was not even a speck of dust pushing it into its irrelevant corner. This people's will beat even those from within the Congress, like conductors who earlier sold tickets, who thankfully did not get one this time, and contributed nothing to the INDIA campaign in South Goa.

 Though Salcete was the man of the match, the role of voters in non-Salcete areas was not miniscule.  Out of 2,15,672 votes the Congress received in South Goa, 1,01,076 (almost 50%) of those votes, were from talukas outside Salcete. In the final analysis, the importance of those votes cannot be underlined enough. Every vote proved to be an additional brick in the wall of resistance to the BJP.

The 7 or 8K plus votes in Ponda and Shiroda, the 12k plus votes in Quepem and even the 6k and 7k votes in Sanvordem and Sanguem where the BJP got about double, and even more is a testament to chunks of grassroots support even in areas where the BJP presence is deep-rooted. These are the new conquest constituencies.

When he takes his seat in Parliament, the former Navy captain, Viriato Fernandes, will realise with all humility and pride, that the Goan ship of justice was steered by the best sailors not in uniform, the protectors of his land, the ordinary people of Goa. 

He will have to be their Captain in the Lok Sabha.


Iddhar Udhar