Herald: Is it mockery or democracy in Goa?

Is it mockery or democracy in Goa?

24 Mar 2019 06:14am IST

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24 Mar 2019 06:14am IST

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In the aftermath of the government formation in Goa, MARIAN PINHEIRO, writes on the game of power mongering that was played out, which was all for the satisfaction of personal egos, personal desires and greed for quick and fast personal wealth

India embraced democracy, willingly post the colonial rule because that is the only system of governance wherein people and their welfare are the most predominant concern. The famous words of Abraham Lincoln ”For the people…….” is the resounding motto in any democracy.

But in Goa, especially among the elected representatives, “for the people…” seems to be the least of their concern. Now it is all a game of power mongering, all for satisfaction of personal egos, personal desire and greed for quick and fast personal wealth. Democracy and democratic principles are quickly discarded once they are elected. 

The death of Late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar in recent days brought to the fore, this game of power mongering and the actors involved in such power mongering.

The selection of the new chief Minster was anything but democratic. The midnight drama and the selection of the chief minister by some secret meetings and the selection of the present chief minister makes one realise the sinister designs and the dangers of survival of any kind of democratic value and fairness in Goa.

The worst of it, is the new dispensation of two deputy chief ministers in a tiny State consisting of just over 1.5 million beings and a land area of 3,702 square km.

At this point of time one is reminded of two incidents in Goa which makes all these exercises of deputy chief ministers and minister’s rather a farce and just euphemisms.

Back in 1998, that is from April 1998 to November 1999, Goa had a Military General as Governor, war hero Lt Gen J F R Jacob (Rtd), during his governorship for 120 days ie 9th February 1999 to 9th June 1999 there was President’s rule in Goa. For those who were then living in Goa, those were the days of the best administration. The entire government administrative machinery ran so smoothly and so efficiently and promptly that common people could feel the effect of such smooth administration. Lt Gen J F R Jacob did nothing except that he attended to his duties as he should. He did not run around with a whip to punish the errant public servants, he just did what he was supposed to do, as per law and there was peace and order all around. Mind you, just one individual doing things strictly as per law made a world of difference for the common man and the State 

The second incident is nearer in time. The late chief minister Manohar Parrikar had been ailing for more than a year before his demise on March 17. Though the nature of the ailment was kept a secret, the reports and news reviews reveal that he was suffering from the dreaded decease of cancer and that too a most debilitating and painful type of pancreatic cancer, but yet he functioned for more than a year with these ailments. Though the government and ruling party officials attempted to create a picture of him carrying on his normal duties considering the nature of ailment the debilitating pain and accompanying issues, one could imagine that most of these government postures were far from reality. But yet the government functioned almost without a Chief Minister. 

Now Goans are thrust with not only a young and energetic chief minister but two deputy chief ministers as well. The message seems to be the new chief minister is not strong and experienced enough so there are deputies, not just one but two.

The Constitution (Art163) does not provide for deputy chief ministers, nor are there any designated specific functions, privileges for deputy chief ministers. Nor can the deputy chief minster can act as chief minister in the latter’s absence. Goa has already witnessed one such case in late Adv Francis D’Sousa. The only benefit he got for holding deputy chief minister’s post was a State funeral and a State holiday after his demise. Except for satisfying personal egos there is absolutely nothing that goes with the title of deputy chief minister. Then, why impose such falsity on the people of Goa, considering Goa, is such a small State and even having a full strength of council of ministers is such a burden on the exchequer? Not that there have not been deputy chief ministers in other States, there have been but should Goa follow the same foolishness to satisfy someones egos?

Look at it the other way, soon after the news of demise of former chief minister, there had been hectic meetings, conclaves, hard bargains. Coming and going of central ministers and so much of active rumour mill spinning out so many permutations and combinations in the social media, that it felt that anyone from the ruling party/supporting MLAs could become chief minister so much so that there was some unconfirmed news that one of the opposition leader is also willing to change sides if made chief minister.

So much for democracy in Goa, no procedures, no systems, all suspense as to when the high command will decide and who they will decide on as chief ministerial candidate, all this happening even with the mortal remains of Parrikar yet to be consigned to the flames. The concern seemed to be not about paying due respect to a departed leader but who will be the next chief minister.

Goans by and large are certainly not happy with arrangement of power bargain. Considering that the present Assembly has just 36 months left (if it goes through the full term) it would have been much better if a system of rotating chief ministership is evolved, wherein each of the supporting MLAs could be chief minister for two months then he hands over the baton for the next in turn and so on. Such arrangement would have been perfectly within the constitutional framework rather than having two deputy chief ministers, which is not at all as per the Constitution (Article 163 & 164)

In this manner all of them could have fulfilled their ardent desire to be chief minister of Goa some time and whenever their demise takes place a State funeral and State mourning would be assured, but more than anything else, there would have been an equitable sharing of booty. There would have been an end to corruption in Goa as no one would be sure, as to whom to bribe and whom to please. Goa would have had corruption free governance for the next 36 months. The internal competition between the chief ministers, to outsmart the other in administration, would have benefitted the people of Goa. As long as in a democracy if the central concern is not ‘the people’ then it is a mockery of democracy.

(The writer is a Professor of Law)
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