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Together, we can

16 Sep 2018 05:00am IST
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16 Sep 2018 05:00am IST

By James Monteiro

s a student of high school I was introduced to a subject called Civics. It taught me that in order to run a state/country we needed something called governance. This could come in various forms but we Indians had a parliamentary form of democracy. We would elect the person we considered most eligible to represent us and it was this representative’s responsibility to ensure that his constituency’s needs and development are nurtured by strictly adhering to the rule of law in letter and in spirit. If the elected representative went on to be a minister, the whole state was his constituency and he would be equally focused all over the state.  In other words legislators were people doing service to society. Period. We were taught that every state has a police force solely to ensure the rule of law. Further, we were taught that to assist the Legislature there was the Bureaucracy to facilitate the daily running of the state and implement the rules and laws laid down by the Legislature. The police and the bureaucracy formed the backbone of implementation of governance and were directly responsible for the detection and punishment of crime. We were also told that ultimately there was a judicial arm that passed a final judgment on disputes in the state and the actions of the government.                                      Back then we did not really understand all this jargon but in our growing years we saw how democracy was actually being played out in our daily lives. As a young teenager I wondered why that pot-bellied uncle came to meet my parents, pressed a pamphlet showcasing his achievements in their hand and some brightly colored balloons in mine. Little did I realize thenthat this fellow wanted to do social service to the state and the balloons in my fist was the “bribe” for my parents’ votes. (Neither did I know then that 2 score  and five years later these balloons would be replaced by Gandhi faces, pink notes, saris, TVs, bikes, chicken, booze and some things that cannot be printed here). Gradually we saw our democracy degenerating more and more as more and more degenerates laid siege to our electoral system.True, the founding fathers of our Constitution must not have envisaged the breed of rascals and scoundrels that would finally “take over”our polity. Today they must be turning in their graves. Not in their wildest dreams could they have imagined that the same authorities that were given the powers to detect, curb and punish crime, under the constitution would themselves turn out to be the biggest criminals. Little wonder then that the law abiding citizen avoids these authorities like the plague. 

So what do we have today? The highest investigative agency in our country is branded “a caged parrot” by none other than the apex court. A police inspector of Goa is castigated by the high court, for filing cases against an activist at the behest of the politicians in power. The words used by the court are so damning that anyone with an ounce of self- respect would have quit the police and taken sanyas. But not our thick-skinned cops. Which plainly means that if you commit a crime but are close to the powers that be no one will touch you. If at all under public pressure you are booked, you will be exonerated forlack of evidence (intentional shoddy investigation). Conversely, if you are not involved in any crime but are a thorn in the side of the powers that be, you may be booked under any law and caged at Colvale with the connivance of the caged parrots. And just yesterday, the High court has ruled that in spite of the government of our state being fully aware of the illegal sand mining going on, it is turning a Nelson’s eye just to safeguard their vote-bank. And even an imbecile knows where  the matka dens are (where our men in khaki are often seen placing bets) but our cops cannot find them in spite of the courts repeatedly admonishing them over and over again for doing precious little. And nothing is being heard of the office bearer of the “party with a difference” from whose premises a large haul of sophisticated drugs were seized. But arrest of piddlypedlars of ganja are prominently reported in the press.  And what about the legislators who went on a pleasure jaunt forthe FIFA world Cup at our cost in the erstwhile government and agreed to repay only after a huge public outcry? Has the monies been recovered? Is this yet another case of “no scam but attempt to scam” Mr. Chief Minister? The same familiar words you used to give a clean chit to that turncoat from Dabolim after he joined you but was the most corrupt legislator (your words) when in opposition.I could go on and on about the land sharks, the builder mafia, the potholes with a little road in them, the blatant corruption in PDAs  (pronounced PIDA), the first of its kind state running with a sick CM physically overseas, sick ministers, warring ministers, ex CM blaming ex ex CM for the gross irregularities in renewing mining leases to favor the mining lobby, etc. etc. etc.But space being the constraint I will keep it for another day.

And the formalin issue. Everyone knows that this fish mafia has existed in Goa for a long time under the auspices of local politicians especially in Salcette, where people vouch that some politicians are not only hand in glove with the mafia but are partners in crime. Although the criminal elements with vested interest may have known about the use of formalin in our fish, the common man was taken completely unawares when this formalin issue surfaced. Imagine how much formalin must have been ingested by our unsuspecting fish loving Goans over the years! Shouldn’t the axe have fallen immediately on the fish mafia? Who protected it? After a complete fiasco on the issue, with ministers shooting their mouths off in various directions and going for each other’s jugular all in the process of protecting the culprits, fish imports were temporarily banned. Our CM proudly boasted in the Assembly that all preventive and precautionary steps were taken and there was nothing for Goans to be afraid of in their fish, all with an air of arrogance and I-know-it-all attitude, belittling and mocking at a feeble opposition. This was followed by the Health Minister giving us a lengthy discourse on how FDA officials would be placed at all borders equipped with detection kits. We were told that all fish vehicles entering Goa would be registered with the FDA and non- registered vehicles will not be allowed entry, after restarting imports. Sting operations conducted at the border and as seen by the public confirmed the nagging doubt that this checking was a farce in tokenism and that the probability of formalin laced fish still entering Goa was very high. What’s more it was seen that a month after restarting fish imports, not a single truck was registered with the FDA and all trucks were merrily entering and exiting the state. The sad state of affairs is that the FDA does not have the required staff for this exercise and to cover up their faults all we get from the minister is tongue. And now they have stopped all border checks and are planning on random checking raids. Have you ever seen the RTO standing at random on some street and waiting to book traffic offenders, believing that this will enforce adherence to traffic rules? And have you seen the number of people who ride without helmetszig- zagging in crowded streets and riding as if their tail is on fire?That’s because they realize that the probability of getting booked is very less in this random checking. Had there been a permanent RTO on the roads, adherence to traffic rules would have automatically ensued. The same holds true in the case of these random formalin checks. In the meantime imagine the hapless Goanwho believes in these glibmonsters, devours into his fish, blissfully unaware and unsuspecting that he is consuming poison. The cheek of these guys to play with our health and life! How dare they? And what is our opposition doing? If rumor mills are to be believed almost all the legislators of the main opposition are ready to switch loyalties as the Damocles sword is precariouslydangling above their heads for all their past and present sins of commission and omission. Their feeble and docile attitude, both within the assembly and outside, tells every Goan the story that they do not have the fire in the belly and are playing along with the government to save themselves the blushes.Knowing the history of this party in Goa one needn’t be too surprised if one gets up one fine morning and learns that all the legislators of this party have defected and jumped across all for their selfish interests. As usual they are a disjointed family with old grandfathers who riddled their erstwhile governments with corruption and brought the party to its present pathetic state, still aspiring for action and expecting Goans to believe that we will reach a new heady high with the same old putrid wine in a new bottle. Are Goans fools?The way we vote it is obvious that some of us are, but the state as a whole can easily understand the true picture. So who do we vote for?

It’s a pity that thus far we were in this dilemma. We had to choose between the devil and the deep sea. Let me rephrase that. We had to choose between two huge devils. And our electorate just seemed to go into a tizzy during elections. A sort of hypnotic spell. They seem to forget the basic reason for elections. Some will vote only on the basis of caste and creed. Others will vote depending on how many freebies they receive. Yet others vote depending on the quantum of booze and money they are given. Everywhere the same refrain. “These guys are all rogues. Whoever wins will be looting and amassing wealth in the next 5 years. Now is our only chance”

Times have now changed. We have decent people now entering the electoral fray. People with proven integrity, honesty and a desire to change the direction Goa has taken on the road to hell. Electing these people is the need of the hour. We have to dump and discard the old rotten formalin injected fish and choose fresh fish. And this fresh fish is now available in the form of decent individuals aspiring to bring about a change.

Need I say more?

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