The Moral Minority

By Ashwin Tombat
17 March 2017 23:45 IST

Those who are outraged and furious at the recent turn of events following the election results in Goa seem to forget the 'bad old days'. In the 10 years from 1990 to 2000, Goa's government changed no less than 15 times. In the 17 years since we have had only eight CMs; and this includes Mr Manohar Parriker's departure, his replacement, and his 'triumphant' return.

There are elections and elections. In most, the people succumb to the usual bait that politicians throw at them. But there are elections in which they vent their outrage through the ballot box. It seems the Goan people already spent their spleen in 2012, when they reduced the Congress to single digits and gave the state its first clear majority in two decades.

This time, material gain rules the roost. Everyone wants only the loaves and fishes of office. No one wants to sit in the opposition. Those who are in government, as well as those who are shouting about a stolen mandate; both are basically interested only in the great gains that come with great power.

I sometimes wonder if they know about those other loaves and fishes; the ones that Jesus blessed as he commanded his disciples to distribute just five loaves and two fishes among the thousands who had gathered to hear Him speak. And what happened then? After everyone had eaten and was satisfied, twelve baskets of food remained...

Fractured mandates and post-poll contortions are not new. Nor is perverting the people's mandate. It's just that the last time it happened at this scale was over a decade ago, in 2005, when the master manipulator Mr Manohar Parrikar was out-manoeuvred by one Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco. Following which the then Governor S C Jamir — appointed by the then Congress government at the Centre — acted more or less in the same manner as the BJP-appointed Governor Mridula Sinha did this time.  

It's what all politicians do, but more so Goan politicians. They have been at the cutting edge of subverting every rule and law enacted to curb post-electoral malpractices. Whether it was getting around the old 'one-third' anti-defection law by mass defection (including the Assembly Speaker) or its 'two-thirds' successor — by resigning and seeking re-election, as Rane Jr has done — or whether it was Goa's Assembly Speakers experimenting with how tightly they can twist the rules of disqualification from the assembly; over the years, Goan politicians have been at the forefront of testing the very outer limits of electoral law in India.

There are so many other interesting things about this election. The BJP has more Catholic MLAs than Hindu MLAs (which Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardessai, interestingly, cites as justification for his Great Leap Backward). Is this because of the Subhash Velingkar-led Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM)? Nearly all their candidates got only a few hundred votes, but did the Manch go in for tactical voting; backing the candidate most likely to defeat the BJP?

The Aam Admi Party (AAP) spectacularly crashed out. All but one of their candidates forfeited their deposits (for having failed to get one-sixth or 16.66 per cent of the votes cast). This home-grown party was abruptly taken over by leaders from New Delhi a few months before the election, causing a general impression among the public that it was a 'high command' outfit, much like its rivals. Did this cause its sorry downfall?

Why wring one's hands at the immorality of our political representatives? Instead, look ahead. There's every chance that the next assembly election will be held in 2019, if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet project — of bringing a law that elections to all state assemblies and parliament are held together every five years — comes to fruition. The next election might be much sooner than we think. Let's plan for it today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

Blogger's Profile

Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.

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Good analysis.

- Jagat, Goa | 28 th March 2017 15:44


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