Do you really deserve 'mincemeat' of your verdict?

By Cleofato A Coutinho
07 September 2020 15:09 IST

Elections for the Goa assembly are a year and half away. Ravi Naik’s sons' entry into BJP has brought Goa’s moments of shame back on the table back. In Goa we have politicians, not a single statesman, no state leaders but taluka satraps who try to dominate the state politics due to small numbers required to change political equations. Monseratte in Tiswadi , Ranes in Sattari, Ravi Naik/Sudin Dhavlikar in Ponda claim to protect their turf. Michael Lobo is trying one in Bardez!

Current assembly term saw four rounds of pilgrimage to the party in power but the state with high literacy rate does not see that as an aberration diminishing the very status as a progressive state. To grab power has become the end all of our politicos. It’s no more service, but tool of self-aggrandizement and collection for the next generations.

Goa has rich history of defection taint in destroying governments or saving governments. The contribution of this tiny state to the development of the law on defections is something that does not  make us proud. It is a disgrace to politics and shame to democracy. A  speaker defecting to become the CM, the leader of opposition taking a majority of MLAs to the ruling side to become a Dy. CM may be parliamentary history, but certainly such cases have made mockery of people’s mandate. What can we expect when a CM depends on a moneylender-real estate dealer or a gambling kingpin for survival?

This has gone on for over three decades and when legislators shift side for power, we consider that ‘smart politics’. Currently our state’s smartest politician is Babush Monseratte! If Monseratte was denied the ticket in the bye-elections after the demise of Parrikar, the Congress would have been accused of not understanding politics. Such are our tolerance levels to ‘aya Rams, gaya Rams’. (Gaya Lala was a Haryana legislator who changed sides three times in a fortnight.)

The defections of legislators in Indian Politics may have become the order of the day after the 1967 elections. We got a  had a dose of it  around the same time in the second assembly of  when seven MLAs led by Shiroda MLA  K.B.Naik( the undisputed leader of a dominant   community), revolted  against the leadership of Dayanand Bandodkar (MGP)  to form a new party called Nav Maharashtrawadi  Gomanatak  party. Nobody accused K. B. Naik of corrupt motive as his attempt to topple the Government failed as Bandodkar outsmarted him by splitting  the opposition UGP.

The national malaise of shifting for power and all the ill-gotten that goes with power came to Goa through Shanker Laad, Dayanand Narvenkar and Dilkhush Desai who brought down the Shashilkala Kakodkar  Government in late seventies. The overnight shift of Congress (Urs) to Congress (Indira) provided a decade of stability.  When the party in power at centre and state is the same, the Governor normally manages the state for the ruling party.

From early nineties of the last century we saw no socially committed coming up as legislators. The new breed were primarily involved in self-aggrandizement through deals and contracts. That period also saw Goa becoming a global tourist destination with the state politics being controlled by real estate lobbies for starred hotels and housing complexes for holiday homes. The toppling and formation of governments were to rob Goa of its major asset - its land. How else one justifies the Town and Country Planning Portfolio as bargaining chip ?

It all started in March 1990, when the land mafia saw the lucrative ‘business’ of land conversions. Led by Churchill Alemao, a group of seven quit the Congress to install Alemao as Chief Minister, who is remembered  for honoring  his word of resigning to install Luis Proto Barboza (then speaker) as CM. The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of Barboza giving Radharao an opportunity to become a lifelong ex MLA.

That decade undoubtedly belonged to Dr. Wilfred D’ Souza. Who can forget Dr. Willy becoming CM with the blessing of Ravi Naik group of MGP, despite MGP getting 18 seats and the anti-defection law in place?  Two MLAs Sanjay Bandekar and Chopdekar got disqualified though they did not defy any whip but went with Dr Willy to the Governor. Naik thereafter toppled Dr. Willy’s government but Came back as CM after the Supreme Court verdict. Ravi claimed sick and got admitted to GMC and the SC felt he deserved a fair hearing. Dr. Willy had the last laugh when the Governor Bhanu Prakash Singh was given marching orders for bringing back Ravi Naik without adequate support in the house.

Luizinho Faleiro could not form government in 2017 with 17+1 MLAs and BJP did it with 13. In 1999 with a comfortable majority of 21, Sardinha walked out of Luizinho Faleiro's Congress government to form an alternate government with BJP. Sardinha government could not even complete a year in office after Manohar Parrikar decided to dump him to install himself as CM. By that time a ‘split’ in the anti-defection law was not available.

If Dr. Willy mastered the art of ‘splitting’, Parrikar brought in quitting the house to avoid disqualification. The defection law was circumvented by resigning to contest elections again on a different party. The Parrikar method is called 'Operation Kamala'. Parrikar’s   government which came to power in 2002 lost power to   Rane after his ministers   followed the lesson  of resigning  from BJP to contest on Congress tickets.

Their political escapades have gone unchallenged for too long. Goa had become laughing stock in the country. But the political prostitution is in the name of development of their constituencies.

With Goa becoming a state in 1987 and the number of seats increased to 40 from the earlier 28 (Daman & Diu made it 30), the constituencies became smaller. Smaller constituencies are always better to manipulate at election time. A three-cornered or multiple-cornered contests have played havoc at election time. How a multi-cornered contest works was demonstrated by Dr. Willy in Saligao through a Punaji   Achrekar.

Someone commanding/ capable of purchasing 2500-3000 votes can get a party ticket. If denied, he/she can shift those votes to the other side creating an imbalance in small constituencies. Parties like Save Goa, UGDP (both now  defunct), MGP and now Goa Forward  have added their bit to Goa’s misery, always willing to jump where power lies. To hell with the peoples’ mandate! Our problem is our small numbers in constituencies   and smaller parties shifting sides to reach the magic figure of 21.

A state like Goa cannot afford this taint. ‘People get what they deserve’ goes a old saying. Can Goa redeem its pride and and honour in 2022?

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

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Cleofato A Coutinho

Cleofato Almeida Coutinho is a senior lawyer and one of the constitutional expert in Goa. A member of Law Commission of Goa, he also teaches at Kare College of Law in Madgao.

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Previous Comments

Corrupt people are very scared of Honest AAP and hence they prevent AAP from coming to power and so they say many bad things about AAP to divert Honest Goans mind. Illegal Shops of Corrupt people will be Closed and hence these Corrupt people says bad things about AAP in a innocent ways, so that Honest Goans will get confused and vote these Corrupt Parties again.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 08 th September 2020 16:13

 

ELECTION REFORM IN GOA

Election in Goa should be with BALLOT PAPER and not with EVM.

Re-election of any MLA or MP who joins another party with two third or whole party.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 08 th September 2020 16:11

 

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