No caste politics, please!

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
01 February 2012 00:39 IST

Goa’s electoral politics began on a ‘firm’ ground of casteism and communalism in its first Assembly election of 1963. Congress lost all 30 seats of Goa, Daman and Diu. Most of its candidates were freedom fighters, but incidentally upper caste Brahmins, belonging to both Hindu and Christian communities. Came to power was the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, calling itself the party of Hindu Bahujan Samaj. The opposition was the United Goans Democratic Party, the party of Christian minorities. By 1967 election, the upper caste Brahmins also joined hands with the UGP.

It went on till 1997, when UGP got itself merged with the Congress, winning 10 seats as the opposition. With premature dissolution of the Assembly, 1980 election witnessed even the MGP leaders joining the Congress, while winning 19 seats. Post election, two out of three independents and five out of seven MGP men also joined the Congress. 26 out of 30 were Congress. 87 per cent strong!

Since then, the Congress started ruling, the UGP vanished while the MGP continued to be the main opposition party. The Hindu-Christian politics as well as the Brahmin-Bahujan Samaj politics started withering away. In fact what came strongly to the fore were the community vote banks; Bhandari being the strongest among them, not to fight election but to become the chief minister or get ministerial berths.

Then emerged the Bharatiya Janata Party, as the party of Hindus, with Babri Masjid-Ramjanmabhoomi issue being raked up in 1984. Goa however had to wait for a decade more, till 1994 election, for the BJP to make a debut in Goa Assembly with four MLAs. The dominant politics of Christian minority within the Congress was also the prime cause for BJP’s emergence in Goan politics. But, in spite of sizeable number of Hindu Bahujan Samaj identifying itself with the BJP, the community leaders of Hindus and Christians continued ‘fighting together’ within the Congress.

These 'infightings within' provoked series of rebellions in the Congress since 1990, resulting into alternative governments being formed one after another. One such government was formed in 1990 with the MGP while another one was formed in 2000 with the BJP. Dr Wilfred de Souza also formed one alternate government with BJP’s support from outside, in 1998 and Francisco Sardinha formed another one with the BJP participating in it, in 1999.

But till date, the BJP has not been able to come to power with absolute majority. The maximum number it has achieved is 17 seats in 2002 election. That too dropped to 14 by 2007. By the time its term came to an end, the BJP got shrunk to 12 as two more BJP men joined the Congress. The polarization of religions and communities thus could not happen till date. On the contrary, many Christian leaders have started joining the BJP; of course, to become the candidates and not to embrace its Hindutva ideology!

In fact, the Goa Assembly witnessed a good healthy trend in the last Assembly. Digambar Kamat was the Congress chief minister. Manohar Parrikar was the opposition leader. Sudin Dhawalikar was the MGP leader. Dr Wilfred de Souza was the NCP leader, though not elected. All of them belonged to the upper caste. But none of them were actually ‘seen’ as upper caste leaders; but leaders acceptable to ALL.

The pre-election politics of 2012 – today - however sounds quite fearful. A simple power politics within the BJP, between Manohar Parrikar and Shripad Naik, has brought to the fore the caste politics. BJP leadership may have its own assessment in not allowing Shripad to enter local electoral politics. They may not want Shripad to become the CM; but Parrikar. The cadres are also divided over it, within the BJP. Many prefer humble Shripad to arrogant Parrikar while many more prefer tough Parrikar to soft Shripad.  However, it is definitely not a Brahmin versus Bahujan Samaj issue.

But the power game is unfortunately taking an ugly turn. It is becoming a casteist fight. If it aggravates, it would not only damage the BJP and lose its prospects but would also give birth to the ‘old politics’ of ‘60s and ‘70s - upper caste and Bahujan Samaj. The Congress leaders, for their own selfish gains, had already polarized the society on community lines, though within. The BJP had polarized the Goan society on communal lines with its Hindutva ideology. In addition, this would be yet another polarization, beginning today. If not now, it may get blown up by next election. And, the party that would be blamed for it, would be the BJP...

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

Sandesh Prabhudesai is the Editor of goanews.com. He has been earlier the Editor of Sunaparant (Konkani daily) and Editor-in-Chief of Pruden (TV channel). His collection of selective editorials of Sunaparant has been published as 'Goff'. He writes brief thoughts as EdiThought for goanews.com, but not on regular basis.

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Caste should be resticted upto your own house. Only FOOLs use cast card to get elected and forget the same once got elected.

- Shekhar, Panaji | 02 nd February 2012 11:14

 

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