Election mode

By Radharao Gracias
24 February 2012 13:04 IST

No rallies; elections have for once ceased to be a carnival in Goa. No parade; carnival too has for once ceased in Goa albeit for tragic reasons.

Football is the most popular game in Goa. There are twenty two players, one referee two assistant referees, on the field and thirty thousand spectators, in the stadium. The players are selected from among only those, able to play the game. The quality of game you watch, is determined by the quality of teams at play. The spectators are in the stadium, because they cannot play the game. They are there to cheer or jeer the sides they respectively support or oppose. The spectators scream or shout at every miss or mistake on the field, not realizing, that they are in the stadium because they can do no better.  

Elections are so much like football. There are only a few contestants, selected from among those able to contest. The vast majority are the voters on the periphery supporting or opposing rival candidates. They are not contesting because they are not fit to do so. The type of government you get is determined by the quality of candidates who contest. If you do not get a good government, it is because there are no candidates, better than those who are contesting. Hence, the shouts and screams, before or after elections serve no purpose.

We seem to have progressed (or regressed) from a multi-party to a multi- family democracy, which is now the cause of much heated discussion. The question is, should family members of politicians contest elections? The law rightly does not debar family members from contesting, since you do not become an MLA because you contest elections. You become an MLA only because the voters have voted for you. And the law gives the voter the right not to vote for you.

It is natural for children to follow in the footsteps of their parents. Nearly every doctor strives to make his son a doctor. If the son is not good enough to get admission on merit, he is admitted to private medical college at huge expense. On the other hand, lawyers are in a much better position. You do not require much merit to secure admission to a law college. Practically, every senior lawyer has his son/daughter in the profession and in most cases the child does not measure up to the parent. However, there is an advantage for the lawyer’s child. He need not know the law. It is enough that his father/mother knows the judge!

And so is the case with politics. The precedent set by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, has become the trend. He, after a brief interregnum, was succeeded by his daughter Indira Gandhi, who had two sons. The younger Sanjay was being groomed, to succeed her, when he tried to be a pilot, and crashlanded. The elder son Rajiv who was a pilot, succeeded his mother, and the country has crashlanded! Today, we are in a very strange situation, where both the Congress and the BJP are propagating the legacy of Nehru and Indira. Rajiv’s widow Sonia and son Rahul, both run the country (or do they not?) and are Congress MPs. Sanjay’s widow Maneka and son Varun are both MPs of the BJP. Who says the BJP is not for family raj?

The Congress having tasted blood with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has now extended the experiment to Goa. It has fielded candidates in twelve constituencies who are members of five families. Effectively, the Congress has thrown a challenge to the voters. Will the voters accept the challenge? Remember, there is no compulsion for the voters, who are free to vote any which way. 

I am mighty glad, that the NGOs which have been active these past few years have finally taken the plunge and joined politics, by fielding honest handpicked candidates. Considering, that our electorate is as honest as the NGOs, (it is only the politician who is dishonest!) their victory, should be a foregone conclusion. Now, that the NGOs have joined politics, will someone tell me who will lead the next apolitical agitation?

I have been an activist for the last three decades and more. I have watched the political scenario in Goa unfold. And I have drawn several conclusions two of which are:

Conclusion No.1 : The MLA reflects the personality of the voter. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Conclusion No.2 : No people get a government better than what they vote for.

These are the honest truths, whether you like or not.

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

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Radharao Gracias

Radharao F.Gracias is a senior Trial Court lawyer and ex President of the South Goa Advocates Association. He is also former independent MLA of Goa. He has been an activist on issues related to Goa for more than three decades.

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It is not illegal, for family members to contest elections.However in a small state like Goa,it is not viewd as appropriate or conducieve, where the Elected parents are more well known for their criminal activity or activities.Moreover many other Party workers / members have worked very hard for their respective Party, in the hope they will someday be selected as a candidate.However it is now known that this is untrue and preference is given to junior family members of current MLA`s.The Alemaos are a case in hand along with the Naiks.Their family members are prefered over long term Block Congress members.

- N.Fernandes, London | 25 th February 2012 01:33


If in business, in art, cinema, trade, even in sports and in social structures and activities families are respected why not in democratic ELECTIONS. They all get elected don't they??? For ex. Feroz Gandhi husband of Indira Gandhi failed to get elected oftener, his ideas were not timely and without support, he was thrown out of politics. Pl stop screaming in the name of family for your own self interests.

The present family members in politics is elected not thrown upon as in dictatorship where they get toppled, Remember Lybia, Iraq, etc.

- Kalidas Laxman, Panaji Goa | 24 th February 2012 18:43


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