Time to discourage ‘corrupt’ women

By Sandesh Prabhudesai
16 March 2010 00:13 IST

Only 7 women MLAs in 49 years.

Elected 14 times, in 9 out of 11 Assemblies, till date.

Quite a discouraging scene in the so called educated Goa. Why has Goan politics always remained male-dominated? Is it because women have been shying away from politics? Or is it because they never felt encouraged to participate in active politics?

The questions become pertinent today, in the background of the women's reservation bill becoming an ultimate reality. The 33 per cent reservation will bring 14 women MLAs in the next elections, in one lot.

14 representations for women in 11 elections; and 14 women together in just one election.

It would be a real wonder to witness! Unlike the dark history of Goan politics.

Tai - Shashikala Kakodkar - has been the sole longest serving woman legislator till date. She even served as the chief minister.

Bhausaheb Bandodkar, Goa's first chief minister and her father, died on 12 August 1973, while in office. She completed Bhau's remaining term of three years and 10 months.

Later, she even succeeded in bringing her Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party back to power in 1977, in the post-emergency era. But she was not allowed to rule for more than one year and 10 months. The President's rule was imposed and Tai was thrown out of politics, for almost two more terms.

The two consecutive Assemblies, elected in 1980 and 1984, did not have a single woman MLA. They were fully dominated by men. Then chief minister Pratapsingh Rane (Congress) nominated three women MLAs - Sulochana Katkar, Philis Faria and Sangita Parab. The then union territory had a provision to appoint unrepresented section.

Shashikala-tai got re-elected in 1989 election and even became the education minister, but for only eight months, in two of the seven governments formed in those five most shameful years of Goan politics.

She came back as the MLA for one more term, in 1994, but not in power.

One question still haunts me. Bhau was quite progressive in nature. He brought one of his intelligent daughter into politics. But why did he fail to bring any other woman into politics?

Tai is the only woman chief minister Goa had. But she sat on the throne, but little as the self-made woman and more as Bhau's daughter.

She made it for the second time, but the male-dominated Assembly did not allow her to continue.

In fact, I have heard quite a lot of disgraceful stories of how some of the senior politicians, who were even ministers, have humiliated her in the House on several occasions.

In fact, there was another woman, who had entered Goa Assembly much before Tai. Urminda Lima Leitao. She died last month. Quite a nice woman, hailing from a mine owner's family in Vasco.

Whether Urminda or Shashikala, both of them belonged to the mining Houses.

I have heard quite an interesting story behind Urminda's sole victory in Vasco. It seems the undisputed leader of the city at that time was Gerald Pereira, the most powerful yet a simple trade union leader Goa has ever seen. He was fielded by the port workers and was loved by each and every one from the working class dominated port town. It was a foregone truth that Comrade Gerald would win with thumping majority.

But it was a shock for everybody. Comrade lost and a Mine Owner woman won...

Some people say the Church played a crucial role in turning the votes overnight, because he was a Communist and a staunch non-believer. Some more claim that it was a Portuguese newspaper that played a crucial role in defeating him.

Whatever may be the real version, but this was the way the first lady legislator of Goa was elected....

Comparatively, the real courageous woman was Victoria Fernandes, known more popularly as Mummy. She grew up through social movements; may it be the Opinion Poll campaign of 1966, farmers' and toddy tappers' movements of ‘70s or Konkani movement of 1986...

It was quite a long drawn out political battle for her to reach the Assembly in 1994. That too as an independent MLA.

The first lady to reach the Assembly INDEPENDENTLY, without even the party crutches.

Since then, she stands as a sole pillar till date, winning three more consecutive elections as the Congress candidate.

She is however proved to be no different from other male politicians. She jumped parties shamelessly to become a minister and even got defamed for protecting her son's alleged anti-social activities.

Now, we hear, she is promoting her son to be her successor. A Maa-BetA legacy...

In spite of this, I would say, 33 per cent reservation is a good news.

Because Goa has also seen quite a few MLAs, who did not have successful Fathers or Houses behind them.

May it be Nirmala Sawant (1999), Sangita Parab (1994) or Fatima D'Sa (1994). May be except Sangita's husband Gopal Parab, who was a local politician, Nirmala and Fatima's husbands are far away from active politics. Still, their wives have been active politicians for quite a long time.

Farrel Furtado was in fact grew up through students' movement and then in the Youth Congress,  to become the MLA in 1989. Her career was however quite shameful, the way she behaved as a greedy chairperson of the Economic Development Corporation.

But unlike in the past, the 73rd and 74th amendment to the Constitution has prepared a firm ground. Women's power is slowly emerging through panchayat, Zilla panchayat and municipal elections.

However, there are many questions, which need to be answered by the women, through practical actions.

If the bill becomes an act, women would be able to serve only one term from the reserved constituency and not permanently as a matter of right. It would then move to another constituency, in rotation.

In such a situation, would she serve as an independent woman or as a biwi-beti -- a stop-gap arrangement for one term?

No doubt woman has always been an efficient manager. But would she be able to overscore the male hegemony and emerge as a much efficient and clean politician than man?

I fear it may not happen when I hear minister's politically ambitious daughters sitting personally to collect the commissions, while charging her own VAT on underhand collections.

Will she be able to bring down the grade of corruption, the goondagiri, the muscle power and the money power politics?  

Will she be able to dilute the communal politics corroding our socio-cultural fabric? Or will a new communal ‘Ranragini' emerge to burn down our most precious communal harmony and brotherhood (or sisterhood) to ashes?  

The challenge lies before... not only the women of Goa... but, ALL of us!

Will WE?

Blogger's Profile

Sandesh Prabhudesai

Sandesh Prabhudesai is a journalist, presently the Editor of goanews.com, Goa's oldest exclusive news website since 1996. He has earlier worked as the Editor-in-Chief of HCN and Prudent, Goa's TV channels and Editor of Sunaparant, besides working as a reporter for Goan and national dailies & weeklies in English and Marathi since 1987. He also reports for the BBC. He is also actively involved in literary and cultural activities.

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Previous Comments

heading talks about discouraging corrupt women, article talks of only one (commission daughter). there are plenty. believe me not less than 33%. but certainly less than man in %age

- vasudev pagi, cancon | 27 th July 2010 19:31

 

Dear Jose Cunha, I forgot to mention to you in my earlier comment That I am always and ever ready for a non corrupt Goa and you can send me the links becasue I hate corruption, corrupt practices and all that is wrong,. You must have seen my writings here in the comments section of this news line. I am not afraid of anybody. Menino

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes(Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 06 th April 2010 21:33

 

Sorry Jose Cunha - I missed your point. Well my previous point stands cancelled. I have no discrimination between any religions and have friends from all the circles in Goa. My apologies once again for misunderstanding - Menino (Valpoi)

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 06 th April 2010 11:45

 

Menino, You have missed the point and not talking to the point, but on the point. This is not a personal... I have nothing to do with you or with your family. I respect every Family. Why do you say that the lady is one hundred percent not catholic ? Are all catholics pure and clean?

When one bribes the other, he or she is part of the problem.

I have never bribed anyone and has reported people to their superiors. If you dare I will send you links for a corruption free world. Are you ready for a Corruption Free World campaign? Let me know if I can be of any help at your earliest.

- Jose Cunha, GOA(UK) | 06 th April 2010 01:38

 

Jose Cunha (Goa/UK) may I please ask you what link does my having wife, son brother, sister, aunty etc has got to do with the situation that I have commented below? Or are you just trying to say something that has relation to you? Is any of your aunty or sister working in birth registrar? But I am hundred percent sure that the lady who took the money from me is not a catholic and so the question of your relatives being attacked by me does not arise that you ask me such a question. There is no link in what I have written and what you have asked me. You mean to say that for survival they are not paid salary at the end of the month that they have to survive on our additional money? Really Jose, frankly speaking I do not understand what you are really trying to tell me. If you wish you can meet me personally and tell me what WRONG I have written other than some hard and real facts. I can tell you about many corrupt ladies in the government sector and in politics. Please do not write something out of way, get yourself clarified and write. Read carefully what I have written before asking any questions. Thanks – Menino (Valpoi)

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (ValpoiUK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 05 th April 2010 20:32

 

Menino are u married ? Have wife, daughter, sister, aunty, brother,son... Do u have friends ? What is survival ?

- Jose Cunha, GOA(UK) | 04 th April 2010 05:13

 

The cancer of corruption will continue to grow till the society looks down on people amassing money through corrupt deals! The purpose of women's bill will be defeated when the men use women as puppets or as a stop gap arrangement, making them pawns and manipulating behind curtains!

Already there are many women who have been brought in politics by their husbands, fathers, mothers and brothers. The list is exhaustive!

- Vishwas Prabhudesai, loliem | 22 nd March 2010 14:20

 

Anybody who wants to know about Corrupt Women, then please go for some processing of documents in SGPDA Technical Department - Margao - Near Kadamba Bus Stand, The lady sitting next to Mr. Naik and Mr. Paul - We need such type of employees in this departments for simply HOLDING Files of people back by always telling them " FILE Dadlia punn azun Sir-aan Sign korunk Na... Fudlea weekant paut mar ani podoi" Actually the TRUTH is that the File is already signed and approved more than a month back and is in her Possession, WHY???

- Joe Ganja, Overseas | 22 nd March 2010 10:37

 

Both comments have pointed out stark picture of a woman as a politician. I fully agree with them. For additional material interested may refer to panchayats and even some municipalities where mayor's chair has become focus of a game of musical chair

- Kalidas Sawkar, Goa-India | 21 st March 2010 12:53

 

I am for 50 percent reservation for women, but what about their participation in actual decision making ? Are Goan (Indian) women ready to take responsibility and accountability in politics ? Or existing politicians will use their wives and daughters as dummy to do there political business (In some cases to collect commission)? At present we see this is happening at Village panchayat level. Are political parties are ready to empower and motivate women to take part in politics?

About corruption , today politics is business

and only qualification required to enter politics is money and our system is corrupted by the politicians and its win-win situation for all .

- Sanjay p Sawant Dessai, Curchorem Goa | 19 th March 2010 21:21

 

Dear Sandesh, let me tell you frankly that women are not far behind in corruption. Don't think that if they do come in power they will wipe out corruption or they would rule better than their male counterpart. Gone are the days when you could get clean administration and non-corrupt women in Goa.

Let me highlight one small incident that happened to me under the so called WOMEN jurisdiction. I had gone to get one certificate for processing my Portuguese Nationality at the Junta House birth registrar and one report was required from them. It was requested by the Portuguese Consulate. When I met this lady who was incharge or the clerk with this particular responsibility. She tried to delay my report and when I pleaded to do the report urgently, she asked me for Rs. 50/- and after that the report was promptly issued within 10 minutes. Our Goan women have reached so far. And now that women's bill has been passed The Almighty God alone knows what they will do slowly but surely. Oh Lord Save Goa and protect the Goans - Menino (Valpoi)

- Menino G. P. T. Fernandes (Valpoi/UK), United Kingdom of Great Britain | 16 th March 2010 02:48

 

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