Small State, Big Politics

By Prabhakar Timble
28 November 2015 06:02 IST

The bells of 2017 state polls have already started ringing in Goa. Every passing day makes the sound louder with the political parties and aspiring politicians attempting to reposition themselves either to win the race singlehandedly or to align and form alliances to form the magic majority in the forty member state assembly.

Current political status

Being in the driver’s seat should have been a natural advantage for the BJP but it looks that the anti-incumbency factor is operating with the bin filled of unfulfilled promises and U-turns. Other than the impenetrable cadre, a larger chunk of the voter from the majority community embraced the BJP for development and governance. There is dissatisfaction in terms of performance. It looks that this voter is no longer prepared to stay in the current account of the BJP.    The ruling party is also paying the price of parochial vision expounded by the national leaders and the new parliamentarians espousing a communal and undemocratic ideology. The visible activity of the fringe elements owing allegiance to the BJP would also work negatively for the BJP in Goa. It is not only the minority which feels threatened; it is the thinking majority community and the youth holding aspirations which is disturbed with non-issues being made the political agenda of the day with fringe elements engaged in cultural chauvinism and nationalist jingoism.

It cannot be denied that despite the fact that the frontline of the Congress party has passed the expiry date, the party has the potential to muster votes. But, under the present shape it may fail to reach near double digit. The legislature wing of the party is of localized chieftains and has miserably failed to present itself as a cohesive group to perform its duty as opposition or of a party in waiting to take up the reins of office. Though new faces are drafted for political fireworks, it is perceived that the senior leaders have no willingness and ability to take the present ruling government by the horns. There is no doubt that the ideological heritage of the Congress party is the idea of secular and democratic India. This is a leaf to be taken, preserved and fostered. However, the political human heritage of the Congress in Goa needs to be discarded lock, stock and barrel.

The MG party in Goa is reduced to feed the fortunes of two individuals to be accommodated with ministerial office by any political party falling short of numbers to form the government. Similar would be the role of those who steer NCP, GVK et al.  With the Narendra Modi wave giving clean and thumping majority to the BJP in the 2014 general elections and the NaMo-Amit Shah broom sweeping all the political parties like a hurricane, it looked that the BJP is unassailable. None gauged that the saffron and Hindutva paint would peel off so fast. The elections to the state assemblies of Delhi and Bihar kindled hopes of alternative possibilities.

Opportunities & Threats

It is against the above background that an alternative is being explored by three independent legislators in Goa. They are drawing strength from the failures of the present government and the inability of the Congress party to find new and young tailors to stitch the coat for the State. The performance of these three independent legislators in the current assembly provides vigor to the proposed outfit. There is a strong feeling gaining ground that Goa needs a better deal and a political party which can make difference to Goa to achieve regional aspirations.

The going for one more political party for a tiny State cannot be smooth. The first weakness would flow from the public perception of too much politics for too small Goa. Added is the perception that a multi-party contest would throw up a hung assembly, thereby meaning a weak government. The disadvantages could come if the new stream is contaminated with the same old tested or rejected political figures which would be taken with a pinch of salt as old wine in new bottle.

The threats to the proposed outfit have already started. The Congress party is the first to fire the salvo. In the attempt to retain the minority vote bank which the Congress feels is its birth-right the wolf cry that the new party would split the secular vote is set in motion. This may not hold much water as the minority community in Goa mustered courage to reject the Congress in the last assembly elections. Further, the community is not blind to the reality. Holding the Hindu vote as not secular would be the graveyard of the Congress party as no political party can make it first past the post only by appeasing or fomenting fear amongst minorities. There will be also efforts to manufacture stories that the new party is sponsored by the BJP. Such threats are unavoidable and challenges to be met. None other than the BJP will watch this with glee.

Goa’s tragedy

Goa is plagued by the issues such as medium of instruction (to be precise, it is not MoI, it is government grants at primary level of education); airport at Mopa, special status for the State, language/script which divide people and communities, providing cheeky relief to politicians to divide and rule. This is yet another challenge for the new party to handle and steer Goa to the real issues of development, employment, social harmony and diversity.

In other words, the threats are opportunities for people and politicians who put Goa First and are prepared to learn and negotiate without fanaticism of community, script, language and culture.  Vijay-Rohan-Sawal should refrain from building their image as men-in-hurry and should avoid short cuts for immediate gains. Building a Goa-centric political party demands that their thinking goes beyond their constituency forts.

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

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

Very precise analysis.

- Naguesh Rao Sardessai, Panaji | 28 th November 2015 18:22


Quite an unbiased summary of the Goan Political scenario.

- Vinay Pai Kane, Margao | 28 th November 2015 13:36


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