Goa:  A setback for Progressive Forces

By Cleofato A Coutinho
05 April 2017 21:28 IST

As the fringe went mainstream in Uttar Pradesh, in Goa, the will of the people was subverted by chicanery and backroom manoeuvring providing legitimacy to the BJP in their lust for flying the saffron flag over all the state capitals. Throughout the country, progressive forces are fighting with their back to the wall as ‘development’ laced right forces are out on rampage to destroy pluralism of the country. When Fali Nariman, a topmost legal mind whom I consider  conscious-keeper of the country, says something - we all look up and reflect. A Mahant of Gorakhnath Mutt or Peeth is appointed a chief minister of the largest state. Nariman laments “I see it, we are on the threshold of Hindu state (unconstitutional though it be).” 

What happened in 2017 is only a restatement of 2014. The middle ground taken by the country shifted towards majoritarianism. Now, the country’s agenda  is cow, beef, love jihad all the way in the cow belt and beyond. The consolidation of the basis of religion worked well as against consolidation on castes. It could be said that in love, war and elections all is fair; but the essence of India is destroyed.

Since 2014, the institutions built over a long period  are being subverted for narrow political  gains. An attempt to tinker with the judiciary did not yield desired results, but look the way right of speech and expression came under attack. JNU last year and Ramjas College this year provide evidence of  silencing the students into submission. In March this year, 721 academics including vice chancellors of 51 central and state universities deliberated over how to instil ‘Bharatiya’ culture into education system. And as RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said, it is an attempt to raise the true nationalist narrative in our education system. Have a look at the text books of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to know the gravity of how progressive thought is suppressed and history getting rewritten.

Vajpayee, the kind hearted poet lulled many like George Fernandes, Mamata Banerjee and Nitish Kumar  to provide the required legitimacy and credibility. It was forgotten that the poet was backed by the iron man who rode a truck camouflaged as a chariot asking Hindus to destroy a masjid. The large hearted poet was only a mask to get acceptability. The old iron man now gets acceptability as the new development man talks of shamshan – kabristan, Diwali-Eid to browbeat the minority and with ‘Cow’ as the centre of all politics. Current Gujarat CM tweet sums it all: ‘protection of cows is the single most important principle towards saving the whole world from moral and spiritual degradation’. The message of hate and hatred  is loud and clear as states compete with each other to make cow slaughter a capital offence.

The grand old man of socialist politics Madhu Limaye died with the guilt of providing credibility to the Jan Sangh,  the original avatar of BJP. At the time of the Janata party split he lamented “we dreamt of the birth of a democratic republic while the RSS claimed that democracy was a western concept that was not appropriate for India. In those days members of the RSS were full of praise for Adolf Hitler. Guruji (M.S. Golwalkar) was not only the Sarasanghchalak (head) of the RSS; he was its ideological Guru as well.” The followers of Guruji who stormed the country in 2014 and reaffirmed  their position in 2017 are certainly living up to his expectations.

It is in this context that we have to appreciate the contribution of this tiny state in providing the credibility to the growing vacuum in national politics and liberal thought in the country. Those who value principles of justice, pluralism and liberal thought, celebrated the Goa verdict along with Punjab and Manipur amidst the gloom of UP for a day. It was seen as a great leap in halting the anti-progressive forces. The joy was short lived  as India’s ex defence minister marched to Raj Bhavan with those who had vowed to wipe out BJP from the political landscape of Goa and some of whom were pickled in progressive thought as social activists for nearly 4 decades.   The Goa Forward born with the sole purpose of harvesting the anti-BJP atmosphere provided the required muscle to the BJP. Goans had actually adopted Goa Forward as the secular and liberal voice in the state. It is that status that had a chilling effect on all in the move to form the government with the BJP without allowing the people’s mandate to take effect. 

In politics there are no permanent enemies and permanent friends. Each party may have permanent  interests and may be even vested interest. It cannot be that everything you believe is sacrificed at the altar of practical politics and power politics. There ought to be some honesty and integrity  in the manoeuvring party’s interests. That must be within the four corners of accepted principles. And who decides the four corners? The four corners are the fundamental beliefs which can never be scarified. There cannot be a complete reversal of the very foundation of what is believed and propagated just to get power. The manoeuvring of party’s interests can never be and  cannot be against the will of the people.  The subversion of the Goa mandate has a feeling of being let down.  That feeling of let-down is happening at such intervals that people feel cheated making them loose faith in the elections and in a way in democracy itself. In my view, I am unable to give benefit of doubt to those who gave a setback to progressive forces. 

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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- JACK DE GOAN, GOA | 06 th April 2017 15:59


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