Manage  the Voter, seize the Power

By Cleofato A Coutinho
03 May 2017 20:46 IST

With the congress on the downslide and the experiment of Arvind Kejriwal on Ethical and corruption-free governance based on alternate politics fading away, fascist tendencies are mounting attack on democracy itself. As Narendra Modi marches on to have a Congress-mukt ‘Bharat’, new grounds are set with a complete go bye by ‘the party with a difference’.

 In their endeavour to wipe out Congress from the political map, what happened in Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh a year back shall find place in the text books of the Constitution of India in case independent authors are permitted to have their say. Post 2017 election scenario in Goa and Manipur has dumped constitutional niceties into a deeper pit.

Take the Goa case - we are told the largest party leadership slept while the minority worked overtime at midnight in fixing the ‘deal’. Pamella Philipose has rightly summed up the present scenario, “an active lie needs a passive recipient. The credibility of the piece of information is in direct proportion to the willingness of the people to invest it with credibility..”.

The Goa Governor laid to rest a convention well entrenched in India – that the single largest party gets the first invitation. Who reached the gates of Raj Bhavan first mattered the most. Congress ‘waited for an invite’ while the BJP ‘claimed an invite’. If Governments are formed that way, Goa save our democracy! The English convention that the ruling party losing majority cannot get the first shot at ministry making did not get the Governor’s  approval. The people’s mandate was destroyed by subverting the will of the people and the midnight ‘deal’ became nocturnal smartness displayed as political virtue, worth being emulated by the generation next as political shrewdness. The way this nocturnal smartness was portrayed in the Rajya Sabha is actually an insult to the Goa psyche. The electorate taken for a ride by the midnight ‘deal’.

In Manipur, the politically-smart took some time to lure 2 MLAs elected on a congress ticket to shift to ‘the party with a difference’ to give Manipur a BJP government. Changing party affiliations may be justified as a need to keep in tune with changing times. Vishwajeet Rane has done it in Goa but it is highly unacceptable that MLAs elected on a party ticket immediately shifts to the other side after elections. Same principle shall apply to the party brought  into being to drive out the BJP ( as Congress was accused of incapable of that!).

Democracy is all about numbers and in a  numbers game, it may look legitimate to get the numbers of the opponent depleted. But such maneuvering is not morally legitimate. But who is bothered about morals? Issues like principles, morals, ideology are to be reserved only for TV studios  and of course edit pages. Goa had its own ups and downs in its democratic foray. In the 90s of the last century we were infamous for having very ‘brittle’ governments that collapsed for money and power. When Wilfred D’ Souza marched to Raj Bhavan with Ratnakar Chopdekar and Sanjay Bandekar, both from MGP, despite MGP having majority, it was thought that the anti-defection law would take care of such deviant behaviour. But we made mincemeat of the law.

The return of the rejected in 2017 is now explained away as political necessity. Political compulsion is the main disease afflicting the Indian political system much more than corruption in the body polity and administration. Dr. Ambedkar had referred to constitutional morality as “a paramount reverence for the forms of constitution, enforcing obedience to the authority, acting under and with a habit of open speech, of action subject only through legal control…”. A political party functions with certain shared beliefs and collective conscience. At election time the people get their chance to put their seal of approval/disapproval on those beliefs. Government formation must reflect those shared beliefs on which the people lay their trust. Manipulating public will be a clear case of breach of trust, disloyalty undermining the very survival to cherish values of constitutionalism.

It may look stupid to talk of political morality in present times. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s times were over many decades back. What about propriety? Issues like majority and government formation have become play things in the hands of those who get elected. The deviant have changed the democratic fabric at their whims and fancies. It is the indecent pursuit of power that does not allow them maintain any semblance of propriety. Sacrifice is no longer the rule of politics, it is self and the only aim is to be on the ruling side by whatever methods. It is wealth and power that has to be collected to be used at the next elections and for generation next.

They have been succeeding for too long a time and have exploited the short public memory as a weapon to deal with public anger. They believe that the electorate can be managed by some small favours like arranging a job for someone or grant of a contract  out of turn or may be help someone get out of police clutches. In case you cannot manage that way, dazzle them with mega projects like a second bridge or a third one. If nothing works, buy them out! Our tolerance to such deviant behaviour  only confirms the decline of political standards and that has its own fallouts. We can never think of becoming a great state or a great country with such behaviour by our elected.  Democratic credibility depends upon how democracy is practiced.  Fascism gets breading ground when democratic institutions and democratic practices are at low ebb.



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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Previous Comments

Goans tried Goan Party (GFP)! What happened all Goans knows?

Always Goan Parties has merged or supported BJP & Congress!

Example - SGF merged with Congress. GVP+UGDP+MGP-GFP always supported Congress & BJP.

So now we have to give atleast one chance to AAP. They can do wonders in Goa!

All required one chance. Because we got one chance, we are successful today.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 15 th May 2017 20:11


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