Welcome the ‘terror culture’; or.....?

By Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)
21 December 2013 19:54 IST

The attack on Vishnu Wagh from his own party workers within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was expected. But not a physical attack. He was once reprimanded by the party leaders and warned against his rhetorics. But it continued amidst rumours that he plans to contest Lok Sabha election from North Goa, as the Nationalist Congress Party candidate, against BJP leader Shripad Naik. Thus, Wagh attending a Kirtan Mahotsav in Tivim constituency, at the behest of defeated former MLA and NCP state chief Nilkanth Halarnkar, was bound to raise ‘political eyebrows.’ Especially when local BJP MLA Kiran Kandolkar was not invited but Wagh, along with another staunch BJP opponent MLA Vijay Sardesai, was.

The definition of political loyalty has changed nowadays. Those who blindly support any kind of act of the party and its leaders are the loyalists. And those who raise their voice against the ‘wrongs’ are the traitors. Thus they deserve to be taught a ‘lesson.’ These lessons vary from teacher to teacher. If the teacher in Tivim was assigned to teach a lesson, he would obviously do it in his own style and in tune with his culture. Perhaps this lesson could be different if speaker Rajendra Arlekar was assigned the task in Pernem.

Wagh said the assailants, who came armed with black flags, sticks, lathis and even iron rods, were supporters of his party colleague Kandolkar. In fact they asked him how he could dare to attend NCP leader’s function when he is the BJP legislator and his local colleague is not present. The Kirtan Mahotsav was purely cultural, and not political, is a humbug. In that case, the ‘cultured tradition’ of inviting the local MLA – no matter which party he belongs to – would have been followed judiciously,  especially when two other MLAs were invited.

Such kind of political checkmate is not a new phenomenon. It happens in every constituency and every party. Scoring over each other and exploiting even sports and cultural events to settle political scores is the new political culture rampant today. It then reflects within the party forums, within the cadres and even during municipal or panchayat elections. Sometimes even at the elections of temples, churches, clubs and even educational institutions.

But attacking the elected representative physically is a new culture, sadly, the BJP has brought in. Chief minister Manohar Parrikar does not deny that the assailants – all men - were NCP leader Halarnkar’s opponents but refuses to accept that they were Kandolkar’s supporters. In fact Kandolkar’s supporters – all women - gather next day to condemn the heinous attack on Wagh. While the police investigate, the home minister gives clean chit to the alleged conspirator and assurance to Wagh that all the people responsible for this attack would be punished!

Do we need to remember where and when we have seen such dramas? In fact these dramas are fresh in our minds. They happened till yesterday – before March 2012, when a party called Congress (along with NCP) ruled Goa for decades together. There were Vishnu Waghs (including Wagh himself) in that party and also Kandolkars and Parrikars! Similar actions, similar allegations, similar denials and similar assurances. The only difference is that the culture of physically attacking the MLA had not developed. May be that is the Parivartan!

The same elements are in the BJP today, making it crystal clear that yesterday’s Congress is today’s BJP. In reality, these elements neither belong to the Congress nor the BJP. They belong to the Seat of Power and become Powerful themselves. They sincerely believe that threat works, terror strikes and the voice is suppressed through such means. These elements simply don’t believe that such issues need to be debated within the party and resolved. They firmly believe that the opponent should be suppressed and repressed. They refuse to buy  the theory proved worldwide – Repression begets Revolt. (Even in Wagh’s case, his opponents have come forward to support him, where he gains sympathy and not those who attacked.)

But this is not a mere incident that has taken place. This is a warning, to the democracy and to us, who believe in democratic principles. The sad part of attack on Wagh is not that the MLA is attacked by his own party colleagues. The sad part of the story is that the culture of public threats, verbal abuses, manhandling, beating up and creating terror is the new political culture Goa is getting gripped with. It does not happen only in political parties but even in political battles like mining, where mining workers threaten whistleblower Ramesh Gawas to disrupt his son’s wedding. It’s spreading everywhere, from political parties to social movements.

Who will take a call on THIS?

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

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Sandesh Prabhudesai (EdiThought)

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 Prudent & Goa365, 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. After retirement from day-to-day journalism in 2020, he is into Re-Search Journalism (पुनर्सोद पत्रकारिता), focusing on analytical articles, Video programs & Books.

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