By virtue of having a Chief Minister who continues to remain in the national headlines in spite of the life-threatening disease that has taken its toll on him, any and everything that happens in Goa is news.
Moreover, Manohar Parrikar’s ‘Delhi credentials’ has put him in an unenviable position where anything unsavoury pertaining to his ex-ministry finds its way back to Goa.
As the state makes all efforts to familiarize itself with the regular movement of central ministers and functionaries in and out of Goa, it is becoming increasingly evident that the ex-defence minister enjoys enough clout to have his voice heard in the Modi-sarkar even today.
But the unclear politics that greeted him as he moved back to helm the hotchpotch government in Goa in 2017 has only got murkier by the day.
With two of its political heavyweights bidding farewell to this mortal world in quick succession, the state will take some time to reconcile to the irreparable loss.
In the death of the former deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza and the Ex-MLA of San Andre, Vishnu Wagh, Goa has lost two noteworthy individuals who blazed across the political spectrum of the state in their own resolute ways.
It is however demeaning to have such leaders languishing in near oblivion no sooner they are out of the public eye!
Was there any news on the whereabouts of Vishnu Wagh after he remained in the headlines for his deteriorating medical conditions which saw him on frequent medical jaunts to Mumbai in the company of his wife! In fact, nothing much was heard about him until his death in South Africa - which again was reported a few days late.
It has been a typical case of ‘out of media glare, out of mind’ for our politicians. Enjoying the attention of the media for all the good and the preposterous deeds during their term in office, it is quite insulting to find themselves dropped like hot cakes no sooner they remit public office.
Vishnu Wagh’s debilitating conditions on account of multiple medical complications garnered public sympathy for some time and gradually ceased to interest them anymore. The media by then had already severed its links with the controversial figure.
But at least Francis D’Souza was a serving legislator in the present government, if not a minister - wasn’t he newsworthy either!
As a leader there is no one who can doubt his credentials as a popular leader and an effective administrator. The very fact that there are umpteen, and very credible, claimants to the vacant Mapusa assembly is suggestive of the hold the departed leader had over his constituency.
And to have the Saffron party compelled by the politics of coalition to have the ailing leader sidelined and gradually eased out of political reckoning to maintain the mockery of unity that characterizes the present cobbled-up constitution that goes for the ruling alliance in the state! It is the worst insult that could have been heaped on a leader of Francis D’Souza’s stature.
If deteriorating health-conditions were the criterion, then by the same yardstick Manohar Parrikar as the Chief Minister of the state should have been replaced long back. But then these are the follies of a political system where numbers, and not merits, decide the ascent to power.
It was also quite amusing to have the ailing CM visiting the D’Souza residence to condole the death of his colleague, and on a wheelchair at that, graciously recognizing the contributions of the Mapusa MLA to the state’s betterment.
Fondly remembering him as a childhood friend, his recollections about their amity however fail to justify the political arrangements which saw the Mapusa legislator on a virtual slide and not figuring anywhere in the BJP’s order of priorities in the new coalition.
The audacity of as junior an associate as the Calangute legislator in baiting the Mapusa MLA with accusations of not having nurtured the constituency well in spite of having remained in power for so long speaks of the insolent behavior that has come to characterize the new corps of leaders in the present BJP-ranks.
As a simple and unassuming leader that Francis D’Souza was known to be, it is indeed unfortunate that he had to silently bear the bitterness right to his grave.
All the same, after a period of relative silence for about two years or so, his demise has suddenly revived interest in the political vacuum created in Mapusa.
The press does not however seem to tire of covering Le affairs Mapusa!
Nevertheless, it was not at all appropriate having discussions on who could be anointed D’Souza’s successor to carry his legacy forward in Mapusa even before the departed leader could be laid to rest!
The manner in which a few power-hungry and impudent political leaders have been rushing with political support at the time of grief can aptly be described as political chicanery at its most graceful height!
Apparently, consolidation of political turf is something that comes so very naturally to our leaders, even if they have to make their intentions clear unmindful of the time and solemnity of the occasion!
The announcement made by the TCP Minister about backing the son of Francis D’Souza for the Mapusa seat which has shocked the state wing of the BJP for words, for instance! Really strange!
For that matter, with each passing day it is becoming extremely difficult to comprehend the type of politics being played out in Goa.
While the media contemplates the elusive quotients allowing for the current government’s continuance in power, variations in political equations by the hour make the whole calculations go haywire.
While the dissolution of the assembly increasingly appearing a distinct possibility, the resilience shown by the motely crowd of ‘associates’ in propping-up the government is indeed commendable.
But how long can such an ‘arrangement’ sustain the fragile union, where every partner is power-hungry and solely interested in its own survival!
The MGP, in spite of being partners in the coalition government, are hell-bent on contesting the Shiroda and Mandrem by-elections! Apart from dropping an occasional bombshell, the GFP is holding all its cards close to its chest!
In any case, the stillness that has enveloped the region in the wake of the uncertainties that has characterized the typical turbulence in the top echelons of power in the state has further settled into an eerie silence with the demise of the ex- Dy.CM.
The news that the state unit of the BJP is in a quandary over a worthy replacement for BJP in Mapusa further complicate the matters for the party.
Be that as it may, but electoral politics is all about the convenience of having like-minded allies coming together to fool the electorate into believing that their association is the best it can have as representatives to the portals of power and one that is also able to give effective governance.
However, it would be atrocious to believe that the ‘like-mindedness’ stems from any public concern. It is simply an aspect developed out of personal considerations. Coalitions across the country have given ample proof of this sudden ‘fondness’ which brings together the most unlikeliest of partners together in an attempt to assume power.
The three-day mourning and the decision to accord the senior BJP functionary a state funeral is however a poor consolation for the late deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza, who, without a doubt, ‘destigmatised’ BJP for Goa’s Christians!
May God grant him eternal rest and the family the fortitude to bear the great pain!
(Published on 04th March 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 10)