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Does Goa Really Need An Opposition?

Does Goa Really Need An Opposition?

Politics of late is chartering a strange and mysterious course in the state!

While on one hand we have the ruling dispensation showing its reservations about alluring any more opposition MLAs into its fold, on the other hand the bonhomie that was on display between the BJP leaders and the Curtorim legislator during the latter’s 50th birthday celebrations gives indications of a new power equation that may yet be worked out between them.

Although Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco has been non-committal so far on the matter; given the uncertainties that pervade the state unit of the grand-old party of the country, it would not be a surprise to have him search for better options, were opportunities to come by at some later stage.

For the moment though he appears to be playing the wait and watch game!

Of course no one should grudge the Curtorim MLA such a ‘leap’, were it to materialize, considering that as a three-time legislator and one who has been the most vociferous critic of the ruling, he has managed to keep alive the semblance of a vibrant Opposition in Goa.

As it is, the government in Goa is an odd mixture of legislators who, with the exception of a few loyalists, together make up the ‘Congress face’ of the saffron party in the state.

Owing allegiance to none but their own self-motivated interests, it is this motley crowd that has ‘apparently’ brought stability and strength to the ruling BJP in Goa after it had flirted for some time with regional parties and independent members to prop it up in the state assembly.

The ‘strength of ten’ is however a matter of conjecture and it really remains to be seen whether it has the ‘wherewithal’ to last the full term!

What the state requires today are young and steadfast leaders who can take it forward and design a transformational roadmap for Goa’s progress.

Magnifying issues which have no relevance whatsoever to the current state of affairs, Goa is unfortunately infested with politicians who seek publicity, even at the cost of public despair.

Waste management, for instance, is a problem that assails the entire country today. Yet, instead of taking appropriate steps to resolve the muddle, we have leaders sparring publicly over the matter on one day and deciding to discuss the issue over a drink the very next day.

The obsession to remain in news consumes many of the politicians in the state today. Hence the need for an effective Opposition has not been really felt in Goa considering the penchant shown by a conspicuous few ruling legislators to proffer opinionated views on many of the government’s agendas.

With the rise in Dengue cases, the state is in the midst of a health scare. Besides, the incessant rains have brought enough misery to the region. The roads and highways lie in a neglected state. Power woes continue to bother consumers; not to mention about the other utilitarian services which call for a lot of improvement. The state is beset by a host of problems!

Yet it is shocking that the elected representatives concern themselves only with issues that lie dormant under heaps of bureaucratic jumble for the lack of a political will to resolve them.

Such issues have always come handy for those wishing to gain a political mileage out of them by directing the public’s attention towards matters which are seemingly complicated and would require the Centre’s intervention to come to some conclusion.

Take the mining imbroglio for instance! Those affected by the closure of mining activities in the state would like to believe that the government is earnestly working towards achieving a win-win situation for the stakeholders by imploring New Delhi to consider all options to resume mining.

On tenterhooks all along, promises of resumption of mining has worked as that balm which helps assuage the feelings of the locals who have all along felt that it is not their leaders but the central leadership which is not sympathetic with their cause and are apparently deriving sadistic pleasures out of their miserable condition.

The sugar-coated promises which has come so easily to the elected members seems to have had the desired effect with the mining- dependent people reposing complete trust in the local leadership to the extent of believing the bucketful of lies.      

Likewise, when activists were raising the bogey of casinos once too often, appearing sincere, many an aspiring leader in Goa was able to instill a fair amount of confidence in the minds of the people about his/her sincerity to shift the ‘floating gambling houses’ out of River Mandovi. There were many ministers who were conspicuous by their silent endorsements as well.  

To this date, however, every ‘well-meaning’ intention on this matter hangs in limbo and Mandovi continues to play host to a fleet of new off-shore casinos.

The government of the day has nonetheless added a new dimension to the row. With the Chief Minister who insists on continuing with the casinos vessels in River Mandovi for six more months, it is the steadfastness shown by the Panjim legislator to have them out of it that has confounded many.

Thus another instance of members from the same dispensation heading for a confrontation cannot be overlooked. Is the CM too soft that he cannot rein in his detractors within the ruling allowing them to go public with their views on any and every matter even if they don’t confirm to party diktats!       

MLAs from the coastal belt, and some of them from the ruling front, demanding that the government should postpone the public hearing on the Marina project proposed at Nauxi till it finalizes the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan, the Chief Minister is left with a knotty situation in his hands.

With an equal number at loggerheads with colleagues over the functioning of their departments, it is quite evident that the BJP-government in Goa is not unduly perturbed over the lack of a viable Opposition. In fact there is a viable Opposition in its midst!

No sooner the government comes up with a new proposition, there are enough ruling legislators who make a big show of shouting down the proposal without even considering the pros-and-cons of the plan.

The penchant for washing dirty linen in public is a malady that seems to have afflicted most of our ruling legislators.

While the BJP-ensemble that enjoys overwhelming majority in the assembly would have been expected to have all the plans and proposals introduced by its members passed without any glitch; public intervention in any and everything proposed as the best means to counter the initiative is being seen as one novel way to stall progress.

Strangely so, “One MLA proposes and the other one disposes!” That is the current political scenario in the state.   

Will these strong undercurrents of opposition by its own members rock the BJP boat in Goa!

(Published on 04th November 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 45)