The Third Post-Liberation Era

Our CM will do well to remember the words of Alain Chartier: "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have"

By Antonio V Francisco Fernandes

Broadly speaking, it is now going to be Goa’s third political era since liberation fifty years ago. How long and distinctive it will be is yet to be seen. But the electorate, that gave the change-driven verdict on March 3, 2012, expects a more decisive new order than just a normal change in government from one party to another. To deny or deprive Goa of a paradigm shift will amount to betrayal of the watershed verdict.

Before pointing out the aspirations of the people for the third era, let me summarise the first two eras. The first era started with the results of the first general election on December 9, 1963. The issue of Goa’s merger with Maharashtra dominated the agenda. The victory of the pro-merger Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party over the pro-Goa United Goans Party brought the Goan identity issue to the centre, eclipsing all other issues. The historical Opinion Poll settled the issue in favour of Goa’s separate identity in 1967. However, the MGP was returned to power in the subsequent elections of 1967, 1972 and 1977 till a historic verdict for change brought the Congress party to power in the beginning of 1980. The first era was also characterised by the strong and charismatic leadership of Dayanand Bandodkar and Dr Jack de Sequeira, the likes of whom have not been seen in the years that followed.

The second era began with the Congress government taking over in 1980 and ruling Goa for 32 years except for two rather brief periods in 1990 and 2000-2005. The first break was caused by Congress defectors combining with MGP, and the second by Congress defectors colluding with BJP, followed by a fractured verdict when the Bharatiya Janata Party assumed power. During this long period we had the language issue settled after a powerful agitation, followed immediately by statehood for Goa in 1987.

Political instability, caused by defections and manipulations, became the order of the day ever since the first post-statehood election in 1989. The BJP made its first appearance in the Goa Assembly in 1994, riding piggy back on the MGP. The decline of regional parties, which began with the 1977 elections after the merger of United Goans in the Congress, was accelerated by the rise of BJP at the cost of MGP in the 1990s. The second era had begun well with development as the motto but ended with people’s disgust over corruption, personal power centres becoming ‘family raj’ extensions, regional plans becoming ‘sale plans’ for construction lobbies from outside Goa, and local leadership becoming impotent before the central emissaries from Delhi but arrogant with our own people. The people’s disgust was displayed in the results of the March 2012 election.

The third political era has now begun with a massive mandate to the BJP led alliance. The future of this era will depend on how the regime responds to the people’s aspirations. There could be three outcomes. The first outcome could be caused by the new regime playing the same old games: defections and manipulations. This will mean nipping the third era in the bud and continuation of the same old ways under a new garb. This, I think, will not happen.

The second setting could be the BJP going back to its original ideology, and sticking to it come what may, losing its new broad base, forcing the new adherents to go back to the old thinking and the discarded politicians, much to the delight of the latter. This, I hope, will not happen.

The real challenge lies in the third setting. And this, I pray, will happen: that the BJP will reinvent itself to face the diversity loving people who have gravitated towards it, give a new orientation to its cadres to reciprocate the trust that traditionally non-BJP voters have vested in them, positively interact with all citizens, come out with an inclusive and transparent agenda, and lead the people towards a new Goa. The Goa of our common dreams, where our land belongs to us, our Konkani identity is preserved, where environment friendly industry prospers, where education prepares our children for an increasingly challenging future, where nature takes precedence over development, and where all communities celebrate life together as they have always done.

We expect the new government, led by an able Chief Minister, to listen to the people. Let them have a say in their towns and villages. Our CM will do well to remember the words of Alain Chartier: "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have."