Friday, August 07, 2009

Goan Political Tragicomedy

Source: Peter Alexander- 3 Aug Herald

It is time for the people to draw the curtain on the tragicomedy our politicians have made of governance, says PETER FERNANDES

Most Goans are crazy about tiatr. Goans have enjoyed good shows for over a century, some tragic, many others depicting social evils combined with religious insight to bring change in society, and a few others purely comic. From the first-ever tiatr in history – ‘Italian Bhurgo’ by Lucasinho Ribeiro, staged in Mumbai on 17 April 1892 – until today, this form of theatre, with several acts entwined with songs backed by a live band, continues to enthrall and enlighten Goan society. Over this period, renowned artists walked the stage and made their mark in Goa and elsewhere in the world through their notable efforts to entertain our hearts and minds. We salute them with pride and gratitude. They have left us a rich legacy to emulate in order to enrich our society with good values, and to reach higher goals of sublime living. Our tiatr reflects the social, political and religious life of society; and, very often, it is a protest against the wrong in society, which is projected through the songs, comedy and drama. Contemporary artists continue the heritage today, with enthusiasm and pride, receiving little or no support from our government.

Incredibly, we see our politicians nowadays enacting such living drama for all to view with disdain and disgust. These public servants conduct their lives in a deplorable manner. Nonetheless, this melodrama encompasses the nature of tragicomedy. Dayanand Narvekar did not realise that the camera was on when he delivered with great audacity his unscripted discourse on corruption. This subject “Corruption” is the creation of our leaders, and, as good actors and teachers, they want to marinate our society completely. I hope Narvekar is never afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s. Our memories are still fresh about his unbecoming behavior, as he faced allegations of sexual harassment, cheating, forgery, corruption and misappropriation of funds. Nevertheless, we have to commend Narvekar for loudly crying out his displeasure over the treatment he received from government bureaucrats, through which he exposed the level of corruption and the plight of the common man. The present government takes pride in being a government for aam admi. This is a tragicomedy, for in reality they have woven a massive web of corruption to strangle citizens to death.

Before Narvekar lost his cabinet berth as Minister of Finance, he seemed to have been portraying a similar drama with MLAs and other ministers. Mickky Pacheo was bent on stripping Narvekar of the finance portfolio not long ago, for having treated him with similar contempt, which Narvekar abhors at the present juncture. This explains the dynamic of our government, and the reason why every MLA is vying for a ministerial berth in the ruling administration. Every minister looks out for his own interest, and the other MLAs keep constant watch to see if something might fall from the minister’s plate.
The people of Goa should keep in mind that our government has no vision for our Goa. Our leaders are like weathercocks – they easily change their direction according to the weather. Churchill Alemao wants to have three bridges in his constituency, since he holds the PWD portfolio. As long as he is the PWD Minister, the rest of Goa must watch and pay taxes to fulfill his selfish dreams for Navelim. How did Goa fall into the hands of such corrupt leaders? For how long will this drama unfold? And, when will Goans say, “Enough”?

On the floor of the Assembly, Narvekar challenged the PWD minister for granting permits for construction along the NH17, where use of the land was frozen for the express purpose of expanding the highway. Narvekar is determined to fight over this matter, even in the courts. Churchill first denied the violation and then tried to justify it by citing the state of Kerala, which has done like projects under similar circumstances. How can the Chief Minister tolerate such action from his ministers?

But I am amused and entertained by the whole business. I just want to recall, for the sake of the audience, the opening scene of this drama. Speaking at Alemao’s birthday celebrations, Narvekar told Churchill, “I may be older than you as far as experience is concerned, but I am looking at you. This is the time when the state is going down the drain. Someone has to stand up. You have the capacity, the urge and the interest to serve the people and save the state. People like me will be with you in this mission.” He further pointed out that Churchill is not just the leader of South Goa, but he is being worshipped even in the North. “Go ahead with your political ambitions, we are with you. You are like my family member,” he said. Saying that the people of Goa want Churchill to play a long innings in politics, Narvekar said that health should not be a problem for the PWD Minister, stating, “People of Goa want you, not just your knee; all your parts can be replaced for the sake of Goans.”

Luizinho Faleiro, who dominated Goan politics for almost three decades, now sits on a huge booty, and is the highest taxpayer in the state of Goa. It is a mystery, and yet a tragicomedy for Goans to contemplate. How could an elected leader, with a meagre salary, amass such a huge amount of wealth? Leaders are put in office to empower the people, and to improve the lives of the citizens. On the contrary, our politicians have secured better lives for themselves alone, and have disenfranchised gullible people. This process continues, and has reached to such an extent that even MLAs cannot breathe easily now. Whatever may be Narvekar’s past, his statement in the Assembly came as a breath of fresh air. No MLA or minister in the past dared to make such a subversive statement that would shake the house to its very foundations.
Corruption is a structural sin which systematically destroys society. It creates a situation where people cannot do otherwise but sin. When people cry, their tears reach heaven. Our Father hears the cry of the oppressed! Without doubt, history has taught us many valuable lessons on this subject. The natural reaction of those in such a situation is to subvert the structure. People of Goa, do not brush aside or disregard the consequences of this drama played out by our politicos.

Before entering the election booth, reflect wisely on the detrimental results this tragicomedy has given us. Recognise, and own up to the reality, that by our foolishness over many years, Goan society has been violated with transgressions beyond number. To you, my countrymen, I say that we can counteract this widespread crime of corruption, for we know its face, and we hear its voice. No sadder lesson would there be in our history than this: that by our weakness, inaction and indifference we allowed our power as citizens to remain in the hands of public officials who would breach their positions of trust by their depravity and dishonesty. Our opposition to them is our obligation to all generations!

Unfortunately, we have lived under this sinful structure of corruption because we let the enemy come through the gates. No more! The power of the people shall rise up, and bring the curtain down on the tragicomedy that plays out before us. We will drive the self-serving imposters off the stage, show them the exit, and close the gates. This show must end!

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