Pramod Acharya 17th Aug 2021
So my fellow Goans, what additional freebies do you fancy? You shall command and we shall have it, at least in the manifesto of our political parties for the upcoming six months. A government in power may bestow you with a few doles right away. After all, it is first past the post.
We shall get 'free' water from next month. The ruling establishment has blessed us on Independence Day. Free power now suddenly seems quite distant. Although, we would love to have that too, free, at once. So for now, we shall get water free but only a couple of hours a day as in most places. In some areas, we shall have it on alternate days. In some towns, after people protest for not seeing a drop of tap water for more than a week and in few villages, we can use treated potable water to wash our vehicles and pets, if we desire so, now that it is free.
We find freebies irresistible and most of us aren't concerned about who foots the bill. Sometimes I wonder, did Manohar Parrikar get the majority of seats in 2012 because he presented before us stellar vision for Goa or due to persuasive assurances about no VAT on petrol, Ladli Laxmi and Griha Adhar. Did we want plentiful freebies or robust policies?
We have seen several of us making some insane demands when our politicians turn up at our doorsteps for campaigning. In Tiswadi, people have done merrily with laterite stones to cement stocks to rooftops. We have heard of folks applying for leave from their place of occupation on a day a particular politician visits their ward for campaigning. We have sought a double door fridge, smart TV, split AC etc etc.
Many of us argue in favour of this unholy nexus between a voter and a dishonest politician, stating it isn't unfair to exact from a corrupt who looted us. After all, it is our money. But we never think of electing upright men who won't pilfer public wealth.
Now, our politicians firmly believe that we can be purchased by paying us our own money. Are they mistaken in their evaluation? We haven't given them any reason to deem otherwise, till now.
This election is furthering the tendency and it is extremely distressing. After AAP promised free electricity up to 300 units to every household, BJP has now promised 16000 litres of free water per household. Going by their track record in Delhi, this could have been Aam Aadmi Party’s second or third declaration in the coming days. Pramod Sawant decided to pre-empt the Kejriwal led party. But there was one difficulty. The BJP is already in power. How can it promise an initiative post-poll that can be implemented right away? And if the government cannot execute it instantly, what is the guarantee that it will be operational after the election? So right here, right now.
Have we ever thought, irrespective of the party, why our politicians think that we as voters can be successfully ‘bribed’? Why do some relatively reliable politicians privately concur that they cannot win an election because they do not have enough cash to splurge? Why do honest Goans with clear conscience feel that they should remain miles away from active politics? We the people have made our elections a costly affair, exorbitant for decent men and expedient for crooks. We want our tournaments sponsored, narakasur competitions taken care of and renovations funded.
An MLA friend told me a couple of months back that a group of youngsters has pledged to work against him in this upcoming election because he expressed his inability to sponsor (procure) a sturdy bull for a bullfight.
We are as sadden today with the collapse of civilized politics, devoid of any values or conviction, as we were in the 90s. Do we have it in us to demonstrate that we genuinely yearn for change? Not a superficial one facilitating mere transfer of power from one political party to another. But a truly inner transformation that alters the kind of existing landscape traversed by our leaders and traded by us. Do we aspire to be 'free' from this vicious circle or do we crave for more doles. The latter is already proving awfully expensive for our treasured state.