Millennium Post

The show must go on

Chaos is inevitably inflicted upon the demise of a strong, charismatic, and capable leader who managed to bring together people against all odds and decorate the populace with peace and prosperity. Numerous examples from history narrate the prowess of such rulers and simultaneously highlight the adversities that followed upon their demise. Ensuing chaos has always constituted several others carrying a big appetite for power. A similar situation arose in Goa following the demise of BJP's moderate leader – Manohar Parrikar. From being a well educated young leader of RSS to Union Defence Minister and then the Chief Minister of Goa, Parrikar was not just an admirable and capable administrator but also a person of the people. Possessing an adept understanding of Goan politics, his hardworking character made him more suitable to the CM chair more than anyone else despite being inexperienced in such affairs. Before Parrikar, Goa underwent five phases of President's rule separated by short governments of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Congress. He was the grand solution to the impasse which arose following the state assembly elections in 2017. BJP won fewer seats than Congress yet it was the saffron party who formed the government but the machinations behind that answer the questions, how and why Parrikar! A moderate leader of the Hindutva party, Parrikar's outreach and consequential popularity amongst the Christians, who constitute 27 per cent of Goa's population, was implicitly responsible for his return to the state. Independents and smaller parties collectively put forward their non-negotiable condition to see him at the helm in return for their support – which brought BJP to power despite fewer seats. Parrikar can be accredited for a similar kind of social union as the erstwhile great rulers that history glorifies. He was pivotal in social re-engineering of Goa, severing cast and communal lines to draw an even equation of the state's society. A man of his stature deserved the respect he commanded and the ensuing political conundrum that threw Goa's administrative block into chaos was rather expected. Congress's rising urge for power in Goa after Parrikar's death was thrashed by BJP. It was BJP president Amit Shah's masterstroke to send Union Minister Nitin Gadkari to manage the political conundrum following Parrikar's unfortunate demise which played out perfectly for the dispensation. The confusion was resolved after prolonged discussions between BJP and smaller parties; especially since the bargaining power of these smaller parties increased amidst the political chaos. However, after drawing equations and accommodating the arguments of allies and independents, crucial to get the numbers for floor-clearance in assembly, BJP narrowed down to the state's assembly speaker and Parrikar's follower, Pramod Sawant - the 23rd time that Goan regime changed since 1963. While the state assembly's strength is down to 36 following the death of two members and resignation of the other two, Sawant sailed through the trust vote in the 36-member House. BJP succeeded in retention of power, talking the leaders of regional parties out of their desire to claim the CM chair and restored a BJP government, as was the case under Parrikar. However, Sawant is yet to fit in Parrikar's shoes. From the look of it, he may face unparalleled difficulties in setting up the same environment which his predecessor pioneered.

Goa is a small state with limited resources and a grave number of social and economic factors account for its volatility. Political patronage, rent-seeking and dirty money – the ills of democracy – plague Goa and it is now Sawant's idle-time introspection and protracted council meetings which must handle the state's adversities. Mining has been banned, leaving tourism as the lone driver of the economy. Unemployment persists and blemishes the state's picture. The system only adds to these adversities instead of countering them and hence, a government standing on thin majority must expedite its policies and bring harmony to Goa, as was under Parrikar, in order to avoid an aggravated scenario. If the obstacles to an effective regime were not enough, the regime in itself stands precariously under the cloud of general elections. The general election is the single largest factor which could determine, and even alter, Goa's political and administrative narrative. Should Modi be voted back to power, his consecutive term will provide complete protection and support to Sawant's maiden term and also act as a shield to probable disruptors in the state. Any other result ensuing in a different dispensation might compromise Sawant's term and push the state into a turmoil. Parrikar was the pillar that held people, administration, and competitors together. Compared to him, every other leader might be an anathema for the people who just loved him. However, life does not stop. While Goa, and India, strive for another like Parrikar, the situation must be improved for the sake of state and country – what Parrikar would have wanted, undoubtedly.

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