(Un)covering the Political in the Politics in Goa

Image Source: The Quint

The political scenario is heating up day by day in Goa. The keys of ignition are in place and the buttons seem to have been pressed on for the grand unfolding of the political drama. While the politics in the political drama is going to be chaotic and polyphonic, it would be interesting to discern the political in our politics. This quest to understand the political in the politics at play in our society is very important to understand and respond to the same. Some among us might trace the political in the out stationed national leaders who keep crash landing in Goa to catalyse, stimulate/ manipulate our Goan people. Others may find the political in the way local leaders mask their manipulative intent by hiding under the mask of the grand national leaders and claim legitimacy of their decisions by assigning their origin to Delhi (high command hiding self command). Still others may say that the caste or religion is the political that energizes our politics. Therefore, we do not cast our vote but end up voting our caste/ religion. This means the diverse sources of our selves like our caste, culture, regionality (north/ south or our Goan-ness itself ) and even our hopes, fears, and aspirations form the political that engineers the political drama that is being enacted in our society in Goa. All this means that the political hides under the cover of politics that it creates and sanctions. Hence, the (un)covering of the political that animates the politics of each party is very important because it politicizes our society. The identification of the political that politicizes each one of us is important so that we become active and enlightened citizens.

The political is complex, plural, dynamic and fluid and is not easily determinable yet the understanding of its dynamics will assist us to become mindful and not mindless Goans. We have not yet reached a discussive totality both in India and Goa and hence, the political will always remain plural and keep politicizing us all the time. That is why it would be important that we become watchful. Political scientists have abstracted the political in the process of asignification with generates and fires an ‘us and them’ division. The dynamics of asignification results in the removal or squeezing of the meaning or content from the local and singular person or states of affairs. What we call asignification or the generation of a loss of meaning or content is indeed a manufacturing of new content that becomes sufficiently universal and converts the individual person or state of affairs as a master signifier. A master signifier is an empty signifier/symbol that has no core content but draws is content from outside of itself. Thus, for instance, PM Modi or A Kejrival have emerged as leaders through asignification that triggered a new ‘us and them’ division on the national scene though in different ways. We can clearly discern in both these instances, the local and individual content of their personalities is squeezed out and they have become master signifiers, one posing as an hindutva icon of development while the other standing as a crusader of anti-corruption. Thus, the asignification (loss of meaning) as well as resignification (acquiring of new meaning) in both cases continues to politicize us and feeds the ‘us and them’ divisions.

We have manifested the dynamics of the political in the politics in the analysis of asignification and generation of new ‘us and them’ divisions. But our task is not over. We have to attentively do the same in the complex contexts of the states of affairs that become raw materials to generate the political for the political master players (manipulators) in our society. It is in this context, castes, religions, cultures, hopes, fears and aspirations of our people become the resource for the designer politics to prey upon. The dynamics of asignification, for instance, in the case of a national party like the BJP puts an erasure on every aspect of being Indian and creates a narrow majoritarian Hindutva politics. The loss of content in this case is clear when we see that every Hindu is Human, Indian, Goan, and more. The primacy of being Hindu provides the narrative content to the Hindutva politics. Congress on the other hand has undergone an asignification of its plural and secular image and come to acquire corruption as the chief anchor of its politics. Reeling under the new political (Corruption) Congress seems to have lost its narrative and is unable to resignify itself ( acquires new image content). Thus, we can see how different states of affairs are crafted to fire the political that politicizes our society. That is why the discernment of the political becomes urgent and important to respond mindfully and not mindlessly to the politricking of the political drama that is enacted in our society.

Our quest for the political in ‘the political scenario’ in Goa becomes very important because we are in an election year. To decode the plural political that is at play in Goa, we will have to discern the various processes and dynamics of asignification and re-signification that generate divisive ‘us and them’ in our fragile society. The divisive politics of BJP cancels, abrogates, keeps under erasure our Goaness (and more) and we end up voting for our religion pulled by the primacy of Hinduism. The entry of the AAP and Goa Forward on the political horizon has opened up the primacy of the issue of corruption and the issues of Goa respectively and opened new ‘us and thems’ in our society. An ascription as well as acquiring of corruption image of both Congress and BJP has inscribed new meaning/content into the MGP, AAP and Goa Forward and they have begun to look viable options for Goans. This shows that the political emerges through an engineered craftsmanship vis-à-vis the political craft played by other political players. Designing of the political that is at play into the politics in Goa does not only rests with the political parties and their think thanks. NGO’s, RSS, activist groups, BBSM, CSJP etc., all play an important role. Although there is no level playing field in the making of the political in Goa, It is important that we Goans become mindful lest we mindlessly vote our ‘caste’ of different hues instead of casting our vote in the upcoming election 2017.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao