It is said that ‘The politicians do not retire. They die’. One might find a harsh truth hidden in this statement. It brings to light that since there is no retirement age or term for the politicians like people in other fields, it keeps the doors open for them to stay in office until a good ripe age. Some say that like aged wine, the political leaders become wise with age while others think that the senile old politicians lack energy and wisdom to lead the people given the challenges of our modern society. Though some may feel experience is the key to political leadership, but there are others who say that it is can lead to political squatting preventing the emergence of new leadership. One might debate whether the retirement of politicians has to be according to age or terms in office. There seems to be consensus among several politically a conscious citizens that our politicians need to retire. I think it has to be related to the term in office and not age per se. Such a political Sanyas is in keeping with the ethos of our civilization and is healthy for our democracy. In fact, the political Sanyas does not have to take the old leaders out of political life but it has space for them to take the role of mentors or margdarsks for the younger leaders that follow.
All power is intoxicating. Therefore, even a suggestion of political Sanyas might be seen as a cup of poison, particularly to the old guard and their allies in the political leadership across parties. Even if we see it as a cup of poison, we will have to drink it like Socrates for the good of our democracy. The politicians might easily subscribe that poor are disposable but always see themselves as indispensable. Political Sanyas may sound traumatic for old war horses in political ranks but they have to remember that their continuation can be traumatic for the citizens. It is like the ‘Hegelian wound’ that has healing possibilities in the very wounding. Similarly, in the very Sanyas of the Old leadership, we have the entry of the young leadership. The political community has grudgingly accepted the Supreme Court verdict that outlawed the membership of the lawmakers who are convicted by the court even if their appeals to higher courts were still pending. Does that mean that we have to wait for the activism of the Supreme Court to bring about the official Sanyas in politics? Well in Goa we seem to have a way out. I think we do not have to censor our dream for a full flowering democracy where political leadership remains young, free from corruption and performs at the optimum level.
Within this context of our right to refuse to censor our dream for a fuller democracy, we may look at the political options that we have in Goa. Just as the people of Goa refused to settle down for Family Raj and corruption during the last elections, the same people might resolve the puzzle of political Sanyas this time. Herald has already exposed how there appears to be a split between the youth and old guard of the grand old congress party. Moreover , the way that some old timers qualify themselves as winnable candidates has lead several people to ponder whether these leaders are not in touch with the ground reality. Quicker that they realise that it is better for the grand old party to blood its young brigade would be in accordance with the pulse of the time. If the Goans were faced with the Family Raj last time, it appears that we are going to be challenged with the Grand Father Raj this time. That is why the debate over the question of retirement becomes relevant and purposeful. The dismissal and the discrediting of the revolt of the angry young men by none other than the GPCC president, seems to underscore that in order to be someone in the grand old party one has to be ‘old enough’. Right now the law of the land as well as policies of most parties are on the side of those that have been described as the Grand Fathers by the Herald. This is the reason some people think that the electoral process will bring about a political Sanyas of some spent forces from the political scenario in Goa.
It is not hard to imagine what would be the symbolic ‘value addition’ that some of the old timers bring to the grand old congress party. Electoral process is often a symbolic exchange. The symbolic capital of the ruling party has diminished. Goans do not consider them as bearers of their interest. But it does not mean that the opposition set by the grand old party will emerge victorious. Things are a bit complex and cannot be oversimplified. The fact that other players have come into the electoral fray, the overall symbolic capital of both the national parties has definitely slumped. Since some of the old timers have a dubious history in the past, when juxtaposed with the promise of the young and fresh legs from other parties, the Grand Old Party may come across as one refusing to reform. There is no doubt that Goans want change. The ruling dispensation led by the BJP does not seem to have a great chance in 2017. But there is an outside chance for the BJP if the Grand Fathers of the grand old party fail to see beyond themselves both individually and collectively vis-à-vis other parties in the fray. Moreover, with the increasing electoral options that we in Goa have, the main opposition party may look like drained of vision, fatigued with the corrupt ways of some of its old timers and egoistically stuck to itself without any truck with other forces . The enthusiasm of the people to some new comers in the political scenario who exhibit great energy and vision seems to indicate that the political Sanyas may become the end result of electoral process. Therefore, we might say ‘politician refuse to retire’ but the people today are not willing to wait for their elimination through death. The political process and the political acumen of the people seems to be gunning to bring about the political Sanyas of some of the reluctant old timers. May be the grand old party might become a victim in this cross fire.