Divert, Divide and Conquer

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The legislative elections in Goa are fast approaching and voices that blame the past and promise a golden future have become laud. We are bound to see a spike in the voices that will do everything to woe the voters to their agenda. With new actors trying their luck in the political space of Goa, we are bound to see stormy weather that some of us may enjoy watching but the real challenge is for everyone for us is to stay focused without being distracted about our role as enlightened citizens. We are certainly facing corporatization of politics with the coming of Modi’s era. It has put our democracy in crisis. Our votes, our democratic representatives, our democratic institutions as well as constitutional institutions etc., have now become raw material for the economic elite to build his wealth. The silence of our parliament and the making of laws without debate, the deprivation of the rights of the minorities, the fall in the levels of rule of law, the rise of the wealth share of the economic elite, the decline in media ethics seem to indicate that we are experiencing a decline of peoples democracy and are seeing the rise of what may be named as authoritarian democracy.

There may be other adjectives to accurately describe the state of democracy in our country. Political Scientist, Christophe Jaffrelot has christened the state of democracy as Ethnic Democracy in his book, Modí’s India: Hindu Nationalism and the Rise of Ethnic democracy. He says that this Indian variant of Ethnic Democracy is very close to the Ethnic Democracy in Israel that considers the Jews as De Iure citizens and others as citizens de facto. Things are complex and cannot be described with simplified descriptions. It seems to have become a crime to be poor as well as to be a minority in India of today.

While we can painfully see our neighbouring Karnataka on a communal boil, we cannot say that this venom will not touch Goa and Goans. Our experience seems to indicate that violence and rioting have been used as a double sword by the Chanakaya’s of the BJP. It has worked to polarise society and has paid an electoral dividend to them. This means the ruling benches use not just divide and rule but also divert and rule policy. We as citizens are being disempowered by the power of the old British colonial policy that we all call, ‘divide and rule’. Divide and rule policy has always worked because it was practically a policy that diverts and rules. The colonizers did not want an enlightened citizenry. Hence, they diverted our attention from real issues and legitimate freedoms and made us believe that we are first Hindus and Muslims. This diversion metamorphosed into caste politics in several areas in independent India where we did not cast our vote but voted our caste.

In today’s India, the disempowering of our citizenship continues and we have landed again into the British divide and rule policy that has once more diverted our attention and led us to believe that we are Hindus first. It may be because of this belief that we have given a long rope to the Government’s excesses as well as failures on the economic front. Our executive, judiciary as well as media seem to have failed us. This and other factors have collectively led to the death of the citizen in us and has given birth to what is called a majoritarian or ethnic democracy. The citizen in us is wounded and held captive while the Hindu, Muslim and the other Minority in us is on the prowl giving political dividends to the right-wing and economic dividends to its cronies.

Goa is also not free from this attack on the office of citizenship. The recent rent of the Chief Minister concerning the temples destroyed by the Portuguese is a clear attempt to divert, divide and rule. The corruption charges, the sex scandal and the disapproval of the people of the three linear projects clearly may have compelled the CM to make that hate ridden statement. While doing so it seems that CM seems to have put an axe on the feet of his very own catholic MLA’s who were imported from the congress to strengthen his Government. The political condition in Goa has become entirely turbulent and indicates that our seasoned politicians and some of the political parties have demonstrated that they disregard the citizens as they continue to trade on the political capital that the people of Goa had entrusted them.

Several of these seasoned politicians have become jumping jacks and political parties that welcome them seem to have become cover for their inefficient work, shady deals that seem to point to sheer financial incentives to abandon the party that nurtured their political career and dent its political capital. Congress seems to have become a chief victim whose political capital is sold by its own leaders for thirty silver pieces. Some say that politics is an empty space and it can be grabbed by anyone who has the acumen to seize it. It does not seem to be true. What we see in Goa is an active voiding of the political space indulged by the political players like the BJP, TMC and even APP. What we are seeing is the selling of the political capital by the old Goan political leaders who actually had once nursed themselves on a nourishing diet of the old parties. This seems to demonstrate that the corporatization of our politics in Goa has come full circle. Like elsewhere in India, we can also see how ‘divert, divide and conquer policy’ is employed by the political masters. Therefore, we have to hold our heads as citizens and resist these diversionary tactics that dodge the real issues. It is time that we let the citizen in us stand up otherwise we are in real danger of being overrun by the corporatization of politics that will divide us to gain political mileage and unleash the next spiral of the destruction of Go, Goykar and Goykarpon.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao