By PACHU MENON

Struggling to come out of pandemic-induced disasters, Goa and Kerala, as the two states which nearly match each other in high literacy rates that they are renowned for, upset all calculations when it came to their approach to the assembly elections.

While the election results in the south-western coastal state baffled poll pundits, the Pearl of the Orient is well on its way to script a new electoral history where conceivably for the first time, candidates and not the parties, will have a major say in the formation of the next government.  

If India’s ‘model state’ Kerala accounted for more than half of the country’s daily Covid cases a few months back, the southern state’s prototypical political attributes too are a matter of contemplation for the rest of the nation.

With the LDF and the UDF slugging it out every five years with none assured of a successive second term in power for almost four decades, the pattern of governance where both the political factions helmed the affairs of the state alternately did bode well for Kerala.

But with the UDF denied their ‘rightful’ accession to power this time by the electorate, has a new trend been set in motion where the people have decided that sticking to a fixed pattern may not always bring in the desired results!

With climatic catastrophes and the pandemic testing the Left Democratic Front government in Kerala, was it the effective handling of the calamitous situations that changed public perceptions about the efficacy of the alternating strategy endorsed by the electorate which tilted the scales in favour of another tenure in office for the Pinarayi government!

While it becomes difficult to say whether the pandemic brought out the best in the red-brigade of Kerala so as to enamour the locals there to endorse a second consecutive term for the LDF, it is for a fact that its ‘kit policy’ decisively turned the tables on the UDF.

This modus operandi was replicated by political dispensations in Goa. But how effectively – that remains to be seen!

Akin to the masses expecting miracles from those seeking to propagate a particular faith, the electorate has to be lulled into a feeling of security for it to be convinced about the ‘people-friendliness’ of various parties, even if they are only fleeting ones. 

More than the long-term benefits, it is the interim ‘welfare’ measures tendered by a party that appears to gain public endorsement in this highly competitive era of politics.

‘Five-year’ plans are obsolete now. People in search of quick returns on investments made are not all that patient. The dedication of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period of time has begun to take on a new meaning.

Just as in finance the purpose of investing is to generate a return from the invested asset, politics in its new avatar portends to extend beyond its already limitless boundaries to gain a more commercial bearing to it.

“In a ‘sting operation’ aired by a news channel, it was alleged that Congress and TMC candidates in Goa indulged in horse-trading and discussed plans to change parties if need be post the election. They also allegedly spoke about business opportunities, benefits and crores of money.” (India Today, February 13, 2022)

Both the parties however claimed that the video had been doctored and blamed another political party for circulating the fake news. After the CEO took cognizance of their complaints, the video was taken off the air.

For a state that has witnessed a spate of ridiculous defection-exercises over the past few years, the lure of money for enticing ‘prospective’ candidates into the fold, so to speak, cannot come as a shocking revelation of the political proceedings in vogue.

However, to be fair to the prospective MLAs, if the right to represent an electoral district could be settled for thirty pieces of silver, as has been happening in every election so far, why should they be denied their active participation in ‘auction’ games which allows them to switch sides and align with the highest bidder!

It is this crass commercialisation of politics which has epitomised itself in such unsavoury trends. However, the ‘advance’ horse-trading – if the above allegations have even an iota of truth to it – is indicative of the emergence of a new brand of politics in Goa.

When thought of as gains to be made against the proper investments done, such scenario will prompt many to delve into the business of politics. Just as sharks are attracted to the scent of blood, the heady cocktail of money and power is not that easy to resist for human beings. 

Politics is however a totally different ball-game altogether! Calling for transparencies in the present political set-up would amount to a sham considering that ‘straightforwardness’ as a virtue is not in the lexicon of a modern-day politician. Political intrigue and subterfuge are terms that exemplify the way politics works in the state today. But having said that, it is however the changing patterns in modern day politics that has kept alive the interest associated with the proceedings which have otherwise been robbed of its sheen by the drab and monotonous ways of the players in the last few decades.

It would always be considered underhanded to poach members from the opposition camp, but all’s fair in love and war. This is apparently the latest diktat for party honchos.

Politics, especially in Goa, has come alive all of a sudden. And what better a time than the assembly elections to herald the portentous plans ‘hatched’! While it is more than obvious that continuity of government is a new challenge for the LDF in Kerala, Goa on the same note is being tempted into accepting a new version of electoral politics which could well alter the way politics in general would be played out in the state henceforth.

Moving away from traditions to accommodate the more coarse and opportunistic – though seemingly more acceptable and convenient – mode of politics, is Goa showing the way for the nation to follow in its ‘trend-setting’ footsteps!

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