Goa may have witnessed a subdued Diwali celebration this year because of the pandemic, but Cuncolim constituency MLA Clafacio Dias ignited a new flame on the eve of the festival of lights. While standing with the protestors against double-tracking and coal transportation, he asserted that he would resign as an MLA if the double-tracking works at Chandor are not put on hold. He sent out a clear message to his government that he is not convinced.
In sharp contrast, on Thursday last, when protesters called on Water Resources Minister and Salcete's lone minister Felipe Neri Rodrigues to clarify his stand on the issues, the Velim MLA chose to engage in diplomacy. He assured the people that he would convey the sentiments of the people to the chief minister and refused to commit to anything more.
Cortalim MLA, Alina Saldanha, after her initial silence has positioned herself firmly with the people, slamming the CM for ignoring the destruction to the environment. She continues to champion the cause of people affected by double-tracking. Mormugao MLA Milind Naik and Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida have verbally extended their support to people, but have preferred not to come out openly in the opposition.
MLAs are a crucial link between the government and people; they have a pivotal role to play and need to feel the pulse of the people. It is time all the seven MLAs representing constituencies affected by the projects make their positions very clear instead of insulating themselves by choosing the middle ground. Legislators cannot walk the middle-path and become mere messengers, they need to wear their hearts on their sleeves and if the situation demands quit from office and embrace people. What stops Alina from taking such a hard-line stand like Clafacio, instead of only expressing disappointment over failures of the government?
In a recent press briefing, BJP State President Sadanand Tanavde defended the controversial projects and spoke on how they will benefit the people of Goa. He was justifying on how government can't go to its people seeking permissions on all development projects. This is unacceptable because the projects in question are not petty ones. People of Goa are partners in progress of the State and cannot be mute spectators to the destruction happening in the name of development. Works of such magnitude must have the people's mandate and hence the representatives need to be very clear on which side of the fence they are.
The MLAs and ministers must shed their saffron robes and walk their talk. There's no space for any more diplomacy or pretences of supporting people's agitation. Let all assurances of coal capping stop. Let the Railways not tell us that double-tracking is going to be game-changer for Goa. Let the people of the State decide the future. The talk of development needs a much broader debate among people first.