Vice-President of India, Venkaiah Naidu's message to legislators was loud and clear. On the Legislator’s Day, the VP minced no words while speaking on core duties, responsibilities and failures of legislators. His lines find greater relevance in Goa which is on the boil over various projects, and where legislators appear to be falling short of people's expectations.
Naidu spoke on how legislators are supposed to empower people, and not themselves. He urged MLAs to develop a strong connect with people they represent and assess and understand their difficulties and aspirations. He spoke on the failures of representatives to live up to the aspirations of people, and the trust deficit with people's perceptions about legislators. He highlighted character based on moral integrity, the capacity to understand and deliver after carefully considering the emerging complexities and the need for effective communication with people.
Perhaps, the vice-president has struck a raw nerve in Goa, but there were lessons to learn for the lawmakers, and there couldn't be a better day. Legislators are the voices of the people in the Legislative Assembly, and they are expected to raise questions and seek answers from the government on issues that concern their constituents. They play a major role in the framing laws besides playing an active part in policy decisions. A duty-bound legislator must discuss, debate and engage government on issues affecting people.
The narrative in Goa, however, has been distinctly different. The hesitancy, and in some cases an eerie silence in seeking answers on burning issues facing Goans have been the hallmarks. Ironically, many legislators have failed the test of integrity which Naidu spoke of, and the lines of communication have remained distorted. Empowering people has never been the primary objective of any legislator.
If debating issues and making laws are the prime duties of representatives, why have legislators not insisted on an assembly session? When life has raced back to life in Goa and festivity has gone into overdrive, why was there a reluctance to hold assembly sessions? Why are there truncated sessions? Employees have returned to work, teachers and students are attending school, while legislators are abstaining from legislative duties out of Covid fear. The hypocrisy is clear as daylight. There's more to this. If legislators are in the fear of Covid, why are they chasing political agendas by joining agitations and crowds, the very leaders who fear getting infected in the hallowed precincts of the legislative assembly.
Legislators need to seriously introspect and re-assess their roles, duties vis-a-vis the commitments to the people of Goa. They need to accept failures and be honest with their duties. People's needs should be the priority, not vested interests and sheer lust for power. There has to be a change in the thought process, and legislators need to play a pro-active role engaging the government at every level with people’s issues. Otherwise, the commemoration of Legislator’s Day will remain a symbolic, meaningless and farcical celebration year after year where local ministers only belt out scripted speeches and speak of fiction.