When Goa governor P S Sreedharan Pillai visited Salcete over the weekend, it was meant to be one of the courtesy visits that he has frequently been undertaking to interact with the locals and feel their pulse. However, the response to his visit was so overwhelming that people prepared petitions and threw pointed questions, completely catching him off guard. Fortunately, it was with some quick thinking that the governor managed to wriggle out of a tight situation.
The governor faced a bunch of petitions on double tracking, coal transportation, western bypass on stilts, flooding, and the vexed port limits issue. Pillai had no option but to remind the people that Raj Bhavan is not an executive authority while assuring that he would go through the petitions presented by the villagers. "Within the limits as a governor, I would like to do maximum for the poor people and the suffering patients," was the governor's humble reply.
When the governor visited Salcete villages like Colva, Benaulim, Seraulim, Chinchinim, Assolna, Sarzora, Carmona, Orlim, and Sao Jose de Areal he was seen as an envoy and a broker of peace. Placed before him were the very issues that people had taken up cudgels against the government and fought fierce battles, even putting lives at the forefront.
While people approaching him with their issues despite being conscious of the fact that he may not be in a position to help the cause only amplifies the seriousness and a state of helplessness that people find themselves in. It reflects a sense of despondency and a burning desire to be heard at every level, irrespective of faint or nil chances of outcomes. The governor's initiative to visit villages and interiors of rural Goa is a welcome step that could open up new hopes among people. It certainly would go a long way in building bridges with people and kindling new confidence in the governor's office.
However, with increased expectations and against the background that this exercise may not bring about any resolution through mediation, Pillai could face a dilemma of sorts. Issues like double tracking, coal expansion, and port limits have remained non-negotiable for years, and his intervention will not help. Moreover, a governor attending the petitions will throw critical questions within the government circles.
Against people's expectations, all eyes will now be on the governor for delivery and establishing his foothold in villages. That's a tricky equation and will put tremendous pressure on Pillai, given the outreach he has initiated. It remains to be seen whether he could win the hearts of people by becoming that all-important glue that binds the government and the people of Goa as the State marches ahead.