Curtains came down on the ‘farewell” two-day winter session of the Goa Legislative Assembly with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat and Speaker of the House Rajesh Patnekar giving soothing speeches highlighting the legislative journey in respective roles. A sense of goodwill and camaraderie prevailed as legislators walked out of the hallowed precincts of the Assembly with a feeling of accomplishment overlooking the differences and the fact that precious little has been achieved during the last five years.
The business conducted in the Legislative Assembly during the term, and the mostly truncated sessions, are testimony to the fact that there was a gross failure and urgency in the normal functioning of the legislature, a fact endorsed by the Opposition time and again. If there was a sense of accomplishment, the CM should have used this opportunity to highlight the pro-people reforms and achievements, rather than acknowledging the role of the Opposition. There was a greater need to introspect on performances and failures, rather than meekly patting each other for being privileged members of the House.
On the flip side, the Leader of the Opposition Digambar Kamat made a soothing reference to the CM over the final day's decision to refer the bills to the select committee and reiterated that it would have been much better if some of the earlier contentious bills were treated likewise. What was most amusing was Kamat's farewell speech raised hopes and prayed for the re-election of all the existing members of the legislative assembly post-2022 elections. This is ridiculous of an Opposition leader whose party has not only been deprived of power but has been rocked by ‘defections’ against which an electoral war is building outside. He may call it ‘the spirit of the House, or otherwise, but such diplomacy is unwarranted and gives an impression that the Congress has buried the hatchet.
Instead of portraying "all is well, that ends well", Kamat should have pondered over the failure of the Opposition, the reasons thereof, and how he managed to hold up against a government that had a brute majority. Leave alone the failures and the meaningless theatrics that some of their members engaged in, he could have, at least, won the confidence of thousands of people watching by telling of how the Opposition stood its ground despite the odds.
The Opposition was content that Sawant agreed to refer two crucial bills -- The Goa (Verification of Tenant) Bill 2021 and The Goa Preservation of Trees (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to the select committee after there were objections to specific sections. This appears a consolation for a minuscule Opposition that has been literally outnumbered and isolated consistently on the floor of the House.
It’s a farewell, but there are political milestones that will leave an indelible mark on this legislative journey – from government formation to bypassing the provisos of the anti-defection law. Lastly, let’s not forget the failure of the judiciary to bring closure to the much-debated disqualification issue.