The 2-day training session for elected representatives began on Monday on a dismal note with almost the entire Opposition MLAs boycotting the programme. The Congress party on Sunday had decided to skip the event on the directives of the high command, citing “unnecessary spending” on hospitality, while also showing a visible discomfort to Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini that was roped in for the exercise.
Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini is an academy based in Thane, Maharashtra, and is known for the training and orientation of socio-political activities and has been a centre for public awakening and research. The credentials of the NGO as an educator and counsellor is not a matter of debate here. What is questionable is the way the workshop was conducted. Moreover, when the Goa Legislature Secretariat was the organiser, we fail to understand why it was not held on the Secretariat premises since the government has been talking about austerity and cutting down expenditure.
Secondly, if the government had genuine concerns of first-time MLAs that formed nearly half of the strength of the House, then any exercise on orientation, training and education should have been broadly in consultation and consensus. This is not classroom education, we need to understand that we live in a fair democracy where leaders are elected by the people of respective constituencies. Ideally, legislators in the ruling and the Opposition should have had separate sessions according to the roles and responsibilities they have in the House. Apart from the generic leadership counselling, legislators should be trained in skills tailored to their standing in the Assembly.
While the positive this time is that Goa is set to witness a full-scale monsoon Legislative session after a long time, the downside is that the Opposition is defanged with fiery voices in the House switching sides in the 2022 assembly elections. When the flavour of politics has been about defections with two-thirds factions (read mergers), the purpose of grooming and honing the skills of legislators lose relevance. The focus should have been on the malaise that has gripped Goan politics.
The need of the hour, especially in Goa, is to teach legislators lessons on moral credibility, institutional integrity and self-righteousness that are the foundation stones of any democracy. Drilling these into legislators and the Goan political system is a priority given the notoriety that Goa has attained in politics.
Yes, it is not only the first-time MLAs, but the entire political system — old and new, and those aspiring to be legislators that need training sessions on ethical and selfless politics, where other subjects like orientation and leadership skills can be an add-on.
Finally, Goa needs parliamentarians and legislators of the past who have an unblemished record and an unwavering commitment to Goa to hold discourses and be role models to our current crop of public representatives. They should be the guiding light for the new generation, instilling virtues that could inspire a change in the political system.