The “foot in mouth syndrome” is one common syndrome that cuts across party lines. And the problem with this syndrome and the ones who exhibit it is that they become a major source of embarrassment for their parties. No amount of “distancing” cannot undo the damage done by the ones who suffer from the foot in the mouth syndrome. Politics in Goa took a new low when some comments made by a minister courted controversy. The name of the minister is Vijai Sardesai.
Goa tourism minister Vijai Sardesai speaking at the Goa BizFest in Bambolim denounced domestic tourists and also resorted to hate politics. Goa BizFest is organized to share knowledge and ideas about businesses and provides a learning platform for startups. Vijai Sardesai who initially dwelled upon the subject of smart city changed tracks to discuss about the quality of tourists visiting Goa. Later, Vijai Sardesai quickly escalated it to hate politics when he categorically accused the North Indians of trying to create a Haryana in the state of Goa. He further remarked that the domestic tourists are the “scum of the earth“. His remarks came at the backdrop of his belief in attracting rich and foreign tourists which he said the state needs to focus and blamed domestic tourists for all the problems.
Vijai Sardesai’s words came at a time when CM Parikar has expressed desire to attract one crore tourists in Goa.
Goa Tourism Minister Vijai Sardesai belongs to the Forward party which supports the govt and is a minister in the same. These remarks certainly have embarrassed the NDA govt in Goa and has highlighted the quality of allies in the coalition.
This brings to the forefront two reasons as to why stitching an alliance with such parties may harm the BJP especially in its attempts to project itself as a national party.
Firstly, we already have seen politicians like Jignesh Mevani unleashing their divise mindset in Gujarat elections. Even Congress which has ascribed to divide and rule policy is trying to use the caste factor in fighting polls. BJP has actively criticized this brand of politics and promoted development based one. Now, if the allies of the BJP get involved in a hate tirade against the North Indians, it will give more fuel to the opposition to use it in 2019. BJP will be cornered as hypocritical and will put the party in a difficult position.
Secondly, politics based on regionalism is a diseased and decaying concept in Indian politics. In neighboring Maharashtra, MNS led by Raj Thackeray tried to play the son of the soils card and mounted an agitation against the North Indians. Although, MNS may have cut into some Sena votes, but they were miserably rejected by the collective electorate of the state. Regional Supremacy politics has reduced MNS to one seat in assembly elections of 2014. BJP must keep this example in mind while aligning with such parties in Goa and must realise its impact on national politics.
Lastly, it’s imperative for the BJP to take a stern position in this regard. It should not only ask the minister to take back his words but also must sack him for his derogatory barbs. Manohar Parikar needs to send strict under currents to other parties of the coalition that they have to adhere to a certain decorum in order to be a part of the govt. The Forward party has three MLAs in the Parikar govt which gives it a slender majority. Even if there may be a risk of pushing the BJP govt in to minority, Parikar needs to crack the whip and send the message across the table.
First it was PDP in Kashmir and now it is Forward party in Goa, BJP has been embarrassed by it’s allies in public domain. Perhaps it’s a wake alarm for the BJP govt in Goa and they must caution themselves with the kind of political alliances they are making for their expansion and growth. Hate politics has been practiced for too long in the country in different forms and formats. It’s time to make it extinct from the political landscape of the country and it’s necessary to set an example.