Friday 12 April 2024

News Analysed, Opinions Expressed

Lessons in the Language of Hate


The GSM, which was formed ostensibly for achieving a "rightful place" for Konkani and Marathi, seems to be talking the language of religious hatred now

You may think that it was Behenji Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that raised allegations about Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) being tampered with. However, much, much closer to home, in our very own Goa, it was Subhash Velingkar's Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM) which claimed that the Goa Assembly election was rigged.

On Monday 20 March, GSM President Anand Shirodkar told the media that "EVMs were set to favour certain political parties”. “We strongly suspect that there was a manipulation in the constituencies where we had contested,” he said, adding that the party was contemplating approaching the Bombay High Court.  

Mr Shirodkar cited a specific example. “In Panaji constituency, the party has a base of 1,500 workers and all had voted for GSM. But our candidate Ketan Bhatikar polled only 323 votes. This is impossible,” he said. Ultimately, its rigging allegation fell by the wayside, as the party did not go to court. But its poster boy in Panaji has now rebelled against his party bosses.

This happened after Mr Shirodkar demanded that Goa's BJP-led coalition government should lift its ban on the Karnataka-based Sri Ram Sene chief Pramod Muthalik from entering the state. The Goa government banned Muthalik’s entry in 2015 after the state Home Department submitted a report that he may create law and order problems.

Ketan Bhatikar disagreed with Shirodkar. "It is unfortunate that the party is playing dirty and divisive politics in the state. I am against it," he told reporters while responding to a query on the GSM's demand. Bhatikar said he was "shocked" by Shirodkar's demand. He said GSM leaders seem to have deviated from the intended goal of the outfit.

Earlier, the GSM had dared the government to ban the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), one of whose central leaders had threatened to impose a "total ban" on beef consumption in Goa within the next two years, "without involving the state government". This open threat to bring North Indian "gau rakshak" vigilante violence to Goa had drawn a sharp reaction from Town and Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardessai.

Supporting the VHP's threats, Shirodkar said: "VHP is not a terror organisation. It is an outfit preaching good things. One should not forget that BJP is in power because of RSS and VHP." But, as Bhatikar pointed out, neither Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar nor Mr Sardessai had talked about a blanket ban on VHP. The latter had only warned that if the VHP forcibly implemented any anti-beef consumption agenda, then it would be banned.

"The GSM, which was formed for achieving the rightful place for our mother tongue, seems to be talking the language of Goan hatred now," Bhatikar said. He is right. The outfit was born from the Bharatiya Bhasha Saurakshan Manch (BBSM), whose sole demand was to promote Konkani and Marathi as the medium of instruction in primary schools in Goa, and the withdrawal of government grants to English medium primary schools. In fact, the party's symbol in the recent elections was the Blackboard.

The GSM was comprehensively rejected by the Goan voters. All its candidates lost their deposits and the party got only 1.2 per cent of the total votes polled. But that is not the point. What is alarming is that this party, which claimed that its mission was "to save culture and language in the state" now seems to be in love with the politics of hate.

GSM's guru Subhash Velingkar publicly accused Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar of being a "U-turn minister" and a "liar". Now that the outfit he founded in the name of Goan languages and culture has religious intolerance and hatred on its tongue, is the shoe on the other foot?

Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author's own.

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Ashwin Tombat

Ashwin Tombat has been the Editor of Gomantak Times and Herald. Worked as an Associate Editor of national magazine Gentleman in Mumbai, before shifting to Goa. Loves sailing, also participates in Marathons. Has worked as an activist in students's union and trade unions in Maharashtra. Also an artist of Street Theatre during student days.


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