Monday, May 9, 2011

Digambar - a Politician with a Difference

Digambar - a Politician with a Difference
By Nandkumar Kamat

The most interesting development after the election is the formation of a Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and independents alliance government led by a new face, Margao’s popular MLA, Mr Digambar Kamat.
I know him as a politician since 1994. My first impression of him as a cultured, mature, people-friendly, god-fearing politician, has lasted till date, despite his 2005 homecoming.  The Bharatiya Janata Party had entered the Goa assembly in 1994 with just four MLAs. I was voluntarily guiding the then independent, newly elected MLA from Santa Cruz, Ms Victoria Fernandes in her assembly work and had to often interact with all the MLAs. But there was a special equation between the opposition BJP and MGP MLAs. The ex-CM of Goa and at present, the Leader of Opposition, Mr Parrikar was learning his political ropes. He was at his dynamic best in the assembly and had become the darling of the press. Mr Digambar Kamat also came fully prepared for the Assembly sessions, carrying his usual briefcase. He actively participated in the business and in his unique oratorical style used to emphasize his points well, impressing the treasury benches.
The then CM, Mr Rane was full of praise for him and the MGP MLA from Pali, Professor Sadanand Malik. Mr Rane, with his long experience in politics and social sphere, has an excellent yardstick to judge people and politicians. Therefore, I was not surprised that those who supported Mr Rane for another term after the recent elections, threw their lot in favour of Mr Kamat, when consensus over local Congress chief, Ponda MLA Mr Ravi Naik could not materialize.
Contrary to the picture projected by a section of the press, Mr Kamat and Mr Ravi Naik enjoy an excellent personal relationship and I have no doubt in my mind that if the political situation so demands in future, Mr Kamat would be willing to vacate the chair for Mr Naik without any grudge or bitterness. Mr Kamat and Mr Naik share many common things-both are down-to-earth politicians. Both are ex-sportspersons. Both have been excellent grass roots level organizers. Both have risen from municipal level politics. Both are avowedly secular and enjoy the full trust and confidence of the minorities. Both mix easily among the common people and both do not carry any ideological baggage.  Most important-both do not engage into politics of hatred against their opponents or use uncivilized language unbecoming of a cultured personality. Mr Kamat did not lobby for the chief minister’s post. He was the obvious choice because many MLAs trust him and have faith in him, in his aptitude and abilities.  Since 1999, Mr Kamat has done full justice to whichever portfolio he had handled. He created history in India by transforming Goa’s power sector. And given a few more years under his stewardship Goa may attain self-reliance in the power sector. A chief minister needs good leadership qualities. Mr Kamat has proved himself on this front. As a caring minister for art and culture, he planned innovative schemes for neglected artists and today Goa’s art and culture department has won national praise from the Planning Commission of the Union government. Goa is the first and the only state in the country to have its’ own cultural policy.
Mr Kamat, unlike many self-righteous and egoistic politicians, is a thoroughbred democrat. He believes in listening to the people, the professionals, the experts, the NGOs before making decisions. His remarkable quality is that he is not touchy or hypersensitive to criticism. I have been carefully monitoring the hatred campaign launched against him after he left BJP. It reached its’ peak after the notorious Sanvordem riots. It crossed all levels of civility during the recent election campaign. The vicious campaign may be intensified again because of petty and childish political jealousies. There would be deliberate attempts to drive a wedge of mistrust between him and Mr Ravi Naik and foment trouble. If everything fails then the issue of caste and casteism could be conveniently raked up.
Mr Kamat would have probably stagnated at number two position in BJP. Destiny has rewarded him now with a number one position. It does not matter how long he rules as long as he can deliver. Mr Kamat has his own mind and does not need prompting from anyone. Nobody labelled Mr Francisco Sardinha as a ‘dummy’ chief minister despite knowing that he was remote controlled by the BJP. But people’s memory is short. In past 13 years I have not seen any change in the working style of Mr Digambar Kamat. Power did not go to his head. He had been always approachable and accessible. Once I had woken him up at midnight to complain about a power cut at the Goa University. He personally visited the campus with engineers and a long-term plan was drawn up to improve the power supply. His approach is ‘solution oriented’ and if he does not become victim of petty jealousies and crab mentality, Goa would see much better governance under his chief ministership.
However, his growing popularity and a down to earth approach may create enemies for him within and outside the alliance government as time passes. If his cabinet colleagues fail to work as team and those who fail to become ministers try new permutations to get to power then with, without and inspite of BJP’s positive or negative intervention, Goa would be compelled to face a midterm poll. History has brought worst of political foes Mr Ravi Naik and Mr Dhavalikar together in Mr Kamat’s cabinet. Despite his abilities, Mr Luizinho Faleiro could not get even a year to prove himself as chief minister. He was victim of the dissent. Politicians never learn from the past mistakes and then they blame themselves once out of power. People of Goa have certain expectations from the secular-alliance government. It needs to have a common minimum programme and a co-ordination committee of supporting parties and the independents. Mr Kamat has the ability to take the people with him. If he steers clear from potentially controversial issues and focuses on toning up the day-to-day administration, then automatically people of Goa would stand solidly behind him. All the power flows from the will of the common people. Mr Kamat in his first meeting with the civil servants has already made his intentions clear. He needs to make the CM’s office an effective and receptive, people-friendly communication centre. History has given him a chance to lead from the front. Undeterred by uncharitable criticism, he should finally prove himself as Goa’s finest statesman.

No comments:

Post a Comment