PAK KEEPS PARRIKAR BUSY

And a few more stray thoughts and a few more observations for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when war clouds were looming over India and Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the cross border terrorism of Pakistan also frustrated defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s efforts to neutralise the revolt by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) cadres led by Subhash Velingkar. For a Saturday following the week when the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) supremo Sudhin Dhavalikar claimed that more than 20 current and former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs were keen on joining the MGP. For a Saturday following the week when chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar made a virtue of necessity in defending grants to English medium private primary schools supported by the church. For the Saturday following the week when the government was wooing youth with the offer of SIM cards and free talktime and data.
Dark War Cloud
And a few stray thoughts on the war clouds hovering over India and Goa. In the wake of the latest terrorist attack on the army’s Uri camp in Jammu, there are stringent demands that India strike back. The tone has been set by senior RSS leader Ram Madhav, who is in charge of Jammu & Kashmir, insisting that for every tooth we lose we should get a whole jaw.
This is a much greater threat than Hammurabbi’s eye for an eye law which promotes proportionate retaliation. Madhav is suggesting a stronger response almost similar to the US reaction to the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin World Trade Centre towers in New York. Al Qaeda was charged with crashing two hijacked aircraft into the towers in the attack.
The US used this to launch a full-fledged war against Afghanistan for allegedly sheltering attack mastermind Osama Bin Laden. Thousands of Afghan civilians have died in the war launched by then US president George Bush. Finally it was not in Afghanistan, but in Pakistan that the US cornered Bin Laden and had him killed in a meticulously planned air strike at his Karachi residence.
In the wake of the Uri attack, even prime minister Narendra Modi has declared that it is time to hit back. Television channels, particularly the Hindi ones, are provoking the government claiming that not to strike back would be an insult to the jawans who had sacrificed their lives in defending the country from cross border terror.
The incident is the second time in nine months that Pakistani-trained terrorists have managed to breach the heavy security of air and land bases and cause heavy damage to our forces. The number of causalities in Uri which had mounted to 20 was much higher than in Patankot. What is provoking anger is that just four militants killed more than 20 jawans and injured another 30.
Missile Strike
The defence forces have apparently been given the green signal to hit back. The director general of military operations has made it clear that the country has the capacity to respond to such acts of aggression and reserved the right to hit back at a time and place of our choosing.
Among the most favoured options are air strikes on terror camps in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK). India has a superior air force capable of striking targets within Pakistan. But this may involve loss of lives and aircraft which will reduce the already limited fleet of fighter aircraft. Unlike developed countries, India does not have unmanned drones.
The other options are raids by special forces similar to those by Pakistan militants or even BrahMos missiles which can be fired from India to target key terrorists in Pakistan.
Effect on Goa
The hawks are in a majority and have support from the BJP, RSS and Modi. In fact, the prime minister may welcome a war with Pakistan as a victory will divert attention from his failure to deliver acche din. There has been no growth since he took charge and Make in India has become Make for India. Like Indira Gandhi during the Bangladesh war, Modi might decide to become a hero if he starts a war against Pakistan.
The only fear is of militants and Pakistani forces are close to the militants using nuclear weapons against India. Goa will not remain unaffected in case of war as it is the largest naval airbase in the country. A major casualty for Goa will be the peak tourism season which begins in October. Dabolim airport also belongs to the navy and will be closed for civil traffic if there is war.
And a few stray thoughts on how Pakistan has indirectly sabotaged defence minister Manohar Parrikar’s attempts to strike back against Subhash Velingkar for his revolt against the BJP. Admittedly, Parrikar was able to get the RSS high command in Nagpur to sack him as chief of the Goa unit.
But Velingkar has demonstrated that he continues to be supported by majority of the RSS workers in Goa. Parrikar made an attempt to solve the problem by visiting him during Ganesh Chaturthi. But Velingkar has refused to change his demand that grants to English-medium primary schools supported by the church should be suspended. Even worse for Parrikar, the new RSS chief is also against grants to church schools.
Parrikar was hoping to spend the weekend and may be the rest of the month to boost the morale of the BJP workers. He addressed a meeting at which Laxmikant Parsekar for the first time attacked Velingkar. Preferring to fire from other people’s shoulders, Parrikar remained silent and did not directly attack Velingkar. But he warned the MGP against fishing in the BJP’s troubled waters. Parrikar said he would camp in Goa and tour the state to ensure that BJP returns to power.
Bharat Raksha
It looks as if Pakistan will not allow Parrikar to spent enough time in Goa to repair the damage caused by the RSS revolt. Parrikar had to cancel all his meetings and rush to Kashmir after the Uri terror attack.
With the top leadership, including Modi in the mood to strike back, Parrikar will have to pay more attention to his job as Raksha Mantri. He cannot counter terror from Pakistan or mastermind strikes sitting in Goa. There are serious questions being raised about his frequent absence from Delhi. Even Modi is not happy that he spends more time in Goa than Delhi.
Parrikar will have to decide whether Goa is more important than the country or resign from the defence post and return to Goan politics. The BJP cannot win the 2017 assembly elections without Parrikar. And Parrikar cannot devote enough time to the BJP in Goa as long as he is defence minister, and Pakistan continues to escalate terror attacks in Kashmir.
English Medium
And a few stray thoughts on Parsekar making a virtue of necessity. At the recent rally of BJP workers, the chief minister, who is also education minister, made it clear that grants to the 135 English medium primary schools run by the church will be continued. He has rejected the BBSM and MGP demand to suspend the grants, insisting that the BJP was a secular party and had to stand by its commitment to the minority community.
The real reason of course is that in the light of the revolt in the RSS, it has become all the more important for the BJP to retain the support of the minority Catholic community. As Parsekar pointed out, as many as six of the 21 MLAs who were elected on the BJP ticket in the 2012 elections were from the Catholic community.
In addition, there are four more MLAs from the Catholic community who are independents or part of the Goa Vikas Party supporting the BJP government. It was Parrikar who – Mayawati-style – decided to seek the support of the minority Catholic community in 2012.
The Catholics have always trusted Parrikar as an honest and able administrator unlike the Congress leaders. But if the BJP suspends grants to Catholic schools, it will lose this support. It is doubtful if the Catholics will seek or accept tickets from the BJP in the light of the growing intolerance of other religions by the BJP and the RSS.
Catholic Support
Unlike in other states, the BJP is dependent on the minority community in Goa. As many as 10 seats in South Goa are dominated by the Catholic community. A new factor is the Muslim community, which does not trust the BJP. So the BJP in Goa has to take a secular stand unlike in other BJP-ruled states.
This is why there has been no ban on beef in Goa. In Maharashtra it is a criminal offence to even eat beef, leave alone slaughter the cow. It is in the interest of protecting the Latin culture of Goa, a main tourist attraction, that Parrikar did not allow Pramod Muthalik of the Ram Sena to set up office here. Muthalik has been legally restrained from entering Goa. The Amit Shah formula of polarising voters on communal lines does not work in Goa as Parrikar and now Parsekar have realised.
And a few stray thoughts on the MGP being the main beneficiary of the political situation in Goa. When cats fight, it is the monkey which runs away with the cake. Similarly, the RSS revolt has frightened MGP MLAs. They are afraid that the RSS will work against them. At the same time they see no hope of the BJP suspending grants to English-medium schools run by the church. Unlike the BJP, the MGP has been supporting the BBSM. Shashikala Kakodkar, education minister in the Progressive Democratic Front (PDF) government in 1990, had suspended grants to English-medium schools.
She headed an MGP government for five years and is the daughter of Goa’s first chief minister Dayanand Bandokar of the MGP who passed the order limiting grants only to schools imparting education in the local languages. Until Digambar Kamat permitted Catholic schools to switch back to English, all language schools including Kannada, Tamil, Urdu, Hindi, as well as Konkani and Marathi got grants except English medium schools.
Leaders Defect
MGP ruled Goa for the first 18 years after liberation. It was backstabbed by its leaders. Ravi Naik and Ramakanth Khalap killed the MGP by defecting to join the PDF and the Congress because they could not live without power. It was riding on the strength of MGP workers that BJP came to power. MGP workers and Hindu Goa is still committed to the lion symbol of the MGP. So we are not surprised by Dhavlikar’s statement that many sitting and former BJP MLAs are in talks to join the MGP.
The confusion in the Congress is also helping the MGP. Many MLAs belonging to the majority Hindu community are afraid that they will lose if they contest on the Congress ticket. Pandurang Madkaikar, twice elected from Cumbarjua on a Congress ticket, wants to join the MGP. Independent MLA from Bicholim Naresh Sawal, who was not given a ticket by the party, has been offered an MGP ticket. It is also possible that Rohan Khaunte who won as an independent will join the MGP.
There is a strong possibility of the MGP going it alone in 2017. The alliance with the BJP may not continue since there are fears that the RSS revolt will make the lotus wilt. The MGP is demanding 27 tickets from the BJP.
In the last elections, the MGP was given seven seats out of which they won three. The situation this time is very different and observers feel that the MGP has a good chance of emerging as the single largest party in the state. The lion may start roaring again after an 18-year break.
Wooing Youth
And a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. The BJP in Goa has made women happy with the Laadli Laxmi Scheme and the Grihadhar Scheme. Inflation allowance of `1200 under the Grihadhar scheme has been raised to `1500. The amount under the Dayanand Pension Schemes for senior citizens has also been increased to `5000. As Parsekar has admitted, nothing has been done for the youth.
During his first term as chief minister, Parrikar had introduced a pre-employment training scheme (PETS) under which a lot of young people got an allowance of `5000 to `10,000 and were trained for government jobs. Many were absorbed and given permanent jobs when vacancies came up.
In the first budget after the 2012 election, Parrikar had announced a similar scheme for youth. When Modi became prime minister, he also introduced a scheme for imparting skills, during which a stipend would be paid. Due to suspension of mining and lack of funds, the scheme was not implemented. To make up for it, Parsekar has promised to provide mobile phone connections to youth.
If you cannot afford bread, ‘eat cake’ seems to be the Parsekar principle. From October, all youth between 18 and 35 years will get a mobile phone connection with 100 minutes of free talk time and 1GB data every month. And no doubt, the IT minister will make a lot of money from the contract.

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