NO ONE WANTS CONGRESS TICKET

HOLOCAUST: Defence minister Manohar Parrikar may unleash a nuclear holocaust with his talk of the right to first use of the deadly weapons

AND a few more stray thoughts and a few more observations for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when in a case of the devil citing the scriptures, prime minister Narendra Modi adorned the robes of Emperor Akbar. For a Saturday following the week when chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar behaved in a very servile manner before Modi who chose to ignore him. For a Saturday following the week when there was a general body meeting of all the politicians of Goa irrespective of their party affiliation to celebrate the wedding of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state vice president Dr Wilfred Mesquita’s son. For a Saturday following the week when the Congress found it difficult to choose candidates for the forthcoming assembly elections. For a Saturday following the week when the common man continued to suffer due to the acute shortage of legitimate currency.

MODI AS AKBAR

AND a few stray thoughts on Narendra Modi transforming himself into Akbar at a function to lay foundation stones for the new Mopa airport. The BJP has historically hated Mughal emperors. The Sangh Parivar demolished the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya despite claims that it was built by Akbar’s grandfather Babar. The BJP strongly opposed the celebration of the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan, the Muslim ruler who fought Shivaji. Yet when Modi wanted to praise Manohar Parrikar, he fell back on an example from the court of Akbar.

Unlike Modi, the Muslim-origin, Akbar was a very secular leader. He encouraged people of all religions and gave them high positions in his court. His favourites were called his navratanas or jewels. This included Birbal The Wise and Tansen the musician besides Mansingh who headed the army.

In Goa, Modi called Parrikar one of the brightest jewels in his cabinet. Later in the evening, an industrialist present at the function told Parrikar how proud Goans were about the praise showered on him by the prime minister. Parrikar himself seems unaffected, as unlike many of Modi’s cabinet colleagues, he has a strong since of self-worth and does not require praise from others. Moreover, Parrikar played a major role in Modi’s journey from Gujarat to New Delhi.

SIMPLE PARRIKAR

PARRIKAR has retained his simplicity and at least in Goa does not go around with a whole battalion of commandos. The defence minister is very accessible unlike other central ministers. Even when he was chief minister, he seldom used the police pilot jeep and on many occasions drove his own car. Parrikar has also refused to switch to the Modi jacket and continues to wear his trademark bush shirt and chappals. Even at the BRICS summit he stuck to his traditional simple clothes. But Parrikar has a tendency to make dangerous statements which get him into trouble.

Every country is committed to not using nuclear weapons. Having these deadly weapons is seen as a deterrent and not as an offensive measure, because of their potential to cause enormous damage. The world has not forgotten the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where nuclear bombs were dropped to force Japan’s surrender during the World War II.

Ironically, Parrikar made his remarks on retaining the right to first use of nuclear weapons when Modi was on a visit to Japan. Incidentally, Japan has agreed to supply India nuclear equipment and fuel in violation of the stand taken by the nuclear suppliers group.

Admittedly, India has not signed the nuclear non-proliferation agreement, which bans the export of nuclear technology to third world countries. Pakistan is reported to have got its nuclear technology from China and Iran. One of the biggest fears is that these weapons, particularly in countries like Pakistan and Iran, may fall into the hands of the terrorists. For over a decade now, no new nuclear weapons have been created and existing stock piles of the US and former Soviet Union were destroyed.

NUCLEAR BOMBS

IT IS shocking to hear India’s defence minister insisting that the ban on first use of nuclear weapons was not fair. This implies that India will be free to use nuclear weapons not to defend itself but to take offensive action. There is a dreadful possibility that the next surgical strike may be carried out with nuclear war heads.

Many of our fighter aircraft and submarines are equipped with nuclear war heads. We are not surprised over Pakistan’s warning about nuclear attacks. But it is certainly not expected in the land of Mahatma Gandhi that a defence minister should even consider a pre-emptive strike with nuclear weapon.

The Raksha Mantri has been quick to clarify that these are his personal views and not those of the government. But Modi has not contradicted him. Nuclear weapons are inhuman and there should not be any irresponsible talk of first use, particularly by responsible nuclear powers like India.

SERVILE PARSEKAR

AND a few stray thoughts on the servile behaviour of chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar at the function to lay the foundation stone of the Mopa airport. In a viral video clip, he is shown behaving like a beggar seeking alms. In fact the video has been set to the chant of “de de, allah ke naam pai paise de de” .

It shows him adopting a very servile attitude, almost like a dog desperately seeking the attention of its master. At one stage, he grabs the glass of water offered by the security guard and hands it to Modi. Throughout the exchange, Modi does not even look at him.

We can understand Parsekar’s anxiety to please Modi. He is desperate to continue as chief minister of Goa, and wants to be projected as the chief ministerial candidate in the assembly elections in 2017. Parrikar has made it clear that he is not in the running for the post, but has refused to endorse Parsekar.

Even when Parsekar was first chosen to succeed Parrikar when the latter became defence minister, his first choice was former speaker Rajendra Arlekar. Parrikar was over ruled by the then general secretary of BJP Goa, Satish Dhond. Parrikar had his revenge and got Dhond transferred. The main objection to Parsekar is that he has no connect with the Catholic minority community.

The other person very keen on becoming chief minister if the BJP comes to power is deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza. When it was decided that Parrikar would move to the centre as defence minister, D’Souza was in London. Even before he rushed back to Goa, he had made it clear that he expected to be promoted to the chief minister’s post. He claimed the support of 11 MLAs. There is of course no chance of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which controls the BJP, permitting a Catholic – even though he calls himself a Hindu Catholic – to become chief minister of a BJP-ruled state.

D’Souza has now reconciled to being bypassed for the post. He has publicly announced that he would be happy to be appointed governor as a consolation prize.

POPULAR WILFRED

AND a few stray thoughts on the biggest general body meeting of politicians cutting across party lines in Goa. The good thing in Goa is that however bitter the rivalry, at weddings and funerals, all politicians come together. We saw this at former chief minister Sashikala Kakodkar’s funeral where leaders of all parties said their last goodbyes. But that was a sad occasion in contrast to the very happy one which saw the entire political class coming together at the wedding of Dr Wilfred Mesquita’s son.

The mass attendance of all politicians was also because Dr Mesquita has always maintained good relationships even with opposition leaders whether his party was in power or not. An unlike the Catholics who joined BJP at the request of Parrikar like rats leaving a sinking ship, Dr Mesquita was always with the majority community.

He was a founder member of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and later, like many MGP workers, moved to the BJP. He is popular because he is a genuinely nice person who always tries to help, irrespective of caste, community or political affiliation. I have personally known him for helping everybody and being everyone’s friend.

It was therefore not a surprise that all the political heavy weights were at the wedding. The Congress was represented by former chief minister Digambar Kamat, and Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief Luizinho Faleiro. Former power minister Aleixo Sequiera who has not decided whether he will move to Goa Forward was there, talking to Fatorda MLA Vijay Sardessai.

Parrikar arrived at 7:30pm sharp, wished the bridal couple and went off the fulfil his obligations to his sisters who he had not greeted for bhaubeej, as he was in Uri celebrating Diwali with the jawans. Parsekar came when the toast was being raised and waited to wish the couple. The BJP was represented by deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza and most cabinet ministers. The only missing person was Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho despite his decision to join the BJP.

INTER-MARRIED

I AM becoming increasingly convinced that all Goan Catholics are married to each other. This was because all the prominent Catholic Saraswat families were present at the reception and I learnt that most were related to either the bride or the groom.

It was a marriage of two important families. If Dr Wilfred Mesquita is very well connected not only politically but also through the marriage of his daughter to the Colaco family of Margao, his wife is equally well connected as she is related to the Ribeiros of Divar who include top cop Julio Ribeiro and Regional Plan 2021 vice chairman Edger Ribeiro.

The bride is the grand-daughter of one of the most popular doctors of Ribandar, Dr Inacio Sa. I remember Dr Inacio as a jolly good person who could cure you with his smile. There was a huge crowd of Sa’s relatives from Panjim and North Goa, and classmates of both Dr Mesquita and his wife from the KEM Medical college in Bombay.

While Dr Mesquita is a gynaecologist, his wife is a veteran ophthalmologist. Between the two families, there are more than a dozen doctors. So the medical community was very well represented. I was happy to meet many old friends who might have thought I was dead because I was not on Facebook or Twitter. My only complaint is that as usual there was little for the vegetarians to eat while animal eaters and fish lovers had a ball.

AVERSION TO CONGRESS

AND a few stray thoughts on the Congress having difficulty finding candidates for the 2017 assembly elections. While it is waiting and wanting and willing to give tickets, nobody seems to want them. Even present Congress MLAs are treating the offer of tickets as if they were devalued `1000 and `500 notes.

The perception is that the Congress ticket is useless. Part of the problem is that the Congress is headless. Sonia Gandhi is not well and does not want to continue as party president. Rahul Gandhi has not decided whether he wants to succeed his mother and if so when. Priyanka Gandhi is interested but does not want to take over at the expense of her brother.

While the entire opposition is trying to corner the BJP over the currency crises, the first family comprising Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka are holidaying in Goa. They apparently visited the Fatorpa Shanta Durga temple and Victor Hugo’s Goa Chitra museum in Benaulim.

Pandurang Madkaikar who has contested and won twice on a Congress ticket wants a BJP ticket this time. Mauvin Godinho, one of the nine MLAs elected on a Congress ticket in 2007, has already joined the BJP. Babush Monseratte who has been expelled by the Congress is not interested in returning to the party. He is talking of setting up his own party.

Churchill Alemao has joined the Nationalist Congress Party. His brother Joaquim, a Congress MLA, wants to contest as an independent. Even Vishwajeet Rane, who along with his father Pratap Singh Rane controls the Sattari Taluka, is not interested in the Congress ticket. The problem is that nobody thinks they can win on a Congress ticket. And unlike the previous election, the Congress has no money to give the candidates. All the `1000 and `500 notes are now useless and will have to be thrown into the Mandovi River.

And a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. Even six days after the financial strike, there is no sign of the much-in-demand new `500 and `1000 notes. If you go to the bank and withdraw money, they are only willing to give you `2000 notes, which are useless as even petrol pumps are unwilling to accept them as they do not have change to return. Private hospitals are refusing to accept old `500 and `1000 notes leading even to the death of a child who was refused treatment.

STRIKING ATM

THE good news is that a lot of money has been deposited in the banks. Many new bank accounts have been opened. The Jan Dhan Yojana bank accounts which were empty are now full as those with black money are using them to convert black money into white. The ATMs are not going to start as they need to be recalibrated to handle the `2000 notes and the new `500 notes when they become available.

In the meanwhile, trade and tourism have been very badly affected as no one has `100 notes. It is ironic that the note that nobody wanted has now become the most wanted in the country.

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