PAKLOPONN V/S GOENKARPONN

PAKLOPONN: Not just Goans Catholics but even Goan Hindus fawned over Portuguese president Antonio Costa, who is of Goan origin, in competitive pakloponn

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the daaru shop owners desperately hoped the Supreme Court would at least relax, if not review, the order barring daaru shops within 500 metres of the national highways. For a Saturday following the week when Babush Monserrate seem to have decided to make up with Manohar Parrikar once again, as discretion is the better part of valour. For a Saturday following the week when trouble was brewing within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the proposed induction of Vishwajit Rane into the cabinet. For a Saturday following the week when we wondered why nobody is talking ‘paklopann’.

LAST PRAYERS

AND a few stray thoughts about the daaru shop owners desperately hoping that Shantadurga or the lady of Valankani will come to their rescue. The deadline for the enforcement of the ban on liquor outlets within 500 metres of national and state highways ends on March 31, 2017. From April 1, 2017, all such liquor outlets will have to close down, in an attempt to reduce the horrific number of accidents on the highways. The Supreme Court in its order dated December 15, 2016, directed “that all states and union territories should stop granting licenses for the sale of liquor along national and state highways. The prohibition shall extend to, and include, stretches of such highways which fall within the limits of a municipality city, town or local authority. No shop for the sale of daaru should be visible from a national or state highway or directly accessible to it.”

The chief minister, Manohar Parrikar ,who is also the finance minister in charge of the excise department which issues licenses for daaru outlets, has chosen to interpret the Supreme Court order as applicable only to liquor shops and not to bars and restaurants. This is based on the oral opinion expressed by the Advocate General of Goa. Unlike in Maharashtra, where the same logic has been adopted, Parrikar has insisted that even wholesale suppliers of daaru are exempt from the Supreme Court order. This is irresponsible as the apex court order is more concerned with the location of the daaru unit. If a wholesale liquor distributor has an office on the highway he will also have to close down on March 31.

As of now it is estimated that 3,127 liquor outlets will be affected by the Supreme Court verdict, even with Parrikar’s liberal interpretation. If the Supreme Court insists that it applies to all liquor outlets, including bars and restaurants, and wholesalers, over 15,000 daaru outlets could be affected.  The problem arises because the judgement demands that daaru ‘vends’ should be shut down without defining a ‘vend’. The literal English translation of a ‘vend’ is a liquor shop, based on which the Advocate General of the country, Mukul Rohatgi, has advised the state government that bars and restaurants will not be affected by the Supreme Court order. There is expected to be a clarification by Friday, March 31, as the Supreme Court has decided to  review petitions filed by many states.

Disposing Stocks

IN THE meanwhile, owners of daaru shops within 500 metres of the national and state highways are worried about the large stocks of daaru in their shops. The stock cannot be returned, as wholesalers and manufactures are not willing to take it back, and the shop owners do not want to give it away free. Unfortunately for them there is no election scheduled to enable them to sell their entire stock to candidates or political parties. Their only option is to drink all the daaru they have in their shops, which will destroy their livers.

Irrespective of the final Supreme Court verdict many daaru outlets in Goa will have to shut down as their licenses cannot be renewed for the new financial year because of the Supreme Court verdict.

The unfortunate part is that unlike the state of Punjab, where the new chief minister, Captain Amarindar Singh has welcomed the Supreme Court order and decided to eliminate liquor over a period of time, Parrikar is not concerned about the serious problem of alcoholism in Goa. It is not true that only tourists get drunk and misbehave on beaches and at other public places. The majority of drunken driving cases involve young Goans, many of whom meet their maker earlier than scheduled because besides driving drunk, they also refuse to wear helmets. So Goan youth get to jannat or heaven much faster than youth from other parts of the country. Migrant labour and tribals are also victims of the low priced and readily available daaru in Goa. It is said that if you throw a stone in Goa, it will land either on a chapel or cross, or on a daaru shop. Unlike even pharmacies, which observe the Portuguese tradition of siesta, liquor shops are open 24×7. Parrikar should be more concerned about persuading Goans to reduce or give up daaru, instead of trying to help them evade the Supreme Court directive.

And a few stray thoughts on the certainty that Babush Monserrate will soon extend support, if not join, the BJP.

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM

TAKING on Sidharth Kuncalienker who was standing in as a substitute for Parrikar was one thing, but challenging Parrikar himself is a far more dangerous idea. Babush has obviously come to the conclusion that if he could not defeat Kuncalienker he has no chances of defeating Parrikar, particularly after he has made the great sacrifice of giving up the defence ministry to become chief minister of Goa. Both the Brahmins who voted for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate Valmiki Naik, who is also a Saraswat, and the Catholics will probably prefer Parrikar to Babush.

For some time there were rumours that Parrikar would contest from his home town Mapusa instead of Panjim. Even during his previous terms as chief minister, Parrikar used to go back home to Mapusa instead of staying in the chief minister’s official residence in Panjim. Until last year, when Parrikar bought a bungalow at Nagali hills in Dona Paula, he did not have a house in Panjim which he has represented six times in the assembly. The address given in his nomination is that of a friend of his.

Parrikar planned to shift to Mapusa as he thought that Babush would again contest from Panjim against him in the bye-election. Though Parrikar is now the chief minister of Goa, he is not a member of the Legislative Assembly of Goa. In fact he has not even resigned his membership of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. The rules demand that Parrikar should be elected to the legislative assembly within six months of his appointment as chief minister. It is clear that now Parrikar has made a deal with Babush and has decided to ask his chamcha Sidharth to resign so he can contest from Panjim and get elected to the Assembly. This suits Parrikar, as former deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza was not very happy about stepping down and resigning from the assembly to enable Parrikar to contest from Mapusa. Parrikar is probably confident that the 2,000 votes which went to Valmiki and caused the defeat of Babush would come to him as they are Brahmin votes.

TONY FERNANDES

ANTONIO (Tony) Caetano Fernandes  suddenly went missing sparking rumours spread by Aires Rodrigues that he was quitting the Santa Cruz seat in favour of Babush. It was later discovered that Tony had gone to Chennai, perhaps to take the advice of Our Lady of Valankani who is a favourite with Goan Catholics. On his return to Goa, Tony confirmed that he would give up his seat if the boss wants it. Tony, who has always been Babush’s man, was given the Congress ticket at the insistence of Babush, who entered into an understanding with the Congress before the elections, that he would support the party if tickets were given to Tony in Santa Cruz and Fransisco Silveira in St Andre besides of course his wife, Jennifer, in Taleigao.  Babush himself was a Congress MLA in the last assembly but was suspended from the party for putting up a panel against the official Congress panel in the Panjim Municipal election. Unfortunately for Babush all his plans for capturing the Congress party and getting back the Town and Country Planning (TCP) Department were dashed when he lost the elections in Panjim even though his candidates won on the Congress ticket. Indeed three of the seventeen elected Congress MLAs are actually controlled by Babush.

Babush, like Dhavalikar, likes to be on the winning team. He does not see any hope of the Congress being able to form the Government in Goa even in the next elections, let alone being able to topple the Parrikar government anytime soon. Parrikar, at his end, is not happy that he was forced to take the support of Goa Forward (GF) and Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte. Fights have already started within the cabinet as Goenkarponn and Hindutva cannot go together. So Parrikar’s plan is to get not only Babush but his two chamchas and wife Jennifer, to resign their seats as Congress MLAs and re-contest as BJP MLAs. Babush has done it before, when he quit his seat as a United Goans Democratic Party (UGDP) MLA and got Isidore Fernandes and Pandurang Madkaikar also to resign and re-contest on the BJP ticket to save the Parrikar government from being toppled. Parrikar’s agenda seems to be to replace the GF MLAs with the Babush gang of four MLAs. So Tony will say “Yes Boss” and will quit his Santa Cruz seat so that the defeated Babush can return to the assembly. Babush does not mind as long as he gets the TCP which has been allotted to GF MLA Vijai Sardesai as his reward for helping the BJP come to power.

Crumbs for the BJP

AND a few stray thoughts on the revolt within the BJP MLAs over the decision by Parrikar to induct Vishwajit Rane as a cabinet Minister. Vishwajit has already resigned from the Assembly and has given up even the primary membership of the Congress party. Parrikar is interested in Vishwajit because like Babush he has the ability to get his candidates elected not only in the Sattari Taluka, but even in the Bicholim Taluka. Not just Vishwajit and his father Pratap Singh, but all other candidates supported by him have also won the elections. Vishwajit, unlike his father, has no patience and is convinced that the Congress is finished as a party. Parrikar on his part thinks that he would be a more reliable partner than either the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) or the GF. In any case Pratap Singh Rane has always been close to the BJP and Parrikar. Even when the BJP was in power he was allowed to continue as Speaker and Chairman of Kala Academy. Similarly his wife Vijayadevi was permitted to remain Chairperson of Bal Bhavan and even extended grants to run a English medium primary school which was against the rule.

In the first set of ministers sworn in, only one of the thirteen BJP MLAs, Francis D’Souza, was given a cabinet berth. Even he was not happy as he is now number four in the cabinet, with only the Urban Development portfolio. To add insult to injury, D’Souza was asked to resign so that Parrikar could contest from Mapusa. An angry D’Souza, who has ambitions of becoming Vice President of India, refused. Both Michael Lobo, who helped persuade Sardesai to join the BJP, and Nilesh Cabral, the former Chairman of Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC), are desperate to become the tourism minister. It is clear that Lobo is not getting the tourism ministry as he has been forced to accept the position of deputy speaker. There is not much chance for Cabral either, as Parrikar is under pressure to take Mauvin Godinho, who defected from the Congress, into the cabinet.

The irony will be that when the last two vacant berths are announced they are likely to go to Vishwajit and to Godinho. Which means the BJP alies and defectors will take almost the entire black forest cake, leaving crumbs for the BJP MLAs. The most angry are the Catholics who won seven of the thirteen seats that the BJP got. As it is the Catholics took a risk in contesting on the BJP ticket despite the church turning against the BJP. If they cannot deliver jobs and development to their voters, they will not get elected next time. Which is why Parrikar has gone to Delhi to consult the God of Wisdom, Amit Shah. Parrikar may have won the battle but he may still lose the war provided the Congress party finally wakes up and manages to persuade GF and the MGP to withdraw support to Parrikar. Welcome to Goa’s game of musical chairs!

Pakloponn

AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. I do not know whether it forms part of Goenkarponn but pakloponn is much more common in Goa. Unlike Goenkarponn there is no confusion about pakloponn. The expression paklo refers to all Goans, Hindu and Catholic, who believe rightly or wrongly that Goa was better off under the Portuguese rule. The paklos believe that India conquered Goa and did not liberate it. Even legally Goa’s liberation is described as conquest, though the defence forces did not put up much resistance and quickly surrendered, disobeying the order of the dictator Salazar to destroy Goa. Vasco Silva,  the last Governor of Goa, was punished when he returned to Portugal.

Who is a paklo? A paklo is anyone who admires everything Portuguese; who insists even now on speaking Portuguese at home; a Goan who considers Konkani the language of the servants; one who admires everything Portuguese – right from their wine, their furniture and the Portuguese legacy not only of the Uniform Civil Code but also the bebinca. It is not widely known that it was the Portuguese who introduced Goa to kaju feni as they brought the cashew plant to these shores. Even the mirchi which the Goans love so much was introduced by the Portuguese.

The paklos are hyperactive whenever a senior Portuguese government official comes to Goa. When former Portuguese president, Mario Soares, came to Goa there were hundreds of paklos coming to my office at the Herald and even to my home asking for invitations for the President’s dinner. It was no different this time when Antonio Costa visited Goa. The excitement was greater because Antonio Costa is of Goan origin and his family still stays in Margao. When a reception was held for him all the Goan industrialists and other paklos came carrying medals given to them by the Portuguese. It was not only men who wanted his attention. Even the women of the Mhami Kamat house, which was the biggest trading partner of the Portuguese, pushed each other to get selfies with him. Maybe Sardesai will have better luck if he changes his objectives and promises to work for pakloponn instead of Goenkarponn.

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