ONLY CHOICE: For Ponjikars, tired of watching Panjim go down the drain, Girish is a beacon of hope. With secular forces determined to defeat Parrikar, we can hope that real achhe din lie ahead for Panjim city
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when we learnt the reason why Babush Monserrate refused the Congress ticket for the Panjim bye-elections. For a Saturday following the week when Girish Chodankar stepped up as the right candidate to take on Manohar Parrikar in the state capital. For a Saturday following the week when Parrikar was personally monitoring the progress of Arihant in removing the Lucky Seven from Miramar beach. For a Saturday following the week when we were still waiting for our GST registration.
TOO CHEAP FOR BABUSH
AND a few stray thoughts on why Babush Monserrate finally refused the Congress invitation to contest the Panjim bye-election against Parrikar. Babush is primarily a businessman and not a politician. When the Congress invited him to contest the Panjim bye-election he naturally expected the party to finance the election campaign. Unlike the Congress, which is very stingy as an organisation, Babush believes in the supremacy of money power in elections. Babush fights election on the principle of paisa pehko, tamasha dekho. So much so he demanded `10 crore from the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) to contest the bye-election. The Congress was willing to offer only `1 crore which Babush dismissed as chicken-feed. The Congress leaders tried to persuade Babush to contribute towards the cost of fighting the elections since he has lots of money of his own and will also benefit if Parrikar is defeated. Babush rejected the suggestion, on the grounds that if he wanted to fight the election as an independent he would spend his own money, but if the party wanted him to contest it had to pay up. The party could not eat its cake and have it too.
THE same reason also came in the way of Ashok Naik, the former Mayor of Panjim, contesting the election. Ashok Naik was a much better than Babush, highly respected candidate, who had been employed with India’s largest infra-structure and technology company, Larsen & Toubro. After his retirement he came back to Goa.
Ashok has always been a strong supporter of the BJP. He was the person who proposed the name of Manohar Parrikar for the Panjim assembly seat when Parrikar first contested in the 1997 election. When the CCP was born, Parrikar not only persuaded Ashok Naik to contest the civic election, but appointed him the first Mayor of CCP. Ashok Naik was the best mayor Panjim has had, equally respected by the ruling party and the opposition in the CCP.
As an engineer Ashok bab knows what a mess Parrikar is creating. He was against the dumping of garbage from Mapusa at Curca knowing that it did not have the capacity. He was also against making Goa the permanent venue for IFFI without creating proper infra-structure. He is furious about the manner in which money was wasted on the Dona Paula-Miramar road. Ashok believes that Parrikar has changed after joining politics. That he is only concerned with keeping his kodel safe and does not believe in principles. Ashok was willing to contest even on the Congress ticket, but many of his supporters wanted him to fight as an Independent with Congress support. This was not acceptable to the Congress party. The budget issue also convinced Ashok that the Congress was not serious.
SENIOR advocate Surendra Desai was quite keen on contesting the bye-election. He has been quite upset with the BJP for overlooking his claims for the post of advocate general, for which he is better qualified than most other lawyers. The lawyer appointed by the Congress when it was in power, Subodh Kanthak is not very popular with the legal community. When the AG Atmaram Nadkarni shifted to Delhi as additional solicitor General of the country he got his junior Dattaprasad Lavande appointed as AG. Besides being a junior lawyer, Lavande is not considered very competent which is why the state called Nadkarni to fight the Madhai dispute with Karnataka. It is not clear why Surendra Desai withdrew. It is possible that he was either threatened or promised a post as a judge.
OTHER contenders also refused the Congress invitation to contest against Parrikar. This included Yatish Naik, a young activist advocate, and even Ramakant Kalap, the former Union Minister for Law at the Centre. They were upset over being offered the ticket only after the others refused. The only Congress candidates interested in getting a ticket were Jitendra Deshprabhu from Pernem and our own Surendra Furtado, who has lost to Parrikar at least three times now. The Congress had no choice but to offer the seat to Girish Chodankar who is a secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). Shantaram Naik, the new GPCC chief, tried to sabotage the ticket going to Girish with the excuse that it should go to a North-Goa leader. Which is absurd because when Shantaram was given the Lok Sabha ticket for the North Goa parliament seat, he was a resident of Margao. Fortunately for Goa and Panjim, Shantaram was overruled by Rahul Gandhi.
THE RIGHT CHOICE
AND a few stray thoughts on why Girish Chodankar is the best choice to not just give Parrikar a good fight but even win the Panjim seat for the Congress. Though Girish may be a resident of Fatorda he is known to party workers and the public in all parts of Goa because he was the president of the Youth Congress. In recent years he has been playing a very major role in building up the Youth Congress all over the country. I recall meeting the Karnataka Youth Congress chief who called Girish his guru.
Incidentally Karnataka is among the few states in which there is still a Congress government. Girish has been working personally with Rahul Gandhi as secretary of the AICC in New Delhi for the last few years.
Always the king maker, never the king, has been the story of Girish so far. He played a major role in Digambar Kamat joining the Congress in 2002 and has been responsible for the campaigns of several leaders of South Goa.
Though Girish has worked tirelessly for Congress candidates all over Goa, he has never been considered for a ticket to contest the election from his home constituency Fatorda which is now Vijai Sardesai’s constituency. Part of the problem has been that many senior veteran leaders of the Congress live in Fatorda. In his own right Girish, who by profession teaches in the Higher Secondary Division of the Guardian Angel School in Curchorem, has been the most trusted office bearer.
In every election for the last 20 years Girish has handled the finances on behalf of the Congress High Command and has never been accused of dishonesty. It is rare that a Congressman has earned the trust of the senior-most leaders like Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Girish has friends in all parties because he has always assisted anyone who approached him for help without discriminating between Congress and opposition supporters.
Girish is the best candidate to take on Parrikar because there is no risk that Parrikar will be able to bully or bribe him into withdrawing. For Parrikar it is a matter of great prestige that he should win the election by a huge majority. Parrikar would ideally like to get elected unopposed which is why the BJP goons are frightening away all the candidates that Congress has approached for contesting the Panjim seat. Even Parrikar has been boasting about how the Congress cannot find a candidate to stand against him. He has found his match in Girish Chodankar. Because Girish will not back out and will give him a tough fight. And the Congress party will not spare any expense as Girish is a personal favourite of Rahul Gandhi. We would not be surprised if at least Rahul Gandhi, if not Sonia herself, comes to Goa to campaign for him.
POPULAR ACROSS LINES
GIRISH may not be a Brahmin but he is close enough to the Brahmin community to get the votes of those who have been victims of Parrikar. In addition he will get the votes of the other backward classes who have been ignored by all parties and is also very popular with the Catholic community. Girish is a master of campaigning as he is the campaign manager for many senior Congress leaders and knows the arithmetic of vote bank politics better than any other Congress leader or even Manohar Parrikar. He should only watch out against the government using the official machinery like the police to interfere with the campaign.
It is going to be a bitter fight and Girish has to be prepared to counter all the dirty tricks that Parrikar might try in order to get a huge majority. Girish may or may not win, but nobody can accuse him of doing a setting with Parrikar like Babush and the rest. We only hope that Ashok Naik, Valmiki Faleiro and other candidates, if any, will back Girish so that there is a combined front against Parrikar.
FIGHTING elections is like gambling or smoking. It is very addictive. So we are not surprised that the hero of Cortalim, Kenneth Silveira, who took on Mauvin Godinho, decided to take on Manohar Parrikar. Silveira was determined that Parrikar should not get elected unopposed. Parrikar must not get away with a belief that everyone is frightened of him. This was of course before the Congress announced Girish Chodankar as their candidate. Our belief is that Silveira will still contest the election. In his appeal to voters of Panjim he has rightly accused Parrikar of having failed to deliver on his promises and has asked voters just to give him a hundred votes as a token of protest. His hope is that the hundred could multiple to 10,000.
Any votes that Silveira takes away from Parrikar should benefit Girish. As it happened in Margao when the great Babu Naik was defeated by Uday Bhembre there is every chance that Girish will turn out to be a giant killer.
AND a few stray thoughts on Manohar Parrikar personally monitoring the removal of the ‘Un’Lucky Seven from Miramar beach, where it lies grounded like a huge dead whale. The casino boat owned by the notorious Haryana politicians Gopal Goyal Kanda had no engine. The ship had no generator. It was a junk vessel which has not even been registered with the Ministry of Shipping or the Captain of Ports in Goa. Parrikar has admitted publicly in the assembly that no permission had been granted to the boat to moor in the Mandovi river and he stated that he was only following the order of the court. Which is the biggest lie as Parrikar should have known the risk of crossing the Aguada sandbar in the Monsoon.
The truth is that the government of Manohar Parrikar renewed the long expired license of Lucky Seven. In its greed for revenue, Manohar Parrikar, going against his own promises, decided to allow a sixth casino ship to be moored in the Mandovi river. Admittedly the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court requested the government to permit the ship to enter the Mandovi as it was getting damaged in the sea in the jurisdiction of the MPT because of the waves and high saline content. The captain of ports had refused permission and the state government could have challenged the order of the high court pointing out the danger of the ship getting grounded. They did not do so and instead let the ship attempt the extremely risky passage from the MPT to the Mandovi. There was enough warning that the ship could not make it as it got grounded opposite the Raj Bhavan. The owners forced the tugs to pull it towards Mandovi River. The last straw was when the anchor of the ship got washed away by the heavy waves which caused it to drift to Miramar beach.
Arihant Ship Breakers Pvt Ltd which has been hired by Kanda, took more than 10 years to remove the River Princess from the Candolim beach. Fraudulently, they left the job incomplete — removing only the portion of the River Princess above the water — and claimed that the work was finished. Fortunately for Goa, the then NIO Director Syed Naqvi himself dived and discovered that the debris of the ship was still lying at the bottom of the sea. It took another two years to clear the remaining portion of the ship. Arihant is not a salvage company but a ship-breaking company. A company which breaks ships which have reached retirement age, and sells the various parts as junk or raddi. It is not qualified for a salvage operation. Parrikar did not ask the local salvage experts, Madgavkar Salvage Pvt Ltd, to help remove the ship even though they offered to do so, because he did not want to be exposed.
As long as Lucky Seven remains at Miramar none of the Catholics living around Miramar will vote for Parrikar.
GST REGISTRATION WOES
AND a last stray thought on the General Stinking Tax which the government calls the Goods and Services Tax. While it might be a good idea to have fewer taxes, the ground reality is that it is a nightmare to even get GST registration, let alone file returns. We applied late because we were misled into believing that the media was exempt from GST. This proved to be false as only the sale of papers was exempt from GST. Advertisements released in the print or television media were not exempt from the GST of 5 per cent. Earlier there was only a 2 per cent TDS on newspaper advertisements. Over `10 lakhs revenue that was due to us was blocked because those who had given us advertisements would not pay without our GST number.
The process of applying for GST is tortured. Every scanned document has to be reduced to a prescribed size for uploading. For instance the photograph of the director must be less than 100 kb. You have to have not only a computer with internet but also an expert image-editor to apply for GST. We would be happy to help those who do not have the facility at very reasonable charges.
While we can apply on your behalf, can get the GST network to generate a receipt saying that your documents have been uploaded successfully, and can even generate a receipt saying the GST application has been approved, one week after the approval of our GST registration we are still waiting for our GST number. So even if you want to register you cannot do so. It’s as if the computer network has also become corrupt and is waiting for a bribe to release the registration!