LAST CHANCE FOR PANJIM: It’s time Ponjikars come together and cast aside their narrow-minded religion and caste-based preferences. All they have to do is ask themselves this: Is the Panjim of 2017 better than the Panjim of 1994? Forget better! Has Parrikar managed to, at the very least, maintain the status quo? The answer is a resounding no!
Girish Chodankar in his humility believes that while he may not be as high profile a candidate as Manohar Parrikar, the angry people of Panaji are capable of helping him to win the elections
By Rajan Narayan
IN the bye-election to the Panjim and Valpoi Assembly Constituency seats on August 23, voters will not be casting their franchise vote for Goddess Mahalaxmi whom Manohar Parrikar visited before filing his nomination from Panjim. They will not be voting for the parish priest of Panjim, or Jesus Christ, whose blessings were showered on Parrikar by the parish priest of the Holy Immaculate Church of Our Lady in Panjim. As senior journalist Devika Sequeira has pointed out, this was a personal act by the parish priest of the Panjim Church which did not necessarily have the approval or clearance of the Bishop. On the contrary the Church as an institution has been strongly opposing the Sangh Parivar.
During the annual get-together in the last week of December, Archbishop Filipe Neri severely castigated the Sangh Parivar for delaying a decision on the freedom of choice on the issue of medium of instruction. The Bishop also express concern over the atmosphere of intolerance in the country. He drew pointed attention to the harassment of those who chose to eat beef which was interference with the fundamental right of the citizen and particularly the minority community. When the police claimed to have caught Francis Pereira for the desecrations of crosses and burial grounds, the National Church Panel expressed serious doubts and suggested that the real culprits were allowed to escape. Just last week the church had a joint interfaith meeting along with the Muslim community at Azad Maidan to protest against the intolerant attitude of the Sangh Parivar.
When you cast your vote on August 23 in Panjim or Valpoi, you will not be voting for a Hindu or a Catholic. You will not be voting for a Brahmin like Parrikar or a Chardo like Vishwajit or member of the Bhandari Samaj like Girish Chodankar. The only Gods in an election are the Gods of democracy. The Gods of the Constitution of India. The Constitution which promises freedom of speech. Which promises freedom of thought and religion. Which promises the freedom to eat whatever food you want to eat, irrespective of the community you belong to. Which promises you the right of movement to any place in the country, including the right to work and settle in the state or city of your choice. The constitution ensures that you do not need a passport of visa to live and work in any part of the country. If you are an IT engineer you will not need to earn $1 million to get a visa to move to another state. This is because India — every part of India — confers the same rights on its citizens. Irrespective of whether you are from the holy Banaras, or from Yogi Aditiyanath’s Ayodhya, or Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, or our own amche bhangrache Goem.
There are no bhailes and bhitorles in any election of the country including the bye-election being held on August 23. Any citizen of India who has lived in Goa continuously for at least six months, is entitled to enrol himself or herself as a voter, provided he or she has passed the age of 18. The only document you require is proof of residence. Even an electricity bill or a bank account where your current address is shown is enough to enrol as a voter. There is one condition which is ignored by the officials who are authorised to register you as a voter. You cannot vote in two states. You cannot even vote into two different cities or villages in your own states. Every Indian citizen is entitled to only one vote. You are legally required to delete your name from Karnataka, UP, the North East, or from wherever you migrated to Goa, before enrolling as a voter. But politicians eager to built a vote bank, force officials to enrol migrant labour and those who live in slums as voters, even though they may not produce proof that their name has been deleted from the electoral roll in their home state.
In the coming election the Sangh Parivar, represented by Manohar Parrikar, who is contesting for the sixth time for Panjim, and Vishwajit Rane, who is contesting for the first time on the BJP ticket, will try to bribe you with money. They will try to bribe you with household goods like fridges and washing machines. They will try to bribe you with the offer of two wheelers. This, in fact, was the standard technique used by Babush Monserrate. Babush knew that young people will do anything for a fancy bike. But smart Babush used to make only the down payment and pay the first instalment. He would pay the remaining instalment only if was proved that the person who received the bribe from him and his family voted for Babush or his candidate.
Both Parrikar and Vishwajit are part of the government. They will promise you water supply 24×7 which, at least in the case of Panjim, Parrikar has not delivered for the last 20 years. They will promise you 24×7 uninterrupted power which has not been delivered. Parrikar will promise you a state-of-the-art waste treatment plant even though he has not been able to even find a garbage dump for the last 20 years. Both Vishwajit and Parrikar will promise you government jobs which they cannot deliver as it is house-full. Goa already has 60,000 plus government employees which means one government employee for every two Goans. They will promise you jobs in the private sector through the Investment Promotion Board (IPB) but it won’t happen because no industry wants to come to Goa due to the lack of infrastructure.
The people of Goa have become very suspicious and rightly think that only polluting industries, or industries which produce beer, alcohol and drugs want to come to Goa. Even if industries come to Goa there is no guarantee that Goans will get jobs. This is because Goa has a poor educational system which does not equip students with any practical skills for jobs. The toppers every year fly out of Goa for education and when they graduate they have to find jobs in Pune and Bangalore. We are not even able to run a small weekly in Goa because of the constant breakdowns in broadband services. Which is why no BPOs, or call centres, as they are called, want to come to Goa as they need 24×7 high speed connectivity.
As Rajan Parrikar has pointed out, Manohar Parrikar has lost all credibility. He is the U-turn Olympic champion of Goa. He deserves the Guinness book of records award or at least a Limca book of rewards award for the largest number of U-turns. Parrikar has become top in promises but zero in delivery.
Vishwajit Rane, unlike his father, is only interested in making money. During his last tenure he outsourced the pathology department and even the cleaning of the Goa Medical College (GMC), although it has a large army of so called attendants whose job it is to clean the ward. He has been barely Minister for Health for six months and has outsourced the laundry. I would not be surprised if he outsources the GMC itself. His record is dramatised by what he did to the district hospital in Mapusa. The most expensive equipment was bought, against which Vishwajit got commissions. But no staff was employed for operating the MRI and the CT scan and the Ultrasound machine. Indeed it took four years for the hospital to be inaugurated after the equipment was bought. This led to the rusting of the equipment for want of maintenance. And yet Parrikar has welcomed Vishwajit with open arms and has given him the Ministry of Health!
Clearly Manohar Parrikar has not been able to come to the defence of the people of India and the people of Goa. He has been a failure as the Raksha Mantri and an even bigger failure as the mukhyamantri. Even his reputation for being a clean politician has been tarnished by his ‘setting’ with Babush and all the other corrupt politicians, including the new grandfather of corruption, Vijai Sardesai. Parrikar may or may not be personally corrupt, but he has shown infinite tolerance for corruption by his cabinet colleagues. He has even been accused of extending favours to his close relatives.
It may be recalled that in the black paper submitted by the then leader of the Opposition, Luizinho Faleiro, Parrikar was accused of granting a generous one-time settlement to his brother-in-law Rayu Sancoalkar. He is also alleged to have forced the IPB to sanction a mega eco-tourism project for his younger son, Abhijat Parrikar, who is the son-in-law of the president of the builders association of Goa.
Over the last 20 years Parrikar has turned from a humble, people-friendly MLA to an arrogant hum sab jante hai dictator. I have been personal witness to the transformation of ‘Parritler’. When he first entered politics, Parrikar used to visit the offices of newspapers, including the Herald, of which I was editor. He used to project himself as an honest, hardworking, and humble servant of the people. Most of us welcomed him because he was a welcome change from the professional politicians who were seen as crooks and con men. When he became the chief minister, he invited me and my better three-quarters for a private lunch at the International Centre, where the only other person present was his younger son who was not even ten years old at the time. Interestingly, both times when he invited us for dinner to discuss what would be done for Goa he did not pay the bill.
I have seen the transformation of Parrikar from democrat to a dictator soon after he grabbed power by toppling the Sardinha
ministry. Then, as now, the sewage pipelines on 18th June road got mixed up with the water supply, resulting in a dengue epidemic in the capital city Panjim. Parrikar ordered all the restaurants to be closed, including popular restaurants like Bhosle. He also ordered all the gados in Miramar beach selling pani puris to shut down. Even while all eating establishments in Panjim were closed for inspection, Parrikar himself was caught eating ros omelette in a dirty gado near Alankar Cinema in Mapusa. When Tara wrote about it in the Herald he called me up early in the morning and denied that he ever goes to the gado. When I told him that we have photographs he claimed that he only went there to drink coconut water. It was then that I discovered that he was a congenital liar. By the time I went to the office I discovered that he had asked the Managing Director of Herald, Raul Fernandes, not to allow Tara to write for the paper.
The height of his tanashahi (autocracy) was when the then GPCC President accused him of favouring his brother-in-law with the onetime settlement in EDC. His lawyer, Narendra Sawaikar, who is now the North Goa Member of Parliament, issued a legal notice to editors of all newspapers not to carry any news items against his relatives. Parrikar went to the extent of threatening the press that if they carried any reports of the leaders of the Opposition he would drag them to jail.
Nothing has changed both with regard to his habit of lying and his dictatorial ways. Parrikar is now claiming that the estimate of Shah Commission of a loss of `35,000 crore due to corruption by mining companies is the wrong estimate. Parrikar is now claiming that he was not aware of the permission given to the Adanis to expand the coal handling capacity in MPT. Parrikar is now claiming that he was not aware of the extent of corruption in the tourism and the PWD department under Parulekar and Dhavalikar. Parrikar who is the champion of U-turns is now claiming that he will do in 365 days what he has not done in the 7,300 days, or the 20 years, he has been MLA of Panjim.
It is time Panjim rejected the liar and master of U-turns. It is time Panjim rejected the dictator who believes he is the most clever. It is time Panjim joins Rajan Parrikar in asking the corrupt Parrikar to retire from politics and spend his time playing with his grand children. It is time Panjim votes for a new face that will talk less and do more. Who will show concern for Panjim instead of making tall promises. Who will serve the people of Goa and not cheat the people of Panjim. Who will respect the democratic will of the people of Panjim. It is time people vote for democracy instead of dictatorship.