CABRALNAMA: According to the Curchorem MLA, Nilesh Cabral, who is the spokesman of the BJP, “Nazis were largely Catholics”. He should know better. Oppression and discrimination have no religion although religion may be used as an excuse by the oppressors to justify their actions. The comparison drawn with the Nazis was to highlight the discrimination of the BJP government
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar accused the Church of polarising voters along communal lines. For a Saturday following the week when there was speculation that the news of the award to Vishnu Wagh’s anti-Saraswat book of poems was leaked deliberately to rally Saraswat voters. For a Saturday following the week when it looks as though Lucky Seven was going in the way of the River Princess. For a Saturday following the week when an alert has been issued against the blue whale challenge which is claiming more and younger lives in the country.
AND a few stray thoughts on Manohar Parrikar accusing the Church of trying to polarise minority voters along communal lines. After his victory Parrikar made a pointed reference to the reports submitted by the Church committee on the vandalisation of the crosses and graves in the state.
On the eve of the polling day August 23, the Church committee had released its report which insisted that there was a larger conspiracy behind the desecration of the graves and churches. Parrikar alleged that the Church had tried to create a fear factor to influence voters against him.
Admittedly the Church did try to make amends for the act of the parish priest of Panjim who gave his blessing to Manohar Parrikar on the day he filed his nomination. The photograph of the Panjim parish priest blessing Manohar Parrikar was flashed prominently by at least two leading English dailies, giving the impression that the Church was backing Chief Minister Parrikar in his sixth attempt to return to the Legislative Assembly from Panjim. The impression persisted because the Bishop remained silent on whether the parish priest acted on his own or with the consent of his superiors.
The Church did try to indirectly convey the message that the parish priest of Panjim had acted on his own and his blessing did not mean that the Church as an organisation favoured Manohar Parrikar. A very strong editorial against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and Manohar Parrikar in particular, though he was not named, appeared in the Church’s official bulletin ‘Renovação’ (Renewal). The editorial referred to U turns which is a major allegation against Parrikar. The editorial even went to the extent of comparing the Modi regime to Hitler and Nazi Germany.
The editorial which was given wide publicity by a section of the press could not have affected Parrikar much as the Church journal is only read by the elite. Realising perhaps that the editorial in Renovação may not have conveyed the message, the panel of the Church set up to probe the desecration also submitted the report just before polling day. The report accused the NDA BJP government in the state of making a scapegoat of Francis Pereira to hide the larger conspiracy against the Catholic community. Parrikar’s response to the report which came after his victory on Monday was that the police had conclusively established the guilt of Francis. Parrikar also accused the committee and the Church of trying to divide voters. Parrikar insisted that the voters had rejected the Church attempt to turn the minority community against him.
GOING a step further Nilesh Cabral the spokesperson of the BJP, displaying his ignorance of history, insisted that Nazis were largely Catholics. Nilesh Cabral is clearly not aware that the Nazi ideology was based on race and not on religion. Hitler propagated the myth that Germans belong to the pure Aryan race unlike Jews, who were an inferior species. This was the logic behind the mass extermination of the Jews. Indeed the Portuguese also shared the racist bias of the Nazis and considered Goans an inferior race. Cabral does not understand the comparison drawn between Modi Hindutva and Hitler’s Nazis. Cabral made the statement in the context of the Church panel casting doubts about the arrest of Francis Pereira and the article written by F E Noronha in the Church bulletin.
HISTORICALLY Manohar Parrikar has always had the support of the Catholic minority community in every election that he fought right from 1994. On several occasions Parrikar himself admitted privately and sometimes even publically that his strongest supporters were the Catholics of Panjim. Even his fellow Saraswats have not been so loyal to Parrikar as the Catholics of the capital city. This is possibly because Parrikar has projected himself as a moderate who refused to follow Hindutva policies in Goa. This is dramatised by the continuing ban on Promod Mutalik the Ram Sene leader and the chief minister’s refusal to impose a ban on the consumption of beef unlike in other BJP states. As a leading Catholic told me for some reason the minority Catholic community in Panjim seems to love Parrikar. There are however signs that a section of them may have revolted going by the fact that the residents of St Mary’s colony and La Campala recorded more votes for Girish Chodankar than for Parrikar.
AND a few stray thoughts on Vishwajit Rane emerging as the man of the match in the just concluded bye-election. As against Parrikar’s margin of victory of just 4,000+ votes against Girish Chodankar, junior Rane or baba as he is popularly called, defeated Roy Naik by more than 10,000 votes. As against the 9,000+ votes secured by Parrikar, Vishwajit got more than 16,000. Moreover, unlike Parrikar who needed the help of Babush Monserrate, and even asked Vijai Sardesai and the Independents to publically endorse him, baba did it on his own.
The take away from the bye-elections is that the personal vote bank of the Ranes is much bigger than that of Manohar Parrikar. The victory is not that of the son as much as the father. It is Pratap Singh Rane who has maintained an iron hold over not just his constituency Poriem but over the Sattari and Bicholim talukas. Unlike other parts in Goa where the tenancy and Mundkar acts have been implemented, senior Rane during his tenure has Revenue Minister in the MGP government excluded Sattari from this ‘land to the tiller’ legislation initiated by Dayanand Bandodkar. The argument was that unlike land elsewhere in Goa, in Pernem and Sattari talukas the land was given as a mokasa (gift) by the Portuguese to the Ranes. The Ranes have complete control over the people of the taluka who do not have any rights under the Tenancy and Mundkar Act.
On the eve of the election senior Rane is reported to have called all the Muslim leaders and asked them to support his son saying that he was passing on his legacy to baba. There is a significant Muslim vote bank in the Valpoi constituency. It is clear that senior Rane played a major role in the victory of baba. Which is strange as senior Rane still claims to be a part of the Congress party. In fairness, senior Rane had made it clear to the Congress high command and low command that he would not canvas against his son in the election. The implication being that blood is thicker than politics. Vishwajit himself was surprised at the margin of victory and started crying like the babas and babies. Generally all sons are called baba or babush in Goa. After Vishwajit’s victory there are several Facebook posts by parents asking whether they should continue to call their son baba.
AND a few stray thoughts on the controversy over the decision of the Konkani Academy to give an award to the collections of poems of Vishnu Wagh which were released in 2013. The news of the Konkani academy having chosen the book named “Sudhir Sukta” was leaked by one of the three judges who had apparently strongly opposed the decision. The main objection was that the poems in the book attacked the Saraswat community and abused them. Not surprisingly, Uday Bhembre, the leading Konkani writer and activist, endorsed the call for withdrawing the award.
In retrospect we wonder whether the leak of the news that the Konkani academy was conferring an award to Vishnu Wagh’s Saraswat bashing book was a coincidence. There was a fear that Saraswats in Panjim who account for more than 5,000 votes had turned against Manohar Parrikar. It may be recalled that a good friend of the chief minister, Rajan Parrikar, had posted on Facebook an open letter of disgust and asked Parrikar to retire from politics and spend times with his grandchildren. The leak was possibly meant to warn Saraswats of the dangers of disunity.
The Saraswats, although they comprised less than 5 per cent of the population of Goa, have always dominated not only the literary and cultural life, but even the political and business world of Goa. Among the chief ministers who have completed a full term are two Saraswats namely Manohar Parrikar and Digambar Kamat. Saraswats are very clannish and have always come to the defence of each other even if one of them has been guilty of a wrongdoing. In the 35 years spent in Goa I have often come across the expression amche which is used by Saraswats to defend their less than honest brothers and sisters.
Unlike in other parts of the country, it is the Saraswats, both Hindu and Catholic, who have dominated business and industry in Goa. With the exception of the Chowgules and Sesa Goa, all the leading mining houses are owned by the Saraswats. There have even been suggestions that the Parthagal Mutt Swami may have brokered the alliance between Vijay Sardesai and Manohar Parrikar who were both Saraswats.
Coming back to Vishu Wagh’s book of poems, although I have not read it, Vivek Menezes has cited English translations of some of the poems in his article in a section of the press. Vivek who is a highly respected critic and writer has vehemently denied that the book is either anti-Saraswat or abusive.
But even if the book is anti-Saraswats or abusive from the point of view of the Saraswats, there is no reason to deny it the award. If any literary work is sought to be denied its due because it protests against the upper caste, some of the best Dalit literature would have been banned. Vivek has compared Vishnu Wagh’s poems to that of outstanding Dalit writers like Raja Dhale and Namdev Dashal. The publisher of the book, Hema Naik, the wife of Pundalik Naik and a Sahitiya Kala Academy winner, has strongly defended the book.
The allegation against the Saraswats is that they were the primary beneficiaries of Konkani in the Devanagari script being declared the official language of Goa. When the Konkani academy was founded it only gave awards to books written in Devanagari Konkani. So naturally most of the awards went to Saraswat writers irrespective of their merit. We are not claiming that the senior writers like Chandrakant Keny, Uday Bhembre and Damodar Mauzo and the other Saraswats were not deserving winners.
But the fact remains that it took more than a decade after Konkani became the official language for a non-Saraswat to be appointed chairman of the Konkani Academy despite the fact that Pundalik Naik was the convenor of the “Konkan Porjecho Awaz” (KPA) which led the battle for the recognition of the mai bhash as the raj bhash. We hope the award will cheer up Vishnu Wagh who is still recovering from his medical problem.
AND a few stray thoughts on the Lucky Seven going the way of the River Princess. It may be recalled that the so called River Princess owned by Anil Salgaocar was blown from its anchorage towards the Candolim beach during the monsoon on June 5, 2000.
Despite repeated requests the owner did not take the ship away from Candolim beach. On the contrary the ship began sinking deeper and deeper into the seabed and it took 15 years for all the debris of the ship to be finally removed from the Candolim beach. The worst affected were the Taj Group of Hotels.
The grounding of the River Princess caused an erosion of 30,000 sq mtrs of the public beach and 5,000 sq mtrs of private property, including the bungalow belonging to Vijay Mallya, which has been auctioned to recover his dues to the banks. Ironically, the company which was given the contract to salvage the ship was Arihant, the same company which has been hired by the owners of Lucky Seven. After Arihant claimed they had completely removed the ship, the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) found that large metal parts of the ship were still buried under the seabed. It took another three years to remove the iron parts and restore normalcy to the beach.
The owner of Lucky Seven, Gopal Kunda, is behaving just like Anil Salgaocar. He had promised to have the ship removed within a week. The Lucky Seven owners hired Arihant to move the ship away from the Miramar beach. Because of the huge waves during the monsoon the company was not able to do so. In the meanwhile, the ship which is already in a bad shape, has suffered severe damage. It is reported that not only water but also large quantity of sand entered the engine room of the ship. Unlucky Seven has been tilting due to the influx of water through the breaches in the hull.
The North Goa collector issued an order to Gopal Kunda on August 19 to submit an action plan to remove the ship. The company is also been asked to give a bank guarantee of `1 crore. There has been no response from the ship owner.
The only consolation is that the work of salvage has been entrusted to a niz Goenkar, Anand Madgavkar. Anand is clear that the ship should be repaired and towed away and not cut on the spot as was done in the case of the River Princess. Meanwhile, the steadily disintegrating ship has become a major tourist attraction.
Blue Whale Alert
AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. There is panic in the country over the increasing number of deaths due to the deadly Russian game Blue Whale. Unlike the relatively harmless Pokémon, Blue Whale instigates young people to commit suicide. Even those who do not commit suicide because of timely preventive action, often harm themselves.
According to an alert issued by the police department in several cases the controllers of the blue whale ask the player to perform 50 tasks. These include cutting themselves and taking risks like sitting on the edge of a tall building. If they do not perform the task and provide proof that they have done so, they are shamed by the controllers of the game. The game culminates in acts of suicide which is the last level of the game. A young woman, suspected to be a controller of the challenge, has been arrested. However, there may be others involved and parents have been asked to monitor the activity of their children on their smart phones.