ANGRY: The niece of Bishop Rebello, after whom the Colva circle was named, has objected to the renaming of the area as Opinion Poll Square

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the belated Opinion Poll golden jubilee was hijacked by the Goa Forward chief Vijai Sardesai. For a Saturday following the week when unfortunately the debate on the Opinion Poll has taken a communal turn. For a Saturday following the week when the MPT threatened to lay off workers following the withdrawal of consent for coal handling. For a Saturday following the week when Karnataka has been forced to stop work on the diversion of the Mhadei at Kankumbi near Belgavi. For a Saturday following the week when the director of SETHU, Dr Nandita D’Souza was shockingly a victim of  cyber fraud.


AND a few stray thoughts on Vijai Sardesai hijacking the delayed celebration of the golden jubilee of the Opinion Poll. As Uday Bhembre, who played an important role in the victory of the anti-merger forces, pointed out, the celebrations were being held when the 52nd anniversary was about to begin. During the golden jubilee year 2017 all political parties, including the BJP and the Congress, ignored the event which gave them their kodels.

Uday Bhembre, one of the leaders of the Opinion Poll battle, used to write a very powerful column under the title Bhahmastra (a powerful divine weapon) urging Marathi speaking Hindus to vote against merger. This was very critical, as the main demand for merger was from the MGP which was dominated by Marathi speaking Hindus. He is angry that the celebration was delayed by two years and believes it is an insult to Goan asmitai.

Vijai Sardesai has tried to take the credit for the Opinion Poll victory although he was not even born when the anti-merger forces saved Goa from becoming part of Maharashtra. Sardesai has spent crores of rupees in putting up banners every hundred meters throughout Goa from Pernem to Canacona along with an image of Jack Sequeira whom the minority community consider the ‘Father of the Opinion Poll’. If Vijai did not have such a huge ego he should have put a photograph of his uncle, eminent writer Ravindra Kelekar, in the banner along with Jack Sequeira. This is because just as Jack Sequeira was the leader of the Catholic minority community, Ravindra Kelekar, who is not only a sathiya carnival but the only Goan who won the Giyanipeth award, mobilised not only the Hindu upper classes but also the Bahujan Samaj against the merger. The other majority community leaders who played a major role like Chandrakant Keni, Uday Bhembre, Shankar Bhandari and Ulhas Buyao, to mention only a few, were all inspired by Dr Ravindra Kelekar. Indeed the people of South Goa voted for Vijai Sardessai and the Goa Forward not because of any love for Vijai but because he was the nephew of Ravindra Kelekar.

In any case Vijai Sardesai was taught a lesson by the people of South Goa who inaugurated the Opinion Poll Square at Colva a day before the formal ceremony. The activists against coal and other destructive projects got an aam aurat to inaugurate the memorial. Vijai Sardesai used his control and his closeness to the mayor of Margao, Babita Angle, to declare the Colva circle which is named after Bishop Rebello, the Opinion Poll Square. Only Vijai can convert a Rebello Circle into an Opinion Poll Square. Not surprisingly the relatives of Bishop Rebello have objected to re-naming the Rebello Circle, Opinion Poll Square.


AND a few stray thoughts on the unfortunate turn that the Opinion Poll debate has taken on social media. In the normal course I would have ignored the comments but I am strongly committed to any attempt to divide the people of Goa along communal lines particularly when the golden jubilee of Opinion Poll is being observed. The canard on the social media is that the Opinion Poll was fought along religious and caste lines. It is being alleged by BJP bhakts that the Hindus were in favour of merger with Maharashtra and it was only the Catholic minority community which was opposing the merger. It is also claimed that it is only the upper caste or more specifically the Saraswat Brahmin Hindus who voted against merger. Even worse is the claim that all Marathi speaking Goans were in favour of merger.

I have the right to call myself an expert on the subject having been involved in writing the most exhaustive and deeply researched book on the Opinion Poll called the ‘Triumph of Secularism’. The late Sharon Cruz, who was a very highly respected historian not only in Goa but internationally, spent over a year researching every aspect of the Opinion Poll. We recall looking at every document including newspaper cuttings in Marathi, Konkani (both in Devanagiri and Romi English), and even Portuguese, to ensure that our history of the Opinion Poll was an objective assessment of what happened. Thanks to Dattaraj Salgaocar of Goa Publications we had more than enough resources to travel to Mumbai, Pune,   Delhi and wherever else we could find materials. We even managed to interview those who participated in the Opinion Poll, including Mohan Dhariya, who was then a senior Congress leader and played a very important role. Those who really want to know the truth can log on to and read the real history of the Opinion Poll.

But for the record I would like to strongly refute the claim that only Catholics were opposed to the merger of Goa with Maharashtra. The percentage of Catholics in the total population according to the 1961 census was 38%. By 1967 this should have reduced sharply due to Goans migrating to Portugal and another countries after liberation in 1961, and the huge army of officials and Marathi school teachers entering Goa from the neighbouring states. My personal estimate is that the percentage of Catholic Goans or more specifically Catholic voters in the Opinion Poll could not be more than 35% even taking into account the thousands of Goans who came by air, boat and bus to vote in the Opinion Poll.

The percentage by which the anti-merger forces won was 54%. Which means that even if all the 35% of the Catholic population, including babes in arms, voted against merger, the battle could not have been won without the support of the Hindus. So atleast 19% of the voters belong to the Hindu Community. It could not be that the only Hindus who against merger were the Saraswat Brahmins. This is because the Saraswats account for less than 5% of the Goan population. So a percentage of the Marathi speaking  Bhaujan Samaj must also have voted against merger as Uday Bhembre asserts. It is true that the majority of the Bhaujan Samajh which included not only Hindus but even some Catholics may have voted for merger. Not because they wanted Goa to be part of Maharashtra, but out of regard for Dayanand Bandodkar, who had initiated the Tenancy and the Mundkar Acts to free them from the domination of Saraswat landlords.

I have always believed that all political developments are influenced more by economic factors than religious and caste factors. Modi would not have won the Parliamentary elections if only the majority community had voted for him.  And Modi will probably not return to power in 2019 primarily because the achhe din that he promised show no signs of arriving. People voted for jobs and not for Hindutva.


AND a few stray thought  on the threat by the MPT to retrench workers if the consent to handle coal is not restored to the Jindals. It may be recalled that the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) revoked the consent to operate because the Jindals were exceeding the permitted quantity by over 200%. To add to the concern over pollution due to the handling of coal at MPT, the people of Vasco went into panic when huge quantities of smoke was witnessed in the Adani’s coal dump.

The MPT has now admitted that following the ban on mining it has been encouraging huge imports of coal. The MPT is on record saying that 80% of its revenue now comes from the import and the handling of the coal by the Jindals and the Adanis. It claims that the withdrawal of the consent to operate to the Jindals will result in a loss of `90 crore this year and as much as `300 crore next year. The MPT has also been told not to permit any import of coal or handling of coal in the port following its admission that it has not installed pollution control measures. This is major setback for Parrikar who has been defending the import of coal claiming that the bulk of the power supply in Goa is from coal burning thermal power plants.

It is clear that the MPT is primarily responsible for the pollution crisis created by permitting the import of increasing quantities of coal. In the case of ore at least Goa was benefited, as the government received royalty from ore which was exported. In the case of coal it is imported for the benefit for the steel and power generation units in Karnataka. It would appear that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is sacrificing the interest of Goa for the narrow political games of the BJP. It is actually the grand plan of Union Minister for Transport and Waterways Nitin Gadkari to convert Goa into a coal hub for the benefit of Karnataka. This is not out of any love for the people of Karnataka, but because Assembly elections are due in Karnataka in April and Amit Shah, the BJP party president, wants to make sure that the Congress is displaced and the BJP comes back to power in the state.


AND a few stray thoughts on Karnataka reviving work on the diversion of the Mhadei water. It came as a shock to Goa when a section of the press revealed that Karnataka has almost succeeded in cutting of the flow of water to the Surla river as a result of which the Surla waterfall had stopped. It was only then that the Goa Government woke up and demanded that Karnataka should stand by its commitment to the Tribunal. It is obvious that Karnataka has taken the letter written by Manohar Parrikar to state BJP president Yeddyurappa, who was the former chief minister, as license to resume work on the diversion of the Mhadei water. It is hard to believe this could have happened without the knowledge of Parrikar. We suspect that Karnataka stepped up work on the Khalsa for diverting Mhadei water after Parrikar’s recent visit to the national capital for meetings with Modi and Amit Shah.

Parrikar on his return announced very proudly that Modi had agreed to inaugurate the third Mandovi bridge even though nobody knows when the bridge will be complete. But if Karnataka continues to divert water from the Mhadei there will be no water in the Mandovi when Modi wants to inaugurate the bridge.

Belatedly Goa has protested against the illegal diversion of water. Unfortunately all the protesting is being done by the Goa Forward water work minister Vinod Paliencar and not the chief minister.  The water resources minister has made the situation worst by abusing Kannadigas which is wrong because there is no dispute between the people of Goa and the people of Karnataka.

Our fear is that we may see an action replay of the frequent wars between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu over the sharing of the Cauveri waters. In the case of the Cauveri it originate in Karnataka and terminates in Tamil Nadu. Karnataka has built huge dams across the Cauveri as it is planning to do in the case of Mhadei. The fate of the main paddy crop in Tamil Nadu depends on how much water is released by Karnataka. Even though there is a judgement by the Cauveri Waters Tribunal, Karnataka has been releasing less than 50% of the agreed amount. This is led to violence both in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, Kannadiga institutions were attacked. Promptly the Kannadigas attacked Tamil business houses and Tamil Nadu buses. Unfortunately for Tamil Nadu the majority of the population of Bengaluru, the capital of Karnataka, are Tamils and not Kannadigas. Even the legendry late Jayalalithaa and the super star Rajinikanth who has started a new party are from Karnataka. Rajinikanth was a bus driver in Bangalore before he became a superstar.

There are large numbers of Kannadigas settled in Goa and also a lot of Goans living in Bangalore. We only hope that the dispute over Mhadei does not lead to violence between the two communities. The signs are not good with KTC stopping its buses from going to Belgavi and Karnataka buses being stopped from coming to Goa.


AND a last stray thought for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Dr Nandita D’Souza of SETHI was a victim of cyber fraud. We are reproducing her Facebook post below as a warning to others who may be taken for a ride.

“Today I am in a very generous mood!

To start with, this morning I had a very expensive but effective, practical, hands on, one on one, personalized tutorial on cyber theft for which I paid a cool INR 35,000 in fees. Since my generosity is in full flow, I am sharing this educational experience with you FOR FREE! Here is the lesson…

I received a call from a very professional sounding lady from Tel 921370072 who wished me Namaskar in fluent Hindi confirming that I had a SBI debit card (which I haven’t used for around 5 years) and informing me that since it was an old card, it would be blocked and a new card would be issued. Since I had some points on my card, they needed to transfer this to my new card. I politely informed her that I would not be sharing any details about my card. To which she replied that that was very smart of me. However she assured me that they would not ask for any personal details like PIN, date of birth, etc. She told me the first 8 digits of my card number and said that I had to give the remaining digits, after which I would get a OTP which I should tell her to help her verify the new card.

I was hooked (I am giving myself 2 resounding slaps at this moment). When the OTP came through and I shared it (another 2 thapads) she said that the server was slow and that OTP had expired so a new one would be issued in a few moments. This went on for a few more times. Each time the OTP was ‘useless’ she apologized profusely and thanked me for my patience in sharing the new one.

In between I was attending to a dozen other things, so I too was distracted. She kept telling me not to disconnect, she had to talk to her manager and reconfirm. This time a man came on and again thanked me enthusiastically (by now, they had already spent around 25K of my money) I was thoroughly confused by now, so he helpfully informed me to delete all the old OTPs and ONLY tell him the last one. In this manner, I shared another 2 OTPs — he said ‘That’s the old one, tell me the new one’— a total of seven in all. Each time INR 4999 was withdrawn from my account — in payment to SBI Buddy and Paytm. In short, they were cyber thieves and I had been had big time.

I am aghast, astounded and ashamed that I allowed it to happen and did not suspect A THING till I received a call from SBI telling me that I had been a victim of cyber-theft. Unfortunately I was in my ‘complete’ senses and cannot blame my foolishness and gullibility on alcohol or drugs too! Maybe it is an early sign of dementia???

In hindsight I think my undoing was

1) hearing the first 8 digits of my debit card and thinking that this was confirmation of the authenticity of the caller

2) over-confidence in believing that I am an educated, savvy doctor who cannot be cheated

3) being distracted and hence not vigilant.

On the positive side

1) it could have been a larger amount

2) I still have both my kidneys

3) No one died in the process of ‘bakra-fication’

I have reported this matter to the bank and the police but it does not seem likely that the thieves will get caught. Apparently there is no way to trace them, though I have the phone number and transaction details??? How is that the thieves knew the first 8 digits of my card and had my phone number?? Looking for some answers from those of you who are cyber-money-smart.

I am sharing this crazy and now laughable story so that others may be protected. Never let your guard down and NEVER share your credit or debit card details with anyone. And if any of you reading this would like to pay for this lesson, inbox me and I will send you my bank details, ha! ha!

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