WAITING IN THE WINGS: BJP President Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari may prefer a co-operative puppet like Sudin Dhavalikar in power, who like other MGP leaders is willing to desert the MGP for the chief minister’s post
With Manohar Parrikar likely to be away from Goa over two months and unwilling to hand over power to any of his colleagues the likelihood is that the Centre will take over with Nitin Gadkari calling the shots
By Rajan Narayan
THE probability is that ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar will recommend President’s rule in Goa if he has not already done so. Parrikar has done so once in the past and the present circumstances give him no choice. Even if Parrikar himself thinks he is a superman and can run the government from his hospital bed in the United States, it is unlikely that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) high command, particularly BJP President Amit Shah, will wait for Parrikar’s return which will take over two months.
The urgency is because of the Karnataka elections due in May. Amit Shah wants a government in Goa which will be willing to do his bidding on sharing a larger part of Mhadei water with Karnataka. Nitin Gadkari is close to Sudin Dhavalikar who is willing to join the BJP if he is given the chief minister’s post. Sudin would be happy to oblige Amit Shah and help win Karnataka back for the BJP.
IT IS now confirmed beyond the shadow of any doubt that Parrikar is suffering from an illness which is much more serious than mild pancreatitis. Though everyone is reluctant in the party and even among the opposition to use the C word, the likelihood is that he has pancreatic cancer and has already under gone two rounds of chemotherapy.
The Inspector General, Jaspal Singh, can arrest me for writing on Parrikar’s health if he wants to make an ass of himself. Nobody goes all the way to the United States for treating mild pancreatitis. The very fact that Parrikar had to be rushed to the hospital the day after he made a brief appearance in the Legislative Assembly and read a few words of the Budget would suggest that he is seriously ill.
The unfinished Budget is the biggest matter of concern as it is not even half a budget or any kind of legitimate financial statement, as it does not show how the resources for the expenditure projected will be raised. This must be the first presented by any finance minister which does not have any tax proposals although it projects a surplus. Where the surplus will come from when the State has a debt of over `13 crore is not known.
Parrikar’s hopes that the financial situation will improve by the revival of mining has been dashed by the rejection of the demand of the all-party delegation that they should permit renewal of mining which is expected to come on March 16th.
THE bigger problem is that Parrikar does not have a second in demand whom he trusts. According to the Constitution, the State cannot function without a chief minister.
The members of the Cabinet individually do not have any financial power. No cabinet minister can sanction one paise of development expenditure without the permission of the finance minister who is also the chief minister. The ministers are nominees of the chief minister and derive their power from him. And Parrikar has refused to hand over his chair or even name an acting chief minister to sit on his chair till he is fully recovered to be able to do his job of running the State.
Parrikar would ideally prefer to hand over charge to his trusted principle secretary Krishnamurthy who was with him when he was defence minister also but there is no provision of making Babu the chief minister or acting chief minister.
The arrangement acting as a chief minister has made just will not work. Parrikar has indicated or authorised individual ministers to spend only up to a limit of `50 lakhs. It is doubtful if they can even build a couple of toilets with the money and still keep their commission. For expenditure above `50 lakhs the chief minister has constituted a committee of cabinet ministers.
The committee of cabinet ministers, which includes Sudin Dhavalikar of the MGP, Vijai Sardesai of the GF and Francis D’Souza, the one time deputy chief minister in the Parrikar government, have authority to spend or sanction projects worth only 5 crore. It will require more than that to build all the unfinished bridges and the super speciality blocks of the GMC for which Parrikar laid the foundation. We hope the super speciality ward will include a state of the art speciality section for gastro problem and cancer so that if chief ministers are unfortunate enough to develop cancer they don’t have to go to Mumbai or the United States.
WHAT happens to mega projects which the chief minister has been taking about? Where will be the funds for the unemployment scheme come from? It may be recalled that the chief minister, not in the budget but during interaction with his cabinet, had announced that all unemployed Goans will get `3,000 per month. They may not get the money directly, but it would be given to existing and old industries which will provide training for Goans for jobs. It is estimated there are more than 1.5 lakhs Goan registered with the unemployment exchange. There are not enough government jobs to accommodate them and they do not have the skills required for the private jobs which are coming up in Goa. Both the tourism and casino industry, which are the only industries which are doing well, prefer migrants to Goans, particularly in senior positions. The issue is who will sanction the funds under the unemployment scheme, other schemes like the Ladli Laxmi Scheme, Grah Laxmi Scheme etc, and the Goa government’s share for the Mopa airport.
The speculation is that the Assembly will be dissolve as Parrikar and Amit Shah want a pure BJP government and not a khichdi government. There will probably be President’s rule, which means that effectively Nitin Gadkari will be running Goa from the Raj Bhavan.
This will suit Amit Shah who will make commitments to Karnataka to give them more water so that the party is able to win the elections in Karnataka. The midterm elections in Goa I understand will be held either in May to coincide with the Karnataka elections, or in December to coincide with the Parliamentary elections.