ACTION REPLAY: The decision of the BJP to embrace Mauvin Godinho is an action replay of Manohar Parrikar’s decision to induct Babush Monserrate into his cabinet in 2002 with the Town and Country Planning portfolio
Manohar Parrikar’s condoned former Power minister Mauvin Godinho of the power scam suggesting the money paid as power rebate illegally was recovered. He considers himself above the Supreme Court which has yet to declare whether Godinho is innocent of misusing his position as minister in the Rane cabinet
By Rajan Narayan
LIKE Chetan Bhagat’s book ‘Half Girlfriend’, Manohar Parrikar has introduced the concept of half scamster. According to the Defence minister, who was the leader of the opposition in 1996, Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho had only tried to rob the Power department when he was minister.
He did not succeed and the money that the government lost because of Godinho’s abuse and misuse of power was recovered. So, according to Parrikar, the matter is closed and the crime was prevented. By the same token, if Air Force chief Shashindra Pal Tyagi returns the bribes he allegedly took in the Westland chopper deal, he should be forgiven. Parrikar’s logic suggests that if the money is returned, then the criminal can be forgiven.
PARRIKAR may even invite him back to the Air Force like he has invited Godinho to return to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP). Never mind it is like the story of the cat which killed a thousand mice and then claimed it was going to Mecca to perform the Hajj, or take a holy dip in the Ganga.
The story goes back to 1996, when Pratap Singh Raoji Rane was chief minister. Parrikar had been elected to the Legislative Assembly from Panjim for the first time. Successive governments had given huge loans and encouraged steel rolling mills to set up units in various industrial states in Goa. These mills convert scrap into steel products used in the construction industry.
Their main raw material is power which they require in large quantities to operate their electric arc furnaces where the steel is melted and then made into shapes required. The government, or rather the Power minister, extended huge rebates to the steel rolling mills.
All the Congress politicians made money from the mills. Present Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Luizinho Faleiro as chairman of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) extended very generous loans of crores of rupees to the mills. The Power ministers in turn gave them huge rebates on the tariff.
VERY often the steel rolling mills were charged less than 10 per cent of what the normal consumer paid. But the promoters of the mills became increasingly greedy. They did not repay the loans that they had taken from the EDC or even pay the highly concessional power bills. Instead most stole large amounts of power by tapping the overhead lines illegally.
Rane decided enough was enough. He ordered the EDC to stop giving loans to the power guzzling, power stealing mills. The cabinet took a unanimous decision not to extend any rebates to the mills. Mauvin Godinho was Power minister in the Cabinet but despite the decision to stop rebates, he continued to do so beyond the cutoff date.
Parrikar, then a young and idealistic politician who wanted to prove himself, filed a complaint against Godinho for misusing and abusing his power to grant `60 crores worth of rebates despite the cabinet decision to ban it.
Godinho got into hot water. When the police began investigating, chief minister Rane confirmed that the cabinet had taken a decision to stop the rebates. He also confirmed that Godinho had defied the cabinet and illegally granted rebates to the mills. The police filed a charge sheet against Godinho as Rane had confirmed the evidence.
But the idealistic Parrikar soon showed that he was no different from the other crooks that joined politics. The Rane government was toppled by senior Congress leaders Francisco Sardinha and a group of Congress MLAs who included Godinho. The BJP group led by Parrikar decided to extend support to the rebel group to form the government.
Parrikar was under pressure to withdraw the case against Godinho. The latter was earlier in the opposition and an enemy as a member of the Rane government but became an ally and colleague when he joined the Sardinha and Parrikar conspiracy to topple the Rane government. So, the same Parrikar who had filed a case against Godinho in the Panjim police station for abetting theft of power by the steel rolling mills went to the same police station to withdraw the case.
THE courts however refused to let him do so because the charge sheet had already been filed.
Then politics took another twist. Parrikar decided to topple the Sardinha government which was accused of paying a broker a huge commission for getting a `150 crore-loan for the bankrupt government from the EDC. Parrikar withdrew his support to the Sardinha government and it collapsed.
He formed the government with the help of another faction of the Congress and some Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) leaders. He also took the help of crooked mercenaries like Babush Monserrate who he offered the Town and Country Planning portfolio. Since Godinho was no longer useful to him, Parrikar did not seek to withdraw the case.
GODINHO was convicted by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court and he appealed to the Supreme Court which ordered the return of the `60 crore that he had paid illegally as power rebate to the steel rolling mills. When Parrikar was questioned by the media on Thursday when he held a press conference with Godinho and Pandurang Madkaikar who have both joined the BJP, he claimed that Godinho had only attempted to commit a scam. Since the money had been recovered, Parrikar had decided to forgive him.
Parrikar historically has the reputation for being personally honest, though he has been accused of favouring close relatives. Former Industries minister and GPCC chief Luizinho Faleiro has accused Parrikar of granting a favourable settlement from the EDC in respect of a loan taken by his brother-in-law Raya Sankwalker of Symchem.
Parrikar has also been accused of forcing the local government to pay rent for the office he was occupying after he became Defence minister. He is also alleged to have intervened to get a plot in the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for his younger son.
In 2002, driven by his ambition to become the first BJP chief minister of Goa, Parrikar had bribed Babush Monserrate with the Town and Country Planning portfolio. Babush was the author of the notorious Regional Plan 2011 which sold Goa to the builders.
AFTER the dismissal of the Parrikar government due to popular protest, the RP 2011 was scrapped. Babush went to the extent of not only resigning his Congress seat, but persuading Pandurang Madkaikar and Isidore Fernandes to resign their seats in the party and get re-elected on BJP tickets to ensure the survival of the Parrikar government.
This time, Parrikar is repeating the mistake he committed in 2002 when he took the help of corrupt Taleigao MLA Babush Monserrate to hold on to power. This is because Godinho is as corrupt or more corrupt them Babush Monserrate. In addition, Parrikar has welcomed an equally corrupt Madkaikar who is a close associate of Babush to the BJP. Ironically in the Panjim municipal election, Madkaikar had floated the Congress panel and opposed both Babush and the BJP.
Parrikar may not be corrupt himself but has displayed total tolerance for corruption by his political friends and even non-political friends like former advocate general Atmaram Nadkarni who was the highest paid law officer of any state in the country. Nadkarni has now moved to Delhi as the additional solicitor general. At the recent wedding of his daughter with the son of a builder, it was obvious how much money – black or white – that he has made, as he and his family were wearing several kgs of gold jewellery.
THE BJP government in the centre and state are equally corrupt. Prime minister Narendra Modi has been accused of accepting `40 crores from Sahara Group chairman Subroto Roy who spent two years in jail for cheating people who invested in his finance companies. There are enquiries going on over corruption in many defence deals.
By associating with people like Mauvin Godinho and Pandurang Madkaikar, Parrikar’s image has become sullied. If you embraced people who have lived in stinking, dirty water all their life, you cannot smell like a rose. The emperor is naked.
It is time Parrikar realises that he has lost the respect of the people of Goa for integrity. Even worse, he has lost the trust of the Catholic minority community who considered him their god. Even Shanta Durga and Saibin cannot save the BJP.