PERMANENT: (l to r) Independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar, Goa Forward Party MLAs Jayesh Salgaonkar, Vinod Paliencar, Vijai Sardesai, and independent MLAs Rohan Khaunte, and Govind Gaude, before meeting the Central BJP team in Panaji on Sunday. They claim they asked for a permanent solution to the crisis caused by the prolonged illness of Manohar Parrikar
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Sanatan Sanstha claimed that it had the support of the North Goa MP and Ayush Minister Shripad Naik. For a Saturday following the week when Nitin Gadkari was reportedly barred from interfering in Goa’s political mess. For a Saturday following the week when for the first time even the Goa Chamber of Commerce expressed concern over the lack of governance in the absence of Manohar Parrikar. For a Saturday following the week when not only the departments under the control of Manohar Parrikar, but even those controlled by the equally sick PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar, seem to have collapsed.
And a few stray thoughts on the Sanatan Sanstha claiming that it had the support, not only of the Dhavalikar brothers, but even the Union Minister for Ayush and North Goa MP Shripad Naik.
In a report appearing in the Herald dated September 20th the Sanatan state convener Dr Manoj Solanki is reported to be quoting Shripad Naik as stating that “Sanatan Sanstha should ignore its opponents and carry out its mission. Those opposing Sanatan cannot cause any harm to it”. Solanki claims that he along with other Sanatan members had submitted the memorandum on behalf of Sanatan Sanstha insisting that “it is wrong and unfair the demand the ban on Sanatan. The memorandum submitted reportedly claims that the Sanatan and its seekers are striving selflessly for more than the past two decades to spread and propagate Hindu dharma to create awareness regarding spirituality, spiritual practices, culture and the nation in society”.
Although Solanki insists that none of those arrested for the murder of Gauri Lankesh and Dr Dabholkar are activists of the Sanatan, the kind of destructive spirituality that the Sanatan promotes is highlighted in the cover story which reproduces excerpts from Jayant Athavale’s book on the ‘spiritual practices’ that seekers should follow to eliminate ‘evildoers’. ‘Evildoers’ of course includes anyone oppose to the views of the Sanatan Sanstha and the ‘spiritual practices’ include instructions on using violence.
A new digital channel also claims in a WhatsApp message that Sanatan had expressed support to Dhavalikar’s demand to be made the chief minister if the BJP high command decided to retire Manohar Parrikar.
In the meanwhile in its continuing effort to intimidate and terrorize, the advocate for the Sanatan Sanstha has sent a fresh legal notice to the editor, publisher, and the author of an article, Johnson TA, who is not even an employee of Goan Observer. The writer Johnson had reported in the Indian Express Mumbai edition that the ATS and the CBI had disclosed that those arrested allegedly for the murder of Gauri Lankesh and Dr Dabolkar may have been funded from the Ponda bank accounts of the Sanatan Sanstha.
It is a convention, if not a maxim in law, that an individual or organization acquitted in defamation cases filed by a party cannot be charged with defamation yet again. The Sanatan Sanstha had filed both a criminal and civil defamation case against the Goan Observer way back in 2008, both of which were decided in favour of the Goan Observer. The defamation suits were filed claiming that our reproduction of their self-defence manual which trains sadaks of the Sanatan in arms was defamatory.
In his judgment in the civil defamation case filed against Goan Observer, Justice Scaria had pointed unambiguously that arms were the exclusive preserve of the army and law enforcing agencies and private organizations were not authorized to either impart arms training or have private armies.
It would appear as though ultra-right wing organizations have become bolder after the speech of Mohan Bhagwat of the RSS Chief in United State where he proclaimed that the Hindutva lion was being hounded by wild dogs, implying that the minorities were wild dogs.
The Sanatan is obviously trying to take maximum advantage of the leadership crisis to install Sudin Dhavalikar as the chief minister despite opposition from Amit Modi. The book ‘Shadow Armies’ by a Delhi journalist confirms that organizations like Sanatan Sanstha and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) are frontal organisations of the RSS.
The Sanatan and HJS have always used defamation suits to silence and intimidate critics. Defamation suits are an even more effective tool then assassination, as it means long, drawn-out torture given the amount of time a case takes to get decided.
The Sanatan makes sure it files all its cases, at least in relation to the media and social activists, in Goa in the Ponda District Court, as the editors and publishers of media, who have offices in Panjim, have to make literally hundreds of trips to Ponda. We in the Goan Observer and our lawyers, have gone to Ponda more than 200 times over the 10 years it took for the courts to dispose of both the criminal and the civil cases. Unlike in the case of civil defamation cases, in the case of criminal defamation cases the defendants have to be present on virtually every date of the hearing. The hundred plus cases filed by the Sanatan and HJS on the most frivolous grounds are a very effective way of preventing people from exposing the literally deadly activities of the Sanatan seekers. We are saying this with a due sense of responsibility as the book Spiritual Practice of Protecting Seekers and Destroying Evildoers, compiled by Dr Jayant Balaji Athavale and Dr (Mrs) Kunda Jayant Athavale, not only describes who are ‘evildoers’ according to the Sanatan but also who is best equipped spiritually to get rid of evildoers and even provides a time table for destroying evildoers.
We have an original copy of the guidelines for destroying evildoers and would be happy to make it available to the SIT of Karnataka and Maharashtra, the CBI and the anti-terrorism squad. We would also be equally happy to make it available to the Director General of Police, Mr Muktesh Chandra and the Inspector General Police Mr Jaspal Singh. Indeed I had offered all the material we had to Mr Jaspal Singh when I accidentally bumped into him having dinner with the chief minister’s principle private secretary Krishna Murthy, but he showed no interest.
Even if Manohar Parrikar was not ill it is unlikely that he would respond to the demand for a ban on the Sanatan made by social activists at the solidarity meeting for Damodar Mauzo, who is reportedly on their hit list, as his kodel would be threatened if the Dhavalikars, who support the Sanatan, withdraw support to the BJP government.
STAY AWAY GADKARI
And a few stray thoughts on on the fall from grace of the Union Minister for Transport Nitin Gadkari.
It was Nitin Gadkari who conducted the surgical strike to make Manohar Parrikar the chief minister of Goa. Despite the BJP getting only 13 of the 40 seats in the Legislative Assembly, Nitin Gadkari managed to secure a majority overnight, enabling Parrikar to stake his claim to the chief ministership.
Gadkari did this by getting both the MGP headed by Sudin Dhavalikar, and the GF which was in talks with Congress, to extend support to the BJP government. Gadkari also persuaded the three independent MLAs to support the BJP by offering two of them, Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gaude, berths in the Cabinet. The MGP in turn was rewarded with two important portfolios with the PWD going to Sudin Dhavalikar and tourism going to Babu Asgaocar. All three members of the Goa Forward were also given Cabinet berths.
So Gadkari managed to turn a humiliating defeat into a victory for the BJP. Gadkari of course had his own agenda. Gadkari, acting on the interests on the business lobby, particularly Adani and the Jindals, wanted to make Goa the hub of coal imports. Gadkari, in pursuit of his ambition to convert the MPT into a dirty cargo port, also allotted Central funds liberally to expand and create new national highways, which have been his specialty. Gadkari also had plans to convert Mopa into the biggest cargo hub in the country.
Unfortunately for Gadkari the people of Goa rose in revolt against his plans for increasing the coal handling capacity from around 10 million tonnes to over 80 million tonnes.
When Parrikar fell ill Gadkari tried very hard to replace him with the MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar. Partly because Sudin Dhavalikar being connected with the Sanatan was acceptable to the RSS which has been calling the shots. Also possibly because of the reports that Nitin Gadkari’s son is marrying Sudin Dhavalikar’s daughter. The chief ministership was perhaps meant to be a reverse dowry by Gadkari to Dhavalikar, besides the benefit he would have through having a chief minister who would do his bidding.
Though Gadkari was responsible for making Parrikar the chief minister, he could not manipulate him. Parrikar has a mind of his own and commanded considerable influence with Narendra Modi, whom he has consistently supported. It was at the executive committee meeting of the BJP held in the Marriot in Goa in 2002, post the riots in Godhra, that Parrikar along with Advani saved Narendra Modi from the anger of the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who wanted Modi, then the Gujarat chief minister, sacked for not following raj dharma.
Again it was in the 2012 executive committee meeting of the BJP held in Goa that Parrikar provided the wind for Modi to soar to the prime minister’s post. It was at this meeting that it was decided that Modi would be the chief spokesperson of the BJP in the 2014 election. This was in the face of strong objections from patriarch LK Advani and even the present External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
It is clear however that the ailing Parrikar himself is totally against Dhavalikar being made the chief minister or acting chief minister. Which is why Nitin Gadkari, whose preference for Dhavalikar is well known, has been barred from coming to Goa and trying to bully and blackmail the coalition partners to support Sudin Dhavalikar for the chief minister’s post.
This horrible prospect could still happen if Parrikar is forced to retire from politics because of his health conditions. Apparently all his trips to New York have not really helped as he still cannot swallow any solid food. A continuous liquid diet is bound to make him feel weak and deprive him off the energy to handle 30 portfolios.
And a few stray thoughts on industry for the first time being critical of the lack of governance. In the normal course industry bodies and individual industrialists never say anything against the government, let alone against a chief minister like Manohar Parrikar who is alleged to be very vindictive. But the ground reality is that business and industry have been the worst victims of the lack of leadership that Manohar Parrikar provided. His absence comes at a time when his skills for manipulation and his clout with New Delhi are needed the most. The mining industry which is at a standstill following the cancellation of all the leases renewed by Parsekar and Parrikar, was banking on him to restart activity.
During one of his brief visits to Goa during the seven-month period of his illness, Parrikar had promised to persuade Narendra Modi to amend the 1987 act which converted the mining concessions given by the Portuguese government into mining leases. This would have retained of the ownership of mines with the families who were given the concessions and have facilitated the immediate resumption of mining. The mining industry was expecting Parrikar to use his influence to get an ordinance passed to enable the resumption of mining.
Instead, in the absence of Parrikar, the mining industry is facing the heat with the Department of Mines asking Vedanta to pay dues of royalties and fines for illegal mining. The truck owners had demanded a dole of `25,000 for Chovoth and continuing the dole till mining starts. The barge owners are also unemployed with no transport of ore or coal. The only vessels seen in the Mandovi River are river cruise boats or offshore casinos.
For the first time in our memory of 35 years the president of the GCCI, Sandeep Bhandari, has admitted that industry has been affected by Parrikar’s absence. Bhandari has pointed out that most of the industry problems are long term and require long term solutions for which the guidance of Manohar Parrikar is essential. Bhandari also made a reference to the power problems the industry is facing due to frequent breakdowns.
The power minister is in the ICU and it looks as though the Electricity Department is also in the ICU. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is an all Indian body, has also been critical of the performance of the government in the absence of Parrikar. The vice chairman of CII, Lalit Saraswat, pointed out that even day-to-day work, relating to the 30 departments under the charge of Manohar Parrikar, had not been delegated, causing problems for industry.
And a last stray thought on departments under the charge of PWD Minister Sudin Dhavalikar doing even worse than departments under Parrikar. As PWD Minister it was the duty of Dhavalikar to ensure that there was adequate water supply at least during the festive Chovoth season.
To make matters worse, Dhavalikar himself was away in hospital for more than a month and did not even attend much of the Assembly session. There has been widespread scarcity of water, particularly in the Bardez Taluka, due to major problems at the 50 MLD water treatment plant at Assonora. Apparently all the three pumps of the 50 MLD plant have broken down simultaneously.
Tourism has also been affected as Calangute, Candolim and Anjuna have also been facing serious water shortage. Among the worst affected is Mapusa city, which did not get water for all the five days of Chovoth.
There have also been similar breakdowns of pipes supplying water to Tiswadi and the capital city Panjim. The problems of the Water Supply Department of the PWD are compounded by frequent breakdowns in power supply to the Opa water works.
As far as the roads are concerned the less said, the better. There is not a single highway or low-way which is not full of potholes. Nobody is willing to buy Sudin Dhavalikar’s excuse that when there are heavy rains potholes are inevitable.