RAGE: Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar is reported to have heaped filthy abuse on Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and BJP National Party President Amit Shah, although he claims that he only abused BJP State President Vinay Tendulkar (l to r) Parsekar, Shah, Tendulkar and Parrikar
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday following the week when in the absence of the cementing glue the BJP seems to be falling apart. For a Saturday following week when a senior official from L&T, which is building the third Mandovi Bridge, disclosed that two-wheelers may not be able to use it. For a Saturday following the week when the Goan media again displayed its gutlessness in not defending the India Today team. For a Saturday following a week when it appeared as though it was the courts which were regulating the functioning of the government rather than the elected representatives.
And a few stray thoughts on the continued public strife between various senior leaders of the BJP.
Historically the BJP, which has an RSS base, has been considered the most disciplined party in the country. There is rarely been any public name calling and abuse, unlike the case of other parties, including the Congress. But this is no longer true, at least in the case of Goa. Not only former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, whose rival Dayanand Sopte was invited to join the BJP, but even other senior leaders have started attacking the top leadership of the party.
Parsekar, who has close links to the RSS, is even reported to have abused party president Amit Shah, ailing CM Manohar Parrikar and of course the president of the state BJP, Vinay Tendulkar. The state party president has accused Parsekar of using filthy language against the national party president and Parrikar. Tendulkar is insisting that Parsekar must apologize as a pre-condition for any talks with him.
Parsekar’s hands seem to have been strengthened by former RSS chief Subhash Velingkar. Velingkar, who mentored Parrikar and other BJP leaders in the state, broke away from the RSS on the language issue. Velingkar along with the others are upset over Parrikar’s compromise with the Church permitting them to switch the medium of instruction from Devanagari Konkani to English. Only schools run by the Diocesan Society and other Catholic orders were allowed to retain grants despite switching to English.
This concession was not extended even to leading private Hindu management schools like People’s High Schools and Mustifund for their English divisions at the primary level. In fairness it must be pointed out that other English medium primary schools run by private management like Red Rosary and Babush’s school, St Michael High School, also do not get grants for their primary section. There is also one other significant exception which is the English medium primary schools run for a long time by Vijaya Devi Rane, wife of former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane.
In fact long before Parrikar agreed to regularise the grants to English medium Church-run primary schools, Bal Bhavan used to get grants for its English medium schools. Velingkar who still enjoys a lot of support around the RSS cadres has announced that he would be going to Madrem to extend solidarity with Parsekar. We can understand the BJP and the RSS side-lining Francis D’Souza as the RSS would never have accepted him as a chief ministerial candidate. But unlike Francis, both Parsekar and Arlekar are very committed RSS and BJP workers.
This again dramatizes that without the ‘Feviquick’, Manohar Parrikar, which bound not only the BJP MLAs but even the alliance partners together, the government and the party is falling apart. It is also clear that Parrikar’s health has become so delicate that he is not in a position to sort out the differences within the party.
I doubt whether Parrikar was even consulted before Amit Shah gave the green signal to hijack Subhash Shirodkar and Dayananad Sopte. The move, which was apparently masterminded by Vishwajit Rane with the agenda of succeeding Parrikar as chief minister, has been a public relations disaster.
Soon after Subhash Shirodkar joined the BJP came the revelation that the government had acquired a huge chunk of land from him at an inflated price. As against the `45 per sq mt for which the Shirodkar brothers brought the land, the government without assigning any reason is alleged to have paid more than `3,000 per sq mtr making Subhash Shirodkar richer by `70 crore.
Dayanand Sopte on his part has been shouting from the roof top that he joined the BJP because he has been promised both a Cabinet berth and the chairmanship of the GTDC. While these claims are probably true they would never have been revealed if Parrikar has been around to control the flock.
The alliance partners also seem to be talking in different voices. Goa Forward boss Vijai Sardesai, who has strengthened his position by getting the support of the three Independents, is claiming that there is no question of a new chief minister as Parrikar was very much around and active.
It has even been claimed that Parrikar chaired a four hour long meeting of the Investment Promotion Board in which proposals of around `700 crore were approved. For whatever reason both the IPB and Parrikar’s chamchas are not willing to release the video of the so called four hour video conference. There is only a clumsy clarification that because of a technical fault Parrikar’s picture cannot be seen in the video. So a ghost may have conducted the four hour meeting of the Investment Promotion Board.
There has been talk of Vishwajit Rane, Vinay Tendulkar and Promod Sawant being candidates considered to succeed Parrikar. The first two were called to Delhi and the third Promod went on his own to stake his claim pointing out that he was the chief minister’s choice. But in the light of the revolt by Parsekar and Arlekar the High Command seems to have changed its mind.
In any case none of these candidates would have been acceptable to the alliance partners. Sudin Dhavalikar has made it repeatedly clear that he expects to be made the chief minister if Parrikar steps down for any reason. Now of course there is talk of Shripad Naik who might be acceptable to everyone because he will let them do whatever they want.
And a few stray thoughts on the surprising revelation by a senior engineer working on the third Mandovi Bridge that two-wheelers may not be able to use it.
The excuse offered is that because of the height of the bridge (which towers over the existing two bridges) the wind velocity will be very high. So though two wheelers are not barred from using the bridge they may get blown off. The cat is out of the bag. There is been a lot of speculation on why Goa needed a third bridge over the Mandovi when it already had two bridges. Admittedly, unlike the existing bridges the third bridge offers direct connectivity between the north and the south highway without having to pass through Panjim city bus stand. With the Mopa airport being promoted primarily as cargo hub rather than as a passenger terminal a good road and bridge network is necessary. The third Mandovi bridge will in effect link Mopa airport to the MPT. It is all part of the larger conspiracy by Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu to make Goa a logistics hub which in simple language means that the capacity of the port will be expanded if only to be able to import more coal and even iron ore. Similarly, if Mopa is to be a cargo hub, roads and bridges leading to it will have to take the load of huge containers. And the engineer working on the third Mandovi bridge has admitted that it is really meant for heavy vehicles, and not for light vehicles, let alone two wheelers.
Two wheeler are in any case considered cockroaches by those who owned fancy SUVs as they can wriggle in and out of traffic and contribute to traffic jams. Unlike in other parts of the country where governments are more concerned with the welfare of aam aadmi than industry, it is the reverse in Goa.
The only attempt made at creating a desperately needed public transport system was the sky bus proposed by Konkan Railway. When the Konkan Railway was built there was a proposal to extend it so that it could also cover and connect, not only the capital city Panjim, but also the coastal belt and serve as a suburban railway as in Bombay. Metros are coming up all over the country, even in smaller towns like Pune. But there is no talk of a metro in Goa which attracts five times its population as tourists. If there was reliable public transport, every Goan would not be forced to buy one or more two-wheelers.
Even from the security point of view the reason why there are so many attacks on foreigners near the beaches at night is the lack of public transport system. Buses going to the beach stop at 7 pm. Even in Panjim the last bus is around 8.30 pm. So anyone who wants to enjoy the night life of Goa is at the mercy of the taxi mafia or has to hire a two-wheeler. Let us get one thing clear — the new Mandovi bridge and the new Zuari bridge and the road widening is being done not for the aam aadmi but for the khas aadmi.
GUTLESS GOAN MEDIA
And a few stray thoughts on the gutlessness of the Goan media.
About a couple of weeks ago a TV team from the India Today TV channel managed to get into the Sanatan Sanstha HQ in the Ramnathi compound in north Goa. Some pictures of meditating sadvis were shown on India Today TV.
The Sanatan which enjoys the patronage of the Dhavalikar brothers who control the Ponda Taluka, promptly filed a police complaint against India Today. The police complaint against the two India Today staffers, Mayuresh Ganpatye and Cameraman Mahesh More, was filed at the Ponda police station for allegedly illegally filming the HQ of the Sanatan at Ramnathi.
The complaint filed by Sanatan managing trustee Virendra Marathe also takes objection to the filming of a lady standing in the premises and then broadcasting the videos on October 10 in the special program.
The Bombay Press Club in a statement condemning the harassment of India Today’s staffers protested to the governor Mrs Mridula Sinha. The statement issued by the Mumbai Press Club states “The act of filing a police complaint is nothing but an attempt to terrorize genuine journalists and prevent them from performing their duties. In a democratic country, filming and recording persons and institutions is not a crime, as long as there is no breach of national security. In fact it is shocking that the Ponda police station stooped to take cognizance of such a complaint. We fear that using a complaint the police at the instance of the Sanatan may harass and interrogate the two journalists and even try a detain or arrest them. It is pertinent to note that Sanatan Sanstha has published the images of two other India Today reporters on their website wwwhindujagruthi.org labelling them terrorists. The two journalists had carried out a sting operation where they trapped two Sanatan operatives admitting on tape that they had been part of the team that planted bombs in 2008. The video evidence was aired on the channel earlier in the week”.
Independently, there has been disclosure by the National Investigative Agency listing one of those absconding accused in the 2008 bomb blast case (which would have claimed the life of Digambar Kamat) among the ‘most wanted’ criminals.
Interestingly, while Prakash Kamat of the Hindu has been forwarding the Mumbai Press Club press note and protests to the media whatsapp group, no Goan TV network or newspaper, except for Goan Observer, has had the guts to take on the Sanatan Sanstha. I do not know if even the Hindu carried the Mumbai Press Club protest letter to the governor in its various editions, since it was forwarded by their correspondent in Goa.
SC PUTS OUT FIREWORKS
And a last stray thought on the Supreme Court now ensuring that there will be more light, and less noise, this Diwali.
There has been a long standing demand from pollution activists to ban fire crackers altogether. Particularly in cities like Bombay, the noise generated is unbearable. The Modi government of course has refused to regulate the bursting of crackers as they do not want to offend the majority community.
A curious part of the cracker business is that in recent years the markets are flooded with noisier and fancier crackers from China. This is in addition to all the bombs produced at Sivakasi, a town in Tamil Nadu which makes 80% of all the crackers in the country. Most of the crackers are made by bonded child labour.
The Supreme Court while rejecting the call for a total ban on crackers has limited the bursting of crackers to two hours between 8 pm to 10 pm on the occasion of Diwali and 11:45 pm to 12:30 am on New Year and Christmas. The Supreme Court has also laid down stringent conditions on the kind of crackers that can be burst. According to the Supreme Court directive, only green crackers, with reduced noise levels will be permitted. This is on the basis that crackers contribute significantly towards pollution. The Supreme Court also banned the online sale of crackers by Amazon and Flipkart.
From triple talaq to Sabarimala to the variety and kind of crackers that can be burst, everything is being regulated by the Supreme Court because the government does not want to take any decisions which might offend the majority community.