PARALYSED: : The Goa Government has been paralysed for the last nine months as the CM who holds thirty portfolios including Finance, Home and Personnel, is in no condition to take any decisions
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
For over nine months there has been no government in Goa. With a chief minister who has pancreatic cancer and is too ill to take the decision. All the MLAs are equally responsible for the present state of complete absence of governance in the State. We did not vote them into power for fun. Goans are tired of being taken for granted and will storm the Assembly and the Raj Bhavan and the chief ministers house to force the formation of a government that works. Goans have been susegad long enough!
Enough is enough. Since February when Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer there has been no government in the state. It is almost nine months since the state has been headless. Can you imagine a headless chicken? Can you imagine a horse which does not have a jockey. Or to use a more modern metaphor a Mercedes car without a driver.
POWER IN ONE PAIR OF HANDS
In our Westminster style of Parliamentary democracy it is the chief minister who is the head of government in a state. All power in the state vests in the chief minister. When a new government is sworn in, the first to take the oath is the chief minister. Officially it is only the chief minister who has any power or authority to take decisions on behalf of the government.
There may be a dozen or more ministers. There may be two dozen chairpersons of corporations and PDAs. But not even senior-most Cabinet minister Sudin Dhavalikar, who holds the PWD portfolio and wants to become the chief minister, has full authority.
Similarly neither Vijay Sardesai nor Vishwajit Rane, who make so much noise and are fighting about formalin fish, can do anything about it. Indeed, the Constitution is very clear that whether it is ministers at the Centre or at the State level they hold office at the pleasure of the prime minister or chief minister, respectively. Every decision that is taken by a minister has to have the approval of the chief minister. Or at least has to have the consent of the chief minister who can refuse to let the minister implement a programme or policy.
The situation has been made even more complicated in the case of Goa. This is because even filling a pothole requires money. Building bridges and replacing the overhead electric wires and transformers requires money. Even implementing the ban on import of non-refrigerated vans carrying fish requires money. Ladli Laxmis will not get their dowry unless the finance minister sanctions it. Ultimately, every paisa that is spent by any department of the government, needs the approval of the finance minister.
In the case of Goa, the chief minister, who is also finance minister, was present at the budget session of the Assembly for barely ten minutes. Parrikar had just come back from Sloan Kettering Institute in New York but did not have the energy to read out the entire budget. Admittedly the budget was passed by the Assembly. But this only means that certain amounts of money were allotted to various departments.
We have another contradiction here, which is though Vijai Sardesai or Vishwajit Rane may be the TCP minister and the health minister respectively, they cannot issue any orders directly. In theory at least ministers can only take policy decisions. All orders have to be issued by the babus. Even the most important appointments and the most important policies appear in the gazette under the name of the undersecretary of the department concerned.
In the normal course this may not have mattered. In the case of Goa it matters because the Department of Personnel is again control by Manohar Parrikar. Which means that none of his colleagues in the Cabinet can appoint a single clerk or attendant, or even transfer a single UDC and LDC, let alone a director or secretary. To that extent, any power that a minister enjoys is limited by their inability to order the officials to do anything without the chief minister’s permission.
The most important department in any government is the Home portfolio. Contrary to the general impression the Home portfolio has nothing to do with our homes. It is nothing to do with whether dada or mama calls the shots or takes the decisions in our home. In government language the Home Department refers to law and order. It refers to who controls the police force and other law and order organisations like the CBI, the IB and the NIA. Here again, even if there is a major law and order problem in the State, neither Dhavalikar, nor Vijai, nor Vishwajit can do anything about it, because the police are directly under the command of Parrikar. In fact, if Parrikar wants to, he can get all three mantris who want to succeed him arrested on corruption charges.
Michael Lobo, the rebel Calangute MLA, has been shouting and screaming about jobs. Lobo has been pointing out that 3,000 vacancies in various departments of the government have not been filled for the last one year. Among the worst affected is the Electricity Department which has neither generals nor soldiers. The chief engineer is acting, so are the four superintendent engineers in the department. More importantly the Power Department does not have enough linesmen. But the jobs cannot be filled because Minister for Personnel Manohar Parrikar is seriously ill and in no position to take a decision.
All the mining MLAs want the immediate resumption of mining. Mining which had resumed has again been suspended as the Supreme Court had decided that the Mines Department had no authority to renew the licenses of those mining leases which had been suspended. The mining-affected, which included the MLAs elected from mining areas, who may not be get re-elected if mining does not resume, want action. They want the Central government to pass an ordinance. Unfortunately, again the only man who can do anything about it, namely the minister for mines, Manohar Parrikar, does not seem to be in any state to take decisions.
EVERYTHING ON HOLD
It is not just Finance, Home and Mining alone — Manohar Parrikar holds as many as 30 portfolios including very important ones like Education. Which is why the State is paralysed due to the serious medical problems of Chief Minister Parrikar.
It is irresponsible of the state BJP party and the BJP high command to torture a sick man by forcing him to retain the chief minister’s post. There was a serious move by the party president Amit Shah to replace Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister. Parrikar was reportedly willing but his candidate, Speaker Promod Sawant, was not acceptable to the high command, even though he is close to the RSS.
The bigger problem facing the BJP high command is that the alliance partners — three MGP MLAs, three Goa Forward MLAs and three Independents — pledged support not to the BJP but to Manohar Parrikar, claiming that as far as they are concerned no other BJP MLA is acceptable to them as an alternative. Not even Vishwajit Rane — who resigned his Congress seat and re-contested and won as a BJP candidate in the hope that he has a chance of following his father’s example and becoming the chief minister.
Vishwajit is banking on the fact that he is distantly related to Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of Rajasthan. But Sudin Dhavalikar believes that if the BJP asks Parrikar to step down, he, as the senior-most minister, should be appointed chief minister. The MGP has even threatened to withdraw support to the BJP government if a decision is not taken in a week.
CONGRESS: SNOOZE & LOSE
It is not only the BJP which is to be blamed for the state of total anarchy in the state since Parrikar took in. Indeed, the Congress could have prevented BJP from forming the government after the election in 2017. The Congress and not the BJP won the largest number of seats — 17 against the BJP’s 13. But the BJP was united, and acted very fast while the Congress wasted time fighting over who would occupy the chief minister’s kodel. The situation continues.
With Manohar Parrikar ill for over ten months and the party in a mess, the Congress has every opportunity to form the government. The strength of the BJP which has risen to 14 because of Vishwajit, stands reduced to 10 or 11 because various members of the party including the chief minister are not well. If the Congress, which historically has had a close relationship with the GF, had struck a deal, it could have toppled the BJP government. Not that they believed that the Congress would give better governance with less corruption than the BJP. But at least if the Congress had worked unitedly, instead of fighting with each other, Goans would have been relieved from their present state of hanging in the air. Any kind of government and governance is better than no governance at all.
It is clear that the BJP will not remove Manohar Parrikar from the chief minister’s post. It is clear that the alliance partners MGP and GF will not withdraw support to the BJP even if Parrikar is replaced by some other BJP candidate. This is because the term of the Assembly which came into being is one year old. There are still four years to go and none of them want to go to the voters again so soon. The nine months of political paralysis have meant none of the ministers have had sufficient opportunity to loot and plunder enough to bribe the voters if an election is held tomorrow.
Both the BJP MLAs and the Congress MLAs, not to mention the MGP MLAs, GF MLAs and Independents, are acting irresponsibly. They are acting like KG kids who refused to go to school. They are acting like college kids who bunk college and spend their time ‘chilling’ on Miramar beach. Not a single one of the 39 chors seems to be interested in the welfare of the people of Goa.
Not a single one of the 39 chors is interested in solving the problems of the lakhs of people who lost their job because of the suspension of mining. Not a single one of the MLAs is concerned with at least filling up the 3,000 vacancies which have been pending for more than a year. Not a single one of the MLAs is concerned over the illegal acts of the land sharks in collusion with the TCP and other officials. Nobody is bothered about the breakdown of the state of the art waste management plant at
Saligao and the garbage piling up. Nobody is bothered about the stink in Margao following the collapse of the Sonsoddo garbage treatment plant. Nobody is bothered about the mass failure of all 8,000 BCom graduate candidates who appeared for the post of accounts officer. Nobody is bothered about people not even applying for engineering seats, forget about getting jobs after completing their engineering. Nobody is concerned about the law and order problem which reports murders, attempts to molest minors, and other serious crimes every day.
While our elected representatives make merry, the State is being run by the chief minister’s principle secretary, P Krishnamurthy, an IAS officer. However even our babus are not saints. Apparently P Krishnamurthy, during his previous stay in Goa left his wife and children to live with a female income tax officer posted in Margao. The Supreme Court may have decriminalized adultery now but according to service rules an IAS office who commits adultery is liable to sacked.
Another babu, the nominal Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma wears Modi jackets (maybe to please the BJP) and was ticked off by the Supreme Court for being inappropriately dressed in an appearance before the court.
The people of Goa must realize that the State is being mismanaged and looted by babus in the absence of a strong leader. The people of Goa must realize that all the 39 chors must be sent home for not fulfilling their responsibilities as ministers and MLAs. There is no other state in the country which has been without a non-functioning chief minister for ten months. Or a chief minister who governed a state from his hospital bed in New York and Delhi or now his new private hospital built for him in Taleigao.
The people of Goa have suffered due to the mismanagement of the State and are tired of being taken for granted. Many have
darkly suggested that they gherao the Assembly and every member of the Assembly. It would not surprise me if people marched to the chief ministers residence-hospital and asked him to resign so that there can be a new government in Goa. Goans feel enough is enough and soon the time may come when people teach Ali Baba and his chalis chors a lesson. The fact that Ali Baba is sick does not absolve him of the sins of omission and commission by his Cabinet colleagues and his babus.
If Manohar Parrikar loves Goa so much, he must quit. If the alliance partners love Goa they must withdraw support and help to form another government. We did not vote for MLAs who are not interested in giving us any kind of governance. We are not paying them salaries and allowances for doing nothing. Before Goans storm the HQ and force the government to resign, they should read the writing on the wall. Even President’s Rule is better than no popular government!