MISUSE: The festivals of Ugadi (April 6) and Easter (April 21) besides Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14)will give candidates an opportunity to violate the Code of Conduct
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar remained adamant on contesting from Mandrem constituency. For a Saturday following the week when the MGP seemed to be in the process of breaking up with the BJP. For a Saturday following a week when the festivals that are coming up before the date of the poll may be misused by candidates. For a Saturday following the week when the Congress seems to have a good chance of returning to power. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) has become hyper active. For a Saturday following a week when even in the United States heavy bribes are paid for admission to prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale.
PARSEKAR ADAMANT ON MANDREM
And a few stray thoughts on Laxmikant Parsekar being adamant on contesting the Mandrem seat.
Parsekar is furious over the decision of the BJP to induce the defection of Dayanand Sopte who had defeated him in the last elections. Parsekar believes that Shripad Naik had helped get the Bhandari vote for Sopte because he was not appointed chief minister when Manohar Parrikar went to Delhi.
Parsekar, being a hardcore RSS pracharak, does not believe in the politics of defection. He protested even when Vishwajit Rane resigned from the Congress and was permitted to contest on the BJP ticket. Whereas at least in the case of Vishwajit it was a voluntary act by the Valpoi MLA, in the case of Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar they were induced to defect by BJP State President Tendulkar.
It is presumed that the defections were aimed at adding insult to injury to Parsekar. Parsekar was not the choice of Manohar Parrikar to succeed him when he was asked to take up the Defence portfolio in Delhi. Parrikar was in favour of Rajendra Arlekar being selected as chief minister. But as Parsekar was very close to the RSS they chose him despite Parrikar’s objections.
It must be acknowledge that Parrikar left a lot of problems for Parsekar to stop. The cupboard or the treasury of the state of Goa was empty following the suspension of mining. The situation had become worse because of the fall in the number of charters. Also, a number of liquor shops and wholesellers lost their livelihood when the Centre passed a law banning daru shops within 500 metres of the national highway. Goa being a small state this meant thousands of liquor outlet were affected.
Parsekar was forced to restore the VAT on petrol which Parrikar had completely abolished. This was at a time when the petrol prices were soaring towards the century mark. It may be recalled that the price of petrol crossed
80 at one stage despite Parsekar’s promise that VAT would be reduced if the price of petrol crossed60.
Parsekar has been winning the Mandrem constituency continuously and first won the seat in 2002. But the BJP will lose face if they do not give the BJP ticket for the Mandrem constituency to Sopte after he quit the Congress and joined the BJP. Other MLAs who are waiting to join will not trust the BJP. However, with Parsekar adamant, the BJP is in a jam.
Parsekar is the head master of a leading school in Mandrem and had been a teacher for over 30 years. He commands both respect and support in the Mandrem constituency. Unlike in the case of Shiroda and Mapusa, Parsekar has been a winning candidate for the BJP and therefore cannot be ignored. The swing factor is whether Subhash Velingkar, who still controls the RSS, will extend his support to Parsekar.
MGP SPLITS WITH BJP?
And a few stray thoughts on the imminent split between the BJP and the MGP. After the 2017 election the MGP had extended support to the BJP to form the government on the condition that Dhavalikar be made the deputy chief minister.
Sudin is currently very upset as he was hoping that he would be appointed at least deputy CM if not acting CM because of the pancreatic cancer that Manohar Parrikar is suffering from. Sudin had the support of the powerful Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, to whom he is closely related. But when Parrikar got to know of the move he came rushing back from the US and told both the RSS and the party high command that Sudin was not acceptable to him as chief minister.
Parrikar was in favour of transferring the leadership of the party to the speaker, Promod Sawant. Forget about giving Sudin the chief ministership, Parrikar was not even willing to part with important portfolios like Finance and Home, which were being neglected due to his illness.
Even if Sudin had agreed to join the BJP it is unlikely that while Parrikar is alive the Centre would make him chief minister. It has been speculated that the stolen Rafale papers are in the personal custody of Parrikar in Goa.
Narendra Modi did not consult Parrikar before entering into a deal with French President Hollande for 36 Rafale aircraft, through which the Reliance Anil Ambani group stood to benefit by `30,000 crores. It is even suspected that the dissenting note of senior air force officers against the direct deal between Narendra Modi and then French President Hollande was made public by Parrikar either through the Goa correspondent of The Hindu or Additional Attorney General Sushant Nadkarni.
It is now very clear that the MGP has decided to contest all three seats in the by-election expected to be held on April 23. The MGP may even decide to contest the two Lok Sabha seats from Goa. The MGP has a good chance since a lot of BJP workers who were earlier with the MGP may support candidates put forth by the lion.
Dilip Dhavalikar the president of the MGP had already publicly stated that he is contesting the Shiroda seat. Dilip, who has deep links with the Sanatan Sanstha, has decided that MGP should contest all three seats for which by-elections are being held. Indeed, to spite the BJP the MGP may even offer support to Laxmikant Parsekar in the Mandrem constituency against Dayanand Sopte. In the 2017 election Dilip Dhavalikar, who had contested from Priol, lost to the present Minister of Culture Govind Gawde.
EXPLOITING POLL SCHEDULE
And a few stray thoughts on how upcoming religious days in April may give candidates contesting elections a chance to manipulate things.
The Election Commission obviously did not take into an account the possibilities that Gudi Padwa/Ugadi which falls on April 6th and Easter which falls on the 21st will be exploited by the candidates.
The least one expects is full page ads, even on front pages, from candidates wishing their supporters a happy Ugadi which marks the New Year for not only the people of Goa and Maharastra but the people of Karnataka also. There is also a tradition of making new purchases, of houses, cars and consumer durables on the occasion of Ugadi. If not Goans, the migrant vote banks of candidates who are missing from Karnataka, would be happy to receive lavish gifts from the candidates for Ugadi. The EC may find it difficult to call it a corrupt practice as it the beginning of New Year in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa.
Besides Ugadi, Good Friday and Easter Sunday also come just before the polling date, which is April 23. If not cars and washing machines, candidates can offer lots of Easter eggs to the voters. There is special symbolism in the elections immediately after Good Friday and Easter. Good Friday was the day when Jesus Christ was killed by the Roman emperor Tiberius, a cruel dictator who was scared of the rising popularity of Jesus Christ. Easter Sunday is the day when Jesus Christ is resurrected or reborn, symbolically at least. Many Goans, not just Catholics, will be hoping voters crucify Narendra Modi on election day and bring back the Congress to power.
And a few stray thoughts on the prospect of the Congress returning to power.
It is a good sign that Rahul Gandhi’s address to party workers attracted a huge crowd, perhaps more than Amit Shah at the Shyam Prasad Mukerjee stadium. Unlike Amit Shah, who was only concerned with ‘match fixing’, Rahul Gandhi took time to meet all the NGOs. He not only met the members of the Goencho Awaz, which is a federation of all Goan groups, but he also met the groups against turning Vasco into a dirty port. Girish Chodankar also took Rahul Gandhi to meet groups opposing Mopa and the amendments to the TCP Act.
Since the majority of Goans are against Mopa and the conversion of Goa into a concrete jungle, the Congress has a good chance of winning the two Lok Sabha seats in addition to the three Assembly seats of Mapusa, Mandrem and Shiroda. In fact, I understand the Congress has offered its ticket to Joshua, Francis D’Souza’s son, for the Mapusa seat.
Girish Chodankar has a good chance of winning the north Goa Parliamentary seat since he is the first member of the Bahujan Samaj to be given a ticket to contest Parliamentary elections. The majority of earlier MPs, including the present MPs, belong to the Bhandari Samaj.
The Congress would improve its chances of coming back to power if it gives the ticket for the South Goa seat to Advocate Cleofat Coutinho. Rahul Gandhi has demonstrated that he wants young people in top positions by making Girish Chodankar the president of the GPCC. Hopefully he will not yield to the pressure from the Digvijay types to give the ticket to Francisco Sardinha, or worse still Valanka Alemao.
The Congress could have easily captured power after the election in 2017. Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward had an understanding with Digambar Kamat that he would join the Congress if the latter was made the chief minister. Unfortunately Luizinho Faleiro insisted on becoming chief minister, which drove Vijai into the open arms of Manohar Parrikar.
Even now the Congress has a very good chance of toppling the BJP government. The strength of the Congress in the 36 member Legislative Assembly is 14 as against 10 BJP MLAs. Though the BJP got a boost when Vishwajit joined them it lost the advantage when Francis D’Souza passed away. Three more BJP MLAs — Chief Minister Parrikar himself, Pandurang Madkaikar and Carlos Almedia — are unwell and cannot attend the Assembly. If the Congress is willing to make Digambar the chief minister it can topple the Manohar Parrikar government with the help of the group of six headed by Vijai Sardesai. All that is needed is the blessing of the Congress high command. They will have the blessings of people of Goa who are sick of one year of no governance.
And a few stray thoughts on the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) becoming hyperactive.
The GCMZA ordered the demolition of a hotel in Carmona which was illegally built. The GCMZA has also ordered the demolition of many of the resorts in Morjim, including the Marbella resort — allegedly owned by a descendent of Shivaji.
The GCMZA has barred the setting up of any more shacks — even on private property — due to coastal erosion witnessed in many places. The coastal authority has withheld permission to the MPT to increase the coal handling capacity and ordered it to stop the transport of coal immediately. In fact they also objected to the cutting of mangroves for the IT complex in Chimbel. This is a first time the GCMZA has been so active. We recall that there should be hundreds if not thousands of pending complaints of violations of the CRZ act.
Parsekar admitted once that he was aware that the Madrem resorts were illegal but did not take any action because they provided jobs. Fortunately the State government cannot overturn the orders of the GCMZA as it is acting on the directives of the Supreme Court.
And a last stray thought on rampant corruption in admission to top colleges not just in India but even in the United States.
In India it is well known that to get admission in a reputed college you have to pay huge donations. This is even for colleges like St Stephen’s and Miranda House and LSR in Delhi and St Xavier’s in Bombay. Of course when it comes to professional colleges like the Manipal colleges of medicine and engineering there are management quotas which are sold for over `1 crore each.
What comes as a shock is the disclosure in the American press that huge amounts of bribes, running to 25 million dollars, have been paid for admission to top colleges like Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Apparently, as in MP, where there was the Vyapam scam where others could write entrance test papers for candidates, in the US also money changed hands for experts or even professors to answer for students who were weak. Even in the sport quota, coaches manipulated records so that the children of the bold and the beautiful and the rich and the powerful could claim admission for degrees from famous universities.
Now perhaps one knows how the Ambanis got degrees from top management colleges. Unlike Dattaraj Salgaocar who completed his course and earned his degree by working hard, Mukesh Ambani left his course mid-way because his father had a stroke while building a refinery in Patalganga. Despite this, because of the huge donations he made, Stanford gave Mukesh Ambani a doctorate.
What is interesting is that many top billionaires in the world have not even done their degree. Among this are the richest men in the world like Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, who are all college dropouts.