VENDETTA: There is no love between the BJP and Elvis Gomes. The BJP government headed by Parrikar had charged Elvis Gomes with misappropriation of funds when he was managing director of the Goa Housing Board. He was exonerated by the High Court as well as the Supreme Court
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when it was officially announced that elections to the Panjim Assembly constituency would be held on May 19, 2019. For a Saturday following the week when a vicious campaign is being carried out against Elvis Gomes, South Goa candidate of AAP. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa University continued to sink, dropping 25 points to rank 93rd in the list of top 100 universities in the country. For a Saturday following the week when the mining dependants could play a major role in the Shiroda and Mapusa constituency. For a week looking back on Modi’s relationship with the Marriott in Goa.
MAY 19 ELECTIONS
And a few stray thoughts on elections to the Panjim constituency being scheduled for May 19.
This is just two days before the entire electoral process for the Lok Sabha, the assemblies and the by-elections are expected to be completed. Hence, unlike voters in the North and South Goa Parliamentary constituencies and the by-elections in Shiroda, Mapusa and Mandrem, who will have to wait for more than a month (from April 23 to May 24, 2019), Panjim voters will have to wait for only three days to know the results.
Obviously since Panjim is a prestigious seat which the BJP might find difficult to retain, it has been decided to separate the election to the Lok Sabha and the other by-elections from the Panjim by-elections.
The vacancy was caused by the death of Manohar Parrikar who represented Panjim in the Legislative Assembly almost continuously for four terms, except for a brief period when Parrikar went to Delhi as Defence Minister, when it was represented by Sidharth Kuncalienker.
Babush Monserrate has been very quick to announce that irrespective of who supports him he will contest the Panjim seat as an Independent. As vice-president of Goa Forward he would have been expected to contest the Panjim seat on the party ticket. But Babush has decided that he will contest as an Independent after resigning from Goa Forward. This is because in his own words he does not want the BJP to victimize Vijai Sardesai as they did Sudin Dhavalikar.
It will be recalled that in a midnight raid, two of the three members of the MGP Legislative party, Babu Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pawaskar, comprising 2/3rd of the three member party, resigned and merged with the BJP. Promptly Pramod Sawant, the new CM, dropped Sudin Dhavalikar from the Cabinet for not being able to force his brother, MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar, to withdraw from the Shiroda seat.
Despite a written assurance from Sudin Dhavalikar to Nitin Gadkari that the MGP will not contest either the Lok Sabha seats or the Assembly seats for which by-election are being held, Deepak Dhavalikar insisted on opposing BJP candidate Subhash Shirodkar, one of the two Congress candidates who defected to the BJP after the death of Manohar Parrikar.
Though Laxmikant Parsekar is not contesting the Mandrem seat, he has refused to campaign for the BJP. Ironically, the MGP in Mapusa is supporting a Congress candidate who defected because he was not given the BJP ticket. The BJP stuck to his promise and gave the Mapusa seat to Joshua D’Souza, son of former Mapusa MLA, the late Francis D’Souza.
The BJP seems to be determined to persuade Utpal Parrikar, eldest son of Manohar Parrikar, to continue his father’s legacy. Indeed on Tuesday when the elections of Panjim were announced, Utpal met the organising secretary of the BJP, Satish Dhond. However, Utpal has not yet formally announced that he is contesting his late father’s seat. Most upset of course is Sidharth Kuncalienker whose wife Sonia of Prudent Media is bombarding Facebook with protests about dynastic rule in the BJP.
In a master stroke GPCC Chief Girish Chodankar has said that the Congress would offer Babush its ticket. This would be a major coup as the Congress will get five seats extra if Babush wins from Panjim and supports them. There are five MLAs — Tony Fernandes from Santa Cruz, Francis Silveira from St Andre, Isadore Fernandes from Canacona, Pandurang Madkaikar from Cumbarjua and wife Jennifer from Taleigao who are personally loyal to Babush.
The Panjim constituency includes some areas in Taleigao. Since Babush is expected to sweep the Taleigao Panchayat elections he will be able to judge whether he will do well in the Taleigao segment of the Panjim Assembly. The community of voters which may cause the biggest problem to Babush are the Catholics who have traditionally supported Manohar Parrikar. Though in the past he has had the support of the Taleigao priest, Father Conceição, I do not know if the Catholics will switch their loyalty to Babush. We will know the final candidates for the Panjim elections only on May 2, although the nomination process begins on April 22.
SLANDER ABOUT ELVIS
And a few stray thoughts on the vicious campaign being carried out against Goa state president of AAP and candidate for the South Goa Parliamentary seat Elvis Gomes. Elvis is being targeted and even being accused of being a BJP chamcha for the last 25 years. Just because he was a government servant.
What such critics do not understand is that as a government servant and an officer of the Goa Civil Cadre he has to work for the Government in power, irrespective of whether he agrees with their policies. Moreover the BJP was in power for only 10 of the 25 years that Elvis Gomes has worked as an officer for the government.
Interestingly the BJP had filed a case against Elvis Gomes for some alleged golmaal in the Goa Housing Co-operative Federation which was later dismissed.
Congress supporters are very worried that Catholics, who form a big majority in Salcete, may vote for Elvis. This will cause a split in the Congress vote which may have gone to Sardinha. Indeed, if all the Catholics in South Goa, along with liberal-minded Hindus, vote for Elvis, he has a good chance of winning the election.
Actually, the interest of AAP is not necessarily to win the South Goa Parliamentary seat, but to get at least 6% of the votes polled. This is because to qualify to be recognised as a national party you need to have won 6% of the total votes polled in at least three states.
AAP already has more than 6% in Delhi and Haryana. If Elvis manages to get 6% of the votes polled in south Goa the AAP will achieved its limited objective. For some reason a lot of Goans see AAP as a north Indian party since its leaders Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia are from the north. Even the topi that AAP workers wear is foreign to Goan culture. Which is why the AAP in Goa has dropped the white topi and started wearing blue caps.
In my personal view Elvis Gomes would make a much better Member of Parliament than either Narendra Sawaikar or Sardinha. Sawaikar was Manohar Parrikar’s lawyer, who sent a threatening legal notice to all officials and editors in 2000 because they exposed a favourable one-time settlement given to Parrikar’s brother-in-law.
Francis Sardinha is a playboy and womanizer who has done nothing for Goa. On the contrary it was Sardinha who toppled the Congress government and made it possible for the BJP to come to power. The Sardinha government of 1998 was supported by four BJP MLAs including Parrikar, who pulled the carpet within one year and became chief minister.
GOA UNIVERSITY SINKS further
And a few stray thoughts on why Goa University continues to sink lower in the water.
In the latest figures released by the Human Resources Development Ministry, Goa University’s position dropped by 25 points to 93rd in the list of 100 top universities. Yes, Goa University is now 7th from the bottom. Its score in terms of academic standards is just 38 out of 100 in the perception of people outside Goa. In terms of infrastructure it got only 1.63 points out of 100. The university which has only 1,549 students, less than that of many big colleges in the big cities, has a high percentage of socially and economically disadvantaged students. Of the 1,549, 1/3rd or 469, are socially disadvantaged.
Despite all its limitations, Goa university has 157 full time doctoral scholars and 123 part-time students registered for a PHD. The less said about the quality of the PHDs the better. Many of those who have ‘bought’ Goa University PHDs are senior Goa government and Central government employees, including Dr Radha Krishna, the former joint secretary to the Goa governor. The university was started in the ‘90s by Dr Gopal Singh, a Sikh historian and a favourite of Indira Gandhi. The first vice-chancellor was B Sheik Ali, a historian who was earlier VC of Mangalore University.
Ironically, except for Dr Shetye who was stolen from the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) there has not being a single Goan vice-chancellor of Goa University. This despite the fact that when it started it attracted the best talent. Not just housing, but even consumer goods like televisions were offered to ensure that the best academic minds came to the very well-designed Goa University.
Among the earliest members of the facility was Errol D’Souza, who is now the director of IIM Ahmedabad and Dr Peter Ronald D’Souza, who was the director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Shimla. Most of the notable faculty were also from outside the state except for Pratima Kamat who became the head of the History Department and wrote several books.
The Science departments have improved in the recent past because of their close collaboration with NIO. But the Humanities departments do not attract many students and the worst placed are the Language departments for want of job opportunities.
Goa University, once ranked among the first five in the top hundred universities, has now sunk to 7th from the bottom. The decline is because of lack of support from the BJP government. Last year, when the results were outsourced to some private party, there was a three month delay in announcing the results. This time it was the law students who were the victims.
The government has not been extending any support to the university — more than 50% of the faculty positions are vacant. It is very unfortunate that Goa University should have lost its reputation as Goa has produced some of the top scientists and scholars in the country like Raghunath Mashelkar, who was the chairman of the CSIR and is now scientific advisor to the PM, and Anil Kakodkar, former chairman of Atomic energy.
Goa has failed to make good use of the talent available. Interestingly, while the university is sinking, technical colleges, even in the public sector, are doing very well. Of the new NIITs, the one set up in Goa in the campus of the Goa Engineering College has got the highest rank.
And a few stray thoughts on mining dependents playing a major role in the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections and the by-elections.
There are as many as nine constituencies in North Goa which are part of the mining belt. This includes Curchorem, Sanvordem, Bicholim, Mayem and large parts of Sattari taluka which has three seats.
There may not be many people employed directly in the mining industry, but if you consider all the outsourced jobs and the villages dependent on mine owners, the numbers could increase to three lakh. There are an estimated 50,000 truck owners.
The reality in the mining industry is that Goans own the trucks which are driven by bhailes. Similarly, not just the barge owners, but those employees in shipyards making barges, and the crews of the barges have been rendered unemployed.
Worst affected are the villagers living in mining areas. During the mining boom, the industry used to provide health facilities to villagers. It used to supply them with water in tankers. The mining industry had buses for students to go to school. All this is gone now and has not been replaced by the government. The government has only compensated the truck owners and the barge owners. It has done nothing for the thousands of small businesses ranging from garages to saloons to small hotels and even jewellery shops which used to depend on business from the people employed in the mining industry.
When the Chinese boom came a lot of people got more trucks and invested more in mining machinery. Now nobody wants their trucks and there is no income to repay the loans. So much so that banks, particularly co-operative banks, have been very badly affected.
When Modi came to Goa in 2014, before the elections, he had promised that he would resume mining in Goa. When he came back to Goa on April 10, 2019, he could not give any answer on when mining will be resumed. Which is why most of the people affected by the suspension of mining are likely to vote for the Congress. The biggest beneficiary will probably be Girish Chodankar.
MARRIOTT & MODI
And a last stray thought on the close links between the Marriott hotel in Goa and Narendra Modi.
The Marriott hotel in Goa has been very lucky for Narendra Modi. The first time the meeting of the National Executive of the BJP was held there was immediately after the Godhra riots. The then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee was keen to sack Modi. To quote Vajpayee, addressing the meeting of the national executive, he accused Modi of not conforming to raj dharma, which in Hindu tradition means that all citizens are treated equally. This was an implied comment on the mass murder of Muslims in the post-Godhra riots. Modi took the flight back to Ahmadabad expecting that he would be sacked. He was saved by LK Advani whom he has repaid by taking away his seat, Gandinagar in Gujarat, and giving it to Amit Shah.
Modi started his historical journey to the PM post again at the Marriott hotel in Goa. It was at the meeting of the national executive held 2014 that the late Manohar Parrikar moved a resolution to make Modi the chief spoke person of the BJP for the 2014 election. This was virtually appointing him as the leader of the BJP Parliamentary party which was done soon after.
Narendra Modi has a very happy association with Marriott and Goa. I do not know whether Goa and Marriott reciprocate his affection, but when the history of Narendra Modi is written, the two national executive meetings held in Goa at the Marriott hotel will get great importance.