BIASED: Goa’s Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Kunal, seems to be biased as he exempted Goa Fest and selected night clubs in North Goa from the Code of Conduct
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. the Saturday following the week when Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate appears to have revived and united the mordant Congress party. For the Saturday following the week when as it happens every year over 89% pass the Higher Secondary exams. For the Saturday following the week when the Election Commission in Goa seem to be losing its credibility. For the Saturday following the week when the merger of the two MGP ministers with the BJP came up in the High Court. For the Saturday following the week when there was a new twist in the tale of the allegations against CJI Gogoi. For the Saturday following the week when Asaram Bapu’s son was sentenced to life imprisonment.
BABUSH COMES ‘HOME’
And a few stray thoughts on Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate who seems to have revived and united the Congress party.
Babush, who was expelled from the Congress party six years ago for anti-party activities has been welcomed back to the party. In fact the red carpet has been rolled out with the National Congress President Rahul Gandhi himself approving a Congress ticket for Babush to contest the Panjim Assembly by-election.
The Congress has not been able to take advantage of the several opportunities to form the government after the 2017 election. By rights the Congress should have formed the government since with 17 seats it was the largest single party. There was a commitment even before the election that the Goa Forward would support the Congress, provided Digambar Kamat was chosen as chief minister. With the three seats that the Goa Forward won and the help of three Independents the Congress could have easily formed the government.
Unfortunately, because of the power struggle between Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat, Nitin Gadkari was able to hijack the government. Luizinho Faleiro has publicly acknowledged that Congress observer Digvijay Singh did not permit him to stake his claim to form the government.
Even later, after the death of Manohar Parrikar when there was total uncertainty, the Congress could have toppled the BJP government. Their biggest chance came when the MGP broke away on the insistence of Deepak Dhavalikar to contest the Shiroda seat against Congress rebel Subhash Shirodkar.
The strength of the BJP had reached the lowest point with the death of Francis D’Souza and Manohar Parrikar. The advantage the BJP had secured by Viswajit Rane joining them along with Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, was neutralized by the death of the two BJP MLAs.
The Congress, with the help of Vijai Sardesai and Independents, could have toppled the shaky BJP government. Within the BJP Itself there was strong objection to making Pramod Sawant, one of the junior-most MLAs, the chief minister of the state, with many preferring Shripad Naik. But Parrikar had insisted that only Pramod Sawant was acceptable to him and his wish was honoured. Perhaps organising secretary of the BJP, Satish Dhond, realized that it would be much easier to control Pramod Sawant than any of the senior leaders.
Originally when Babush joined the Goa Forward party Vijai Sardesai planned that the Panjim PDA would be extended to cover Santa Cruz, Goa Velha, Merces and even the Kadamba Plateau. Unfortunately for Babush, even though Santa Cruz, St Andre and Cumbarjua were ruled by his supporters local protests meant that he could not get his demands fulfilled. We understand that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had refused to extend the area covered by the Panjim PDA.
Realising that Vijai Sardesai has little influence in the post-Parrikar era, Babush decided to contest the Panjim seat which had fallen vacant due to the death of Manohar Parrikar. Babush has always been keen on the Panjim seat and gave up the Santa Cruz and Taleigao seats to contest the Panjim seat against Sidharth Kuncalienker in the past. He lost by a narrow margin primarily because Parrikar very actively canvassed for Sidharth.
The situation now is different and without Parrikar, Sidharth has almost no chance of winning and may even struggle to retain his deposit. The entry of Subhash Velingkar means all the Saraswat votes will go to the former RSS chief.
Babush’s clout can be seen from the fact that he seems to have united all the warring Congress leaders. What Girish Chodankar could not achieve, Babush has done without making any conscious effort.
For the first time since the 2017 elections we see all senior Congress leaders, even those hostile to each other, standing shoulder to shoulder with Babush when the announcement was made that Babush had joined the Congress party. The two bitter rivals, Digambar Kamat and Luizinho Faleiro, were on either side of Babush.
When Babush went to the Mahalaxmi temple after a visit to the Mary Immaculate Church, Pratapsingh Rane accompanied him. Even Ravi Naik, who is not been active recently was present when Babush filed his nomination, declaring assets of over `20 crore.
The reason why the Congress is so exuberant over Babush joining the Congress is that he commands the support of at least five other MLAs. The Babush football team consists of Tony Fernandes from Santa Cruz, Francis Silveira from St Andre who filled the seat of Vishnu Wagh, Isadore Fernandes from Canacona, Pandurang Madkaikar from Cumbarjua and Babush’s wife Jennifer from Taleigao. Babush can also buy over the loyalty of many other MLA if he chooses to.
It should not be forgotten that to help keep the BJP government stable, he resigned his UGP seat and got himself re-elected on the BJP ticket. He also got Pandurang Madkaikar to quit BJP and Isadore to quit the government and successively got them re-elected as BJP MLAs. Such is the power of Babush which has finally united the Congress in Goa.
And a few stray thoughts on the same story of a very high percentage of passes in HSSC repeating itself.
The percentage of students passing was 89.59% which is higher than usual. As usual the girls did much better than the boys, but this time it is not Panjim which recorded the highest percentage, but Mapusa with a percentage of 95.35%. The lowest percentage was recorded by CM Pramod Sawant’s territory, Sanquelim.
What is commendable is that government schools and non-urban schools are doing better than the big name schools. The list of schools which secured 100% do not include People’s High School and Mary Immaculate High School in Panjim, or St Xavier’s in Mapusa. It also does not include the Navelim Higher Secondary and the fancy Chowgule High School in Margao. Among the schools which got 100% pass results are Teresa Higher Secondary School in Candolim, an area which is more known for dropouts.
Among schools topping the list is the Kamleshwar Shikshan Sanstha in distant Pernem. Most commendable is the fact the Sanjay HSS for slow learning also got a 100% pass. Among the big schools which made the list was the low profile Mustifund Aryaan HSS which also got 17 ranks in IIT entrance exam.
It is common for students to get 100% marks in Maths, a quantitative subject. What is surprising is that several students have got 100% in Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Psychology, Sociology and Political Science! Political parties should automatically select students with 100% in Political Science as candidates.
The fact that several students got 100% marks in non-science subjects only shows the poor quality of the HSSC board and the very generous distribution of marks. There seems to be a competition between boards in the country to inflate marks so that students can get into professional colleges. However, with the introduction of NET besides JEE, such inflation of marks does not serve any purpose. When it comes to competitive exams less than 10% of the Goan students qualify.
Forget about higher studies. When tests are held for recruitment for government jobs, very few Goan students have passed. Just last year, in the case of recruitment for accountants, it was claimed that no student got the minimum marks of 50%. The case of recruitment by the Goa Public Service Commission for mamlatdars and deputy collectors is similar.
This practice of giving high marks whether deserved or not only makes for frustration. When I’ve interviewed students for jobs in the Herald and Goan Observer I have found that many do not know basic arithmetic or English. When I did my SCC more than 40 years ago, I was first with a percentage of only 64%. That is how tough the standards were. Since those days the quality of the HSSC certificate has been devalued and demonetised.
EC in Goa a joke
And a few stray thoughts on the Election Commission (EC) in Goa losing its credibility.
The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in Goa seems to be biased. He has been making too many exceptions to the rules. While the rule before the April 23 election for the Lok Sabha election in Goa was that the daru would not be served beyond 11 pm even in 5-star hotels, CEO Kunal did not object to the exception made for Goa Fest which is organized by leading newspapers in the State including the TOI. The argument was that the date of the event had been set even before the elections. Then again under pressure from the night club lobby like Tito’s, CEO Kunal exempted five night clubs and allowed them to serve daru till 1:30 am.
There have been complaints about the functioning of the EVM machines. There have been complaints of delay in transporting EVM machines to the government polytechnic for storage. The CCTV cameras in front of the strong room holding the EVM machines keep going on the blink. All of which would suggest a very inefficient Chief Electoral Officer who dances to the tunes of the casino and night club lobby. When hotels were barred from serving daru after 11, casinos were permitted to serve daru 24 hours a day.
MERGER OR NO MERGER
And a few stray thoughts on the merger of the two MGP MLAs Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pawaskar to the BJP.
The Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court is not quite happy with the manner in which Acting Speaker Michael Lobo so readily agreed to the merger. MGP senior leader Sudhin Dhavalikar has been insisting that the merger is illegal as they had neither resigned from the party nor given notice to the MGP.
The two MLAs who have now become ministers claim that since they form two-thirds of the MGP Legislative party their merger with the BJP was legal. The speaker argued that it is an administrative decision on which the court did not have any jurisdiction. It was also pointed out that no disqualification application had been filed. The court has given the speaker up to June 12th to give his reply to the notice served on him.
And a few stray thoughts on the seventh twist to the case filed by a lady clerk accusing Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi of sexual harassment. The clerk had alleged that the CJI Gogoi had sexually harassed her when she was posted in his home office.
Initially the Chief Justice, denying all charges, formed a bench headed by him to inquire into the matter. When it was pointed out that he could not be the judge in a matter where he was the accused, a separate panel of three Supreme Court judges was formed to probe the complaint. The panel consisted of Justice SA Bobde, Justice NV Ramana and Justice Indira Banerjee.
The lady refused to appear before the special panel pointing out that it violated the guidelines of the Vishaka judgment which specified that the majority of the committee should comprise women. She also objected to the inclusion of Justice Ramana on the grounds that he had close ties to CJI Gogoi. Justice Ramana immediately recused himself and Justice Indu Malhotra (who was already head of the Internal Complaints Committee in the Supreme Court) was appointed as the third judge on the panel.
Now in a surprising turn of events the woman who has rocked the judicial system has walked out of the panel proceedings. She has alleged that the process adopted was unfair as she was not allowed to be represented by a lawyer. She alleged that she was frightened of the judges and that she was not confident that she would get justice. She has also claimed that she has not been given copies of the video or audio recording of the proceedings. When the bench refused to let her lawyer Vrunda Grover represent her in the hearing they told her that if she did not co-operate they will decide the matter unilaterally. It appears the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is trying to do some setting.
And a few stray thoughts on the decision of the Sessions Court of Surat to sentence so-called godman Asaram Bapu’s son, Narayan Sai, to life imprisonment for rape. Both father and son have been accused of exploiting the women in their ashram.
Asaram Bapu, the father, continues to be in jail as the final verdict has not been announced in his case. The court convicted Sai under IPC section 37 (rape), 377 (unnatural offense) and 323 (assault). Three of his aides have also been sentenced to ten years imprisonment each. Two women disciples who helped Narayan Sai were also convicted. The women used to keep the victims in illegal confinement and used to thrash them on the orders of Narayan Sai.
This case is not an exception and many so-called godmen have been accused of sexual harassment and violence by their so-called disciples. The irony is that even husbands and parents of these victims are fooled by the godmen into letting their daughters/wives spend weeks in the ashram without any supervision. Blind faith has been very expensive for many daughters and wives of disciples.
There have been cases reported like Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh head of the Dera Sacha Sauda in Haryana, a self-styled godman who had a harem of over a hundred women imprisoned in his huge ashram. Fortunately, as in the case of Baba Asaram, who counts Narendra Modi among his chela, the Dera con man has also been arrested. We hope that Goan NGOs will take the initiative to expose all fake con men and godmen in Goa.