RESISTS: The DMK in Tamil Nadu and the Congress government in Kerala stopped the Modi wave from overtaking their states. (In pic, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) chief MK Stalin who orchestrated a stunningly successful Lok Sabha election campaign in Tamil Nadu, leading his alliance to victory in 37 of 38 seats; polling in Vellore, the state’s one remaining seat was postponed after the recovery of large stores of cash)
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Statehood Day should have been celebrated — the day when Goa was declared a full-fledged state instead of a Union Territory. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP may have won three of the four assembly seats in Goa, but lost the prestigious Panjim seat and the South Goa Lok Sabha seat. For a Saturday following the week when the impact of the return of Modi already started taking effect. For a Saturday following the week when the South refused to be hypnotised by the Modi magic. For a week when Sonsodo burnt uncontrollably.
And a few stray thoughts on Statehood Day which was totally ignored on May 30.
Between 1961 and 1987, Goa was a Union Territory directly administered by the Centre. Even during the Opinion Poll the choice was between remaining a Union territory or a merger with Maharashtra. Statehood was not an option. The story goes that Jack Sequeira who is lionized as the ‘Father of the Opinion Poll’ was persuaded by the then Congress strong man SK Patel not to press for Statehood. This was because the Maharashtra Lobby was very strong in the Congress at that time with YB Chavan being the Union Defence Minister. Even Indira Gandhi who ordered the Opinion Poll against the wishes of the Maratha lobby could not make them accept statehood as an alternative. Indeed, the Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party was started not by Goans, but by some senior Maharashtrian politicians. No Goan would have started or supported a party whose only objective was to merge Goa with Maharashtra.
Even before Liberation there was a demand for Goa to be merged with Maharashtra. During the Opinion Poll battle senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra campaigned very hard in Goa. They forced Bhausaheb Bandodkar whom they made the chief minister to pass a resolution in the Legislative Assembly to merge Goa with Maharashtra. At that point of time there was total prohibition (meaning ban) on drinking in Maharashtra. The then CM of Maharashtra VP Naik assured that Goa would be exempted from the prohibition law prevailing in Maharashtra.
Towards the end of the campaign for the Opinion Poll Bandodkar realized what a mistake it would be merge Goa with Maharashtra. He had started enjoying the power of being the CM and did not want to give it up. If Goa had merged with Maharashtra, Bandodkar would have been reduced to a sarpanch. A small but important section of the Hindu community, namely the Saraswat Brahmins, opposed the merger. The only industrialist who staked his entire business on retaining Goa’s identity was VM Salgaoncar. Other industrialists like VD Chowgule were quite willing to merge Goa as they were not from Goa and did not understand the strong regional sentiment build around the Konkani language.
Of course the polarization between Hindus and Catholics occurred later because, thanks to the Marathi lobby in the Rane Cabinet, only Konkani in the Devenagiri script was made the official language. This left out the Catholics who were great admirers of Konkani but had used the Romi script.
With statehood, the number of seats in the Assembly increased from 30 to 40. Statehood also marked the beginning of political instability in Goa. It began with Churchill Alemao who won the first election after statehood. He wanted the Sports Ministry, which had been held by his bitter enemy Monte Cruz, who had built the Fartoda Stadium in six months, as Goa got the honour of hosting the National Football Championship. The arrogant Pratapsingh Rane considered Churchill a goon and refused to give him the Sport Ministry.
Churchill revolted along with seven other Congress MLAs and toppled the Rane government. The deadly toppling game continued through the ‘90s. Churchill was toppled by then Congress president Dr Wilfred D’Souza. The MGP which has got about 14 seats also split in their lust for power. Both the top leaders of the MGP Ramakant Khalap and Ravi Naik abandoned the MGP and joined Churchill and the Congress government.
While Khalap fell for deputy chief ministership, Ravi sold the MGP because he got the chief minister’s kodel. The Ravi government was again toppled when he was disqualified. Dr Wilfred D’Souza finally achieved his ambition of being the CM but several years of alternating governments followed until Luizinho Faleiro was toppled by Sardinha who had the support of the BJP which had entered Goan politics only in 1996, when Parrikar won his first victory from Panjim. Sardinha was in turn toppled by Parrikar.
They were 13 governments between 1991 and 2000 when Parrikar became the CM. The toppling games continue with Babush Monserrate trying to get Vijai Sardesai’s GF and three Independents to support the Congress with the promise of making Vijai the chief minister.
And a few stray thoughts on the BJP winning three of the four by-elections to the Assembly but losing the prestigious Panjim seat to Babush Monserrate. The BJP also lost the South Goa Parliamentary seat.
BJP workers still believe that the party high command made the wrong choice in choosing Sidharth Kuncalienker as the candidate for Panjim. Even Subhash Velingkar, the former RSS chief, believes that many of those who admired Parrikar would have transferred their votes to his son Utpal who seems to be keen to succeed his father.
The other moral of the election was that defection pays. Both the defectors from the Congress, Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar, defeated their rivals. The victory of Subhash was even more impressive as he defeated Deepak Dhavalikar, who is president of the MGP and patron of the Sanatan Sanstha. Incidentally, some lawyers appearing for Sanatan Sanstha were reportedly arrested by the Karnataka police for asking some of the accused to destroy their guns. This is part of the charge sheet in the Narayan Dabholkar murder.
Babush has not given up hopes of toppling the BJP government which is now the single largest party and together with allies has 23 seats in the 40 member Goa assembly. In contrast, even after the victory of Babush the Congress has only 15 seats. However, Babush is a very close friend of Vijai Sardesai. In fact, Vijai Sardesai appointed Babush Vice-President of Goa Forward and tried to make him the chairperson of the extended PDA which would include Santa Cruz, Agacaim, Merces and most importantly the Kadamba Plateau. However, in the face of opposition by local people, Babush had to be satisfied with the post of chairman of Panjim and Taleigao PDA. Babush has been pointing out to Vijai that the BJP could marginalise him as they did to the MGP. It may be recalled that when Dhavalikar could not prevent his brother from contesting against Subhash, the BJP persuaded the two other MGP members to merge with the BJP. In the process Dhavalikar also lost the post of deputy CM and the PWD department.
If Babush manages to get three MLAs of the Goa Forward, the three Independents, and Churchill Alemao, the Congress will have 22 seats and can stake the claim to form the government. The big obstacle is how the governor will react. Even Vijai may be reluctant to switch over considering the huge margin of the victory which the BJP has won at the Centre.
IMPACT OF BJP WIN
And a few stray thoughts on the impact of opposing the BJP after its massive victory in the Parliamentary elections.
Nobody expected the BJP to improve on its previous performance where it got 290 seats. This time around the BJP has 320 seats on its own and does not require its alliance partners to form the government. The BJP has even broken the hold of Mamta didi in West Bengal. In states like Rajasthan and MP which had won the Assembly seats recently, the BJP swept the Parliamentary elections. The bonus for the BJP to compensate for lower seats in UP was the seats they picked up in West Bengal and Karnataka.
The large number of seats they got in Karnataka is a major surprise as the state is ruled by the Congress. The only states which have resisted the BJP tsunami are Tamil Nadu, where the DMK got the majority of the seats, and Kerala. The BJP seems to have succeeded in projecting itself as the protector of Hindus. Since Hindus consist of 80% of the country’s population the BJP strategy of stressing that Hindus should have higher benefits than Muslims or other minorities seems to have convinced at least the youth from the Hindu community. The victory of terror-accused Pragya Singh Thakur in Bhopal and defeat of Rahul Gandhi from Amethi re-enforced the perception that the BJP has at least partly transformed the idea of India from a secular state to a Hindu state like Nepal.
The consequences of the Hindutva ideology and Modi’s huge-margin victory are frightening. Reportedly a doctor from a minority community working in Pune was forced to chant Sri Ram by some BJP goons. Similarly a foreign national from Latvia was stabbed because he refused to say Ram Ram. This are not stray incidents and the fundamentalist groups have gathered courage if not encouragement from the victory of Pragya who is the main accused in the Hindu terror case. We had always thoughts that Hindutuva fundamentalism would not raise its ugly face in Goa. Perhaps it would never had risen if Parrikar had survived.
Goa is now controlled not by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant but the RSS pracharak who is the organizing secretary, Satish Dhond. The creeping entry of Hindutva fundamentalism is dramatised by the unveiling of a portrait of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Sawarkar, in the Cabinet complex in Porvorim. Veer Sawarkar was the founder of the Hindu Mahasabha and allegedly the guru of Nathuram Godse who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. In fact, the then Home Minister Sardar Patel, in whose memory the BJP has built a huge statue, had banned the RSS for a few years.
In the run up to the elections Pragya called Godse a patriot. There are places in the country where temples have come up for the worship of Godse, the killer of Mahatama Gandhi. Will Goans be allowed to continue to eat beef? Will Muslims remain safe in Goa? Will Pramod Muthalik be permit to set up a unit in Goa and force Goan girls to wear only sarees instead of crop tops and jeans? We are serious because in many BJP-ruled states girls have to dress modesty under threat of attack by the Ram Sene. Many BJP senior leaders have been claiming that women get raped because they provoke men by dressing indecently.
SOUTH STANDING STRONG
And a few stray thoughts on how the South seems to have escaped the Modi earthquake. South of the Vindiyas the Modi magic does not seems to work. If appeal to nationalism was the main secret of the success of Modi in the north than why did it not work in the South? Are the South less nationalistic and patriotic than the North? To understand Modi’s lack of success in the South, we need to understand that there are major differences not only between the North and South but various States in the country.
It is not widely known that UP was called United Provinces by the British because it was the federation of many kingdoms. In the North the only three states which have a distinct identity are West Bengal, Orissa and Punjab. These are the three States where the BJP has never won the Assembly elections. In the south neither the Congress nor the BJP have been able to fight the regional parties. In the undivided AP which has now been divided into Telangana and Andhra it was the Telugu Desam Party which was always in power. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu power has alternated between the DMK and the AIDMK. The former was led by film script writer M Karunanidhi, while the latter was headed by Jayalalithaa. Karunanidhi’s son Stalin led an alliance that won 37 of the 38 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu. Similarly VSR Reddy who was connected with the Congress did a clean sweep in Telangana.
The food habits of the people in South India are different from those in the North. The South has rice-eating, idli-dosa eaters as against tandoori paratha fans of the North. Citizens of the south, including ministers, wear white lungis and not shirt-pant. The south traces its origin to the Dravidians while the north claim it is Aryan.
When Hindi was sought to be made the official language of India there was strong resistance from the south. I recall even leading morchas in Bangalore against the imposition of Hindi. The southern states have a strong sense of their own individual identity.
One reason why AAP has never done well in the south is because of the topi which makes them seem like north Indians. Many senior BJP leaders, like Guru Swami, come from the South. But they are proud of their own culture and believe they are superior to the people in the north. Even Tollywood is very different from Bollywood. Those who object to Modi can always take refuge in TN which will never become a victim of Hindutva and BJP fundamentalism.
And a last stray thought on the Sonsodo garbage dump fire.
The fire, which has been ranging for a week now, is because of the irresponsibility of the Fomento group headed by Auduth Timblo. The Timblos, who are originally from Margao, had boasted that they would ensure that the waste management would be taken care of by them. The Margao Municipality has paid them huge amounts of money. The Timblos who are mine owners even made money by selling compost to farmers.
However, although they bought state of the art machines, they never segregated the dry waste from the wet waste. The dump of garbage has never been removed and the waste treatment plant is over loaded. It was not meant to treat the garbage of the whole of south Goa.
Wet garbage releases a gas called methane which is what is preventing efforts to put out the fire. And ever since the death of Sridhar Kamat, who was managing the Sonsodo plant, it has been abandoned both by the MMC and the Timblos. The only hope is that so-called deputy CM Vijai Sardesai who stays close to the Sansodo dump will take some action.