Governor Pillai takes oath at Raj Bhavan: A quick solemn moment for incoming Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai, he took oath as 19th governor of Goa in the presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his Cabinet members, dignitaries, the new governor’s family and invitees. Amongst those present were Union Minister for State for Tourism Shripad Naik, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat, Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, former chief minister Luizinho Faleiro, Mapusa MLA Joshua d’Souza and others.
WHAT else can one do but write a sort of gossip column if one is going to the Raj Bhavan of Goa! It’s always a bit like walking into British Raj or Portuguese Goa times, except that in our modern mod con times it has become more like an Indian Raj times! With many ceremonial rites of a bygone era struggling to stay alive. Some say they should have died away a long time ago after the British left. Anyway, Goa’s new governor PS Sreedharan Pillai, my dears, from first impressions is quite a political as literary gentleman. Or so the grape vine tells me.
After a long gap since former governor Mridula Sinha departed, as did Satya Pal Malik very soon after, and in between Maharashtra’s governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was Goa’s governor in brief… Goa has finally got a governor all its own and he is a governor from the south. Going by the swearing in ceremony which took place on a gloriously rainy morning on Thursday, July 15, 2021, it looks like Goa will be exposed to a southern cultural ambience at the Raj Bhavan with the new Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai in residence.
At least a dozen invitees were attired in pristine white lungi or dhoti if you want to call it that. I’m told lungi originates from Kerala and not from Tamilnadu from where hails the dhoti! The governor’s OCD Vijayan to whom I got talking to politely told me in Kerala it’s neither lungi nor dhoti – it’s mundu and traditionally white, worn on official occasions, “Lungi is coloured and worn at home only!” Thank-you, Vijayan! What does it matter, it’s just a matter of how you wear a long piece of cloth – in simple style or complicated Benarasi style. But the narrative is after the quick swearing in there was quite a flutter with an openness about the social do which was naturally allowed to happen and one found oneself face to face with many of Goa’s Cabinet MLAs – most all were there including Opposition leader Digambar Kamat (also former chief minister), quite a few former chief ministers were around for I said hello to Luizinho Faleiro too, but couldn’t find Pratapsingh Raoji Rane.
Chatted with Alina Saldanha who is always very graciously forthcoming, she laughed when I told her because of the serious covid-19 protocol in place and everyone masking themselves – it was a little confusing sometimes to recognize who is who. She agreed that the mask is just a trivial diaper for the mouth and nose and what really saves us all is the strength of our immune system and towards this she religiously takes vitamin D, Becosule and also Celine which is the non-sweet vitamin C goli.
Somebody else who is always generously forthcoming with media people is new Minister of State for Tourism & Ports, Shipping, Waterways is Shripad Naik (formerly best known as AYUSH minister, new AYUSH minister is Sarbananda Sonowal). I asked and he confirmed that he would be for sure as minister of tourism be promoting Goa as an AYUSH destination, for healthcare must come first in our covid times which are not yet over.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was busy introducing his Cabinet colleagues to Governor Pillai and I got a rather sweet smile from First Lady Rita who had sat down for a cuppa tea, her family enjoying their refreshments near by. I said hello to Arjun and Arya, the new governor’s son and daughter and little ones, almost the entire family had come down for the swearing in ceremony. What’s your dad like? I asked Arya, and she smiled, Oh, he’s very cool! Apart from the fact that he is a practicing advocate and has never given up his vocation despite the political career alongside.
There was an sort of exhaustive breakfast-cum-brunch laid out for guests and I decided to take a look at it, it was laid out by Panaji Taj Vivanta’s executive Chef Jose Thomas & team…he told me to try the fish nuggets with tartar sauce, what fish? I asked. What do you know, these fish nuggets were not of the usual Vietnamese preserved salty basa fish but according to Chef Thomas “Nile perch imported from Egypt” if you please. Well! Lots of goodies for everybody vegetarian and non-vegetarian along with kachori with sonth-ki-chutney, paneer tikka with mint chutney, chicken cafreal tikka… I wanted to but forgot to check out the gazar-ka-halva along with little pastries for sweet somethings. Also cutie pie white and brown sandwiches.
RAJ BHAVAN FOUNTAINS
On my way out I was enchanted by the fountains which were spouting water in full melody to compete with the falling rain all around! The Raj Bhavan is an enchanted garden of paradise for sure and I never give up an excuse to visit it whenever I can. Of course, Raj Bhavans the country over are really white elephants and I fear one of these days Prime Minister Modi may take it into his head to sell them all off by way of public enterprise! Why not? It could augment the country’s perennially bankrupt public exchequer. There’s money for everything except for improving the quality of life of the common people of India!
In any case many of our Raj Bhavans strewn across the country are handsome destination places, as also museums of fine objet d’art vis-à-vis heritage architecture, furniture, flooring, objet d’art, photographs, etcetera. The public and tourists would be happy to wander through some of our Raj Bhavans and spend a weekend there!
Well, all this is by way of saying “Vannakkam” to our new Governor Pillai, the 19th Governor of Goa. He has served as governor of Mizoram and yes, he was very much a BJP president of Kerala several times. Hails from Kozhikode (formerly Calicut, famous for its halva and spices) in Kerala. Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Dipankar Datta administered oath of office to him. Can’t help thinking my dears, he’s the ideal governor for Goa seeing how Assembly elections are due in Goa some time February 2022!
It’s avjo, poiteverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.
— Mme Butterfly
A POET GOVERNOR COMES TO GOA!
By Our Special Correspondent
GOA’S new governor PS Sreedharan Pillai is perhaps the first to call for a special press meet to get to know media people in Goa! Not that he said very much at the media tea-party later in the evening after he was sworn in as governor of Goa the same day in the morning on July 15, 2021.
But he humbly said as governor he was not required to engage in politics, but what a governor can do to be of service to the nation is to build up social solidarity. It is his sincere wish to help more growth and development in Goa for it is a state of India, which he understands already enjoys the highest per capita income in the country. Asked about opening up Goa to tourism so soon, seeing how covid-19 is still of concern with so many countries in the world in a state of lockdown, he commented that the government plans to open up tourism again with all protocols in place and “we shall hope for the best!”
After all Goa’s economy is largely dependent on tourism and he is already familiar with three tourism states including Mizoram where he was governor before coming to Goa, there is also his home state of Kerala and now he is in Goa. About such contentious issues as mining and Karnataka taking away Mhadei waters to affect the Mandovi river in Goa, Governor Pillai said he would study the matter before seeing what he could do to resolve the problems.
Later when asked about being a man of letters, he smiled, “I write in Malayalam and have seven to nine collections of poetry and other writing.” So he a poet governor of Goa? He laughed, if you want to put it that way.
As a matter of fact Governor Pillai is a man of many skills and successes and one learns he has is the author of 125 books in Malayalam (incidentally a language which comes from the original Tamil which some say is even older than Hebrew in the world!). While in Mizoram his first book of poems in English titled “Oh Mizoram” was released by none other than Vice-President of India M Venkaiah Naidu. If one may comment here poetry and politics is not a rare combination. Sultan Sulayman of the Turkish Ottoman Empire was a poet politician as was India’s former much loved prime minister of India, Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Goa’s new governor has earned a reputation for having a gentle touch with minority communities and media people think perhaps that’s why he has been assigned to be governor in Goa. In his brief he invited the media to feel free to interact with him whenever they wished, “I seek friendship with you and I am here for you.” Tired of his mask he removed it for a while with a disarming, “I hope you all don’t mind this!” However, he was soon advised to put on his mask again by his personal staff.
Governor Pillai was at ease and happy to socialize with various media people who presented themselves before him during the tea party of treats (sumptuous boondi ladoo!) laid out for everyone to help themselves. It was definitely a sort of maan-ki-baat charcha over tea with the Goa’s new Governor Sreedharan Pillai.
It is left to be seen how he and his family survive life in a colonial time Raj Bhavan. In this correspondent’s view increasingly visits to the Raj Bhavan brings across the fact that it is more like a bhoot bangla museum leaking here and there. Never mind the grandeur of sea views through the falling rain and lush forested land. Many trees have given up the ghost and lie around in a fell state courtesy recent cyclone Tauktae’s visit. This comment is not to detract from the fact that Goa’s architecturally exquisite Raj Bhavan is both a heritage property and a delight for the senses… but only for a few days!