FOX: The kolo from Navelim has managed to retain his hold over the Congress High Command by getting himself appointed as the man who will decide to whom to give tickets in the next Legislative Assembly elections in Goa
By Rajan Narayan
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Advocate General Devidas Pangam told the High Court that by “liberal tourism, the state was referring to group activities.” For a Saturday following the week when Sonia Gandhi decided to retained Girish Chodankar as the president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court accepted the suggestion that fully vaccinated visitors don’t need to have a covid-19 negative certificate. For a Saturday following the week when civilians and ironically US soldiers themselves, became victims of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. For a Saturday following the week when the State of Goa approved the Feni Policy which will seek promotion of the unique drink of Goa which has secured geographical indication tag. For a Saturday following the week when one more foreigner was found dead in a flat in Candolim.
AND a few stray thoughts on Advocate General Devidas Pangam clarifying before the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court that group activities will not be allowed. This is what the government had meant when it permitted tourists to come but had objected to “liberal tourism.” This will unfortunately dampen the spirit of the Chathurti festival.
In fact the biggest setback to the Chathurti festival is the condition imposed that travellers from Ratnagiri and Sindudurg will have to produce covid-19 certificates for entering into Goa. So the majority the relatives of Goans who had migrated to Ratnagiri and Sindadurg will not be able to participate in the community Ganesh festival this year also.
Unlike in Mumbai, in the Konkan area the Ganesh festival or Chovoth is an exclusively family affair. When we talk about the family we are referring to the extended family which may be as large as 400 to 500 members. For instance at least 300 to 400 members of the Mamai Kamat family get together in their ancestral mother home near the Adil Shah Palace in Panaji and eat and celebrate and live together during the 10-day Ganesh Utsav.
I have personally attended Ganesh family get-togethers where Goans not only from the neighbouring states and rest of India, but from every corner of the world come together. Just as Goan Catholics residing abroad come back to Goa for Christmas, Hindus of Goan origin come back to Goa for Ganesh Chathurthi.
When the State government insists that “group activities” will not be permitted it implies that the Ganesh Festival will have to be limited to the immediate family. That first, second and third cousins, uncles, aunts, will not be able to attend their ancestral home family Ganesh festival. The very spirit of the Ganesh Festival is enshrined in group activity.
A large group of young and old people from a family go to select and pick up the Ganesh idol to take home and worship during the festival. Lord Ganesh waits outsides the gates till the pujari or family bhat performs the welcoming puja. Similarly, every day and particularly for the Satyanarayan puja held hundreds of neighbours, friends and family attend. When it is time to say goodbye to lord Ganesh on scheduled vissarjan day, again family members go in groups for the immersion of the worshipped Lord Ganesh idol in a water body or sea.
If group activities are not permitted there will be no fun during any of the days of the festival season. Just as there can be Diwali or Dusherra without the participation of extended family and friends from home and abroad.
The Bengali community in Goa will not be able to hold its Durga Puja and march in procession. As it is the many popular south Indian festivals like the Malayalam Onam and the Tamil Pongal could not be celebrated with the usual enthusiasm this year. In places where the rules were broken or bent like in Kerala where locals could not resist having a grand Onamsadya and festivity – there resulted a huge spike in covid-19 cases soon after. Kerala leads the country in having the largest number of covid-19 cases.
The Goa government must understand that group activities do not mean only dances and rave parties or gambling in casinos but also religious and cultural festival celebrations en masse.
And a few stray thoughts on why Sonia Gandhi decided to retain Girish Chodankar as president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee. This was on recommendation of the senior High Command’s Observer PC Chidambaran, former finance minister at the Centre. I understand that Girish was given a choice of either contesting the election or continuing as GPCC president. Girish wisely chose to retain the presidentship of the GPCC.
But having failed to dislodge Girish from the party post, Luizinho Faleiro has played the master card. Whenever an election is coming up the most important job is that of the chairperson of the Selection Committee of candidates. Luizinho has used his influence with Sonia Gandhi to bag the coveted post where he will have a major say on who gets tickets to contest for the party. The Congress High Command has in its usual fashion tried to keep all its senior leaders happy.
For instance, though Girish Chodankar continues as GPCC chief, Sonia has also appointed the veteran Congressman Alexio Sequeira as the working president. It would have been more logical to make Girish the working president and Alexio the president. This is because Alexio has never done any work in his life for the party whereas Girish has virtually slaved for it for the last 30 years at least.
A manifesto committee has been appointed where Elvis Gomes finds a prominent place. This is almost a guarantee that Elvis will get a ticket to contest from Cuncolim. Digambar Kamat has managed to retain his position as President of the Congress Legislative Party. All the senior leaders who can make trouble for the party like Francisco Sardinha have been given some position or the other. Sardinha has been made chairman of the Finance Committee though he never spends any money.
In recognition of the contribution of Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Laurenco, he has been appointed as the chairperson of the Campaign Committee. Even Ramakant Khalap, who was keen on displacing Girish, has been given the job of chairperson of the Manifesto Committee.
While this is a good balancing act by PC Chidambaram, it is clear that Luizinho Faleiro still maintains his close ties with Congress president, Sonia Gandhi. Even a senior leader like Chidambaram cannot marginalize Luizinho Faleiro.
COME ONLY IF VACCINATED
AND a few stray thoughts on the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court accepting the suggestion that fully vaccinated visitors don’t need to have a covid-19 negative certificate. However, this does not apply to residents of neighbouring districts like Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg, who have to produce a covid-19 certificate. This is unfair because the largest number of people who come to Goa for Chaturthi holidays are people of Goan origin settled in Ratnagiri-Sindhadurg belt of south Maharashtra. It may be pointed out that it is primarily the Konkan belt which considers Ganesh Chaturthi or Chovoth as its most important festival. For the people of Konkan Chovoth is more important than Diwali and Dussehra.
The decision of the Bombay High Court will permit a lot of tourists to flood the beaches of Goa. For them the main attraction is the prices of daru which is half the price of liquor in Karnataka and Maharashtra. Liquor shops in Goa are never closed no matter what happens. In an attempt to stop rave parties and outdoor dances the State government has killed the spirit of the most important festival of Goa, Ganesh Chaturthi.
Ironically, Maharashtra and Karnataka continue to insist on covid-19 negative certificates if you want to enter their state from the Goa side. The curfew has again been extended but is applied only selectively. Meetings organised by the BJP are exempt from the curfew.
And of course, liquor being the biggest attraction of Goa, it is considered an essential commodity and through the curfews bars and liquor shops have been permitted to stay open till 11pm. It is because of this irresponsible attitude that there are more and more cases of murder and suicide in Goa. In the recent cases of the mysterious death of foreigners it has been revealed that they were intoxicated when a tragedy occurred. The latest instance is the death of an Irish women living in a rented room in Anjuna.
AND a few stray thoughts on the collateral damage in the on-going battle between the United States and the Taliban. It was the US which created Taliban 20 years ago to prevent the Soviet Union from taking over Afghanistan. The Taliban has been trained by the Inter-Services Intelligence Wing (ISI) of Pakistan. When the Soviet retreated the US discarded the Taliban and propped up a political administration in Afghanistan. The people chosen by the ISI to rule Afghanistan were so corrupt that the first person to flee when the Taliban arrived on the outskirts of Kabul was the President of Afghanistan Ghani who fled with four helicopters and four Mercedes cars.
The US had decided that the Afghans could manage the government and deal with the Taliban. The US henceforth decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. Within a week of the withdrawal of US and National Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the Taliban took over the country in a week. It is now in control of the whole country including capital city Kabul.
There are several terrorist groups who have not forgiven the US betrayal of the Taliban. This terrorists have been launching bomb attacks at Kabul airport to prevent the evacuation of US and other citizens which include Afghani people.
Despite the Taliban claiming they have secured the airport, a rival group managed to set off explosions at Kabul airport in which several US soldiers were killed. Not surprisingly there is a lot of anger in US. So in a show of strength US President Joe Biden has been launching drone attacks on the terrorists. Except that the drones often hit the wrong targets and only Afghan civilians are killed.
The biggest mistake made by the US is to have left all its sophisticated weaponry and other state-of-the-art hardware of even fighter planes. So much so the Taliban is now the only the terror outfit in the world with such a huge arsenal of weapons. The Taliban has been gifted with the world’s largest stockpile of military air force goodies to facilitate deadly warfare on its perceived enemies.
AND a few stray thoughts on Goa finalizing its feni policy. After a long battle those who produce feni in Goa have managed to get the Geographical Indication Tag (GIT). This means that no other state in India or any other country in the world can produce or distil feni. This isn’t like the GIT which is enjoyed by Scotch whereby the whiskey made in Scotland is considered pure Scotch. Similarly, Champagne is considered a trademark monopoly of France.
Till Goa’s feni acquired its GIT it was not accepted as a liquor of any consequence in the rest of the country, let alone the world. However, with the GIT it is on par with internationally recognized traditional liqueurs like Chinese rice wine Mai Tai. In fact, it is now equal to Scotch and Champagne.
Needless to say feni will now enjoy a new status and also bring in more revenue. The natural corollary is that the government’s revenue will also go up. At the present feni contributes only 1% of the tax in daru in Goa. With the GIT recognition feni can be sold in the rest of the country and it may even be exported. The flip side is that the cost of Goan feni will now go up and this is much to the disgust of Goans
AND a final stray thoughts on the law and order situation turning a turn for the worse in Goa. We increasingly hear of gang rapes and cases of dead foreigners. It is true that in the past also there have been rapes like the notorious Scarlet Keeling case. But never in the past has Goa witnessed so many kidnappings and dacoit activity in Goa.
The only consolation is that most of the crimes are done by people from outside the State against outsiders who have settled in the state. Mercifully, most criminals are not Goans but Goans are the victims of criminals.