DIVIDE: The Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi parties have been merrily putting up their flags and banners down major highways in Goa to distract heavy heavy traffic. Many two and four wheeler drivers are complaining about it. Quite simply such political messaging to catch the eyes is dangerous for those driving down high speed highways roads. The two entrants on Goa’s political scene are being accused of contesting elections to divide the vote for the benefit of the BJP!
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Mamata Banerjee’s biggest victory was not against the BJP but the Communist Party of India (Marxist). For a Saturday following the week when census figures claiming that the Hindu population of Goa in 2011 was 66.8% is very misleading. For a Saturday following the week when it took Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s persuasions to persuade Congress MLA Reginaldo Lourenco not to leave the Congress. For a Saturday following the week when the shortage of consumer durables has become very acute due to shortage of semi-conductor chips. For a Saturday following the week when it was revealed that over one lakh schools in India have only one teacher for primary school from one to fourth standard.
MAMATA’S BIGGEST WIN
AND a few stray thoughts on Mamata Banerjee’s biggest victory. This was not against the BJP in 2021 but against the Communists Party of India (Marxist) in 2011. Till 1977 West Bengal was ruled by the Congress Party with its best known chief ministers being Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy and Siddhartha Shankar Ray. Siddhartha subsequently joined the Union Cabinet. In 1977 the Congress governor was toppled by the CPM under the leadership of Jyoti Basu. Jyoti Basu was even considered for the post of prime minister by one of the coalitions which followed the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. The CPM however did not permit him to accept the invitation.
Jyoti Basu was followed by Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who decided to liberalise the economy, following the example of the new Chinese President Deng Xiaoping. Amongst the industrialisation plans of Buddhadeb was the one to hand over the green paddy fields of Nandigram to the Tatas for setting up their manufacturing plant for people’s car Nano. Incidentally, the car was initially priced at only Rs1 lakh.
Mamata Banerjee who had just formed the Trinamool Congress, strongly opposed the conversion of agricultural land into industrial land. It was on this platform that the Trinamool Congress defeated the CPM in 2012 and Mamata became the Chief Minister of West Bengal for the first time.
We hope that in Goa also if Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool party comes to power it will put to a halt the three controversial environmental projects, including the expansion in the import of coal by Gautam Adani, the double tracking of South Western Railway and the expansion of National Highways.
In Mamata-didi’s early days in politics she did not have the support of Prashant Kishor and I-PAC. It must have been was very difficult for her to defeat the deeply entrenched CPM with its entrenched goons. The CPM had both money power and muscle power to confront and intimidate Mamata. We therefore believe that the biggest victory of Mamata-didi was not the 2021 Legislative Assembly elections in West Bengal but her first 2011 victory against the CPM. Mamata’s simplicity and her commitment to the farmers of West Bengal, and the poorer sections of society, enabled her to humble the mighty arrogance of the CPM.
MAMATA LOSES NANDIGRAM
DURING the 2021 assembly elections, with the help of I-PAC, Mamata-didi trounced the BJP, despite the virulent campaign by BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. However, she lost the Nandigram seat which she contested by a narrow margin.
The constituency which brought her to power as chief minister for the first time in the electoral battle with the CPM did not support her during her much bigger wars with the BJP which tried every trick in and out of the book to take control of West Bengal. The battle being between “Sai Ram”Narendra Modi and “Maha Durga Mamata-didi.” It is the matter of great satisfaction both for Mamata-didi and all secular forces in the country that in the bye-elections that were held on September 30, 2021 Mamata-Didi not only won the Bhabhanipur bye-elections by a huge margin of 58,000 plus votes, but also won the other two bye-elections which the BJP had won in the assembly election.
So it is full circle from Nandigram where the Didi-raj started to Nandigram again where despite winning the war against the BJP, she lost the battle in her pet constituency Nandigram.
MIGRANTS ADD TO HINDU COUNT
AND a few stray thoughts on the census figures which claim that the population of Hindus in Goa in 2011 was 66.8%. This is very misleading. The 2011 census figure shows the percentage of the Hindu population at 66.8%, the percentage of Catholics at 25% and that of Muslims at 8%. What the census figures do not take into account is that a substantial part of both the Hindu and Muslim population in Goa are migrants and not ethnic Goans. So much so of the 66.8% population to 25% to 30% could be the bhumiputra who have settled in Goa for more than 30 years.
The migration figures reveal that during the first decade of Liberation alone the number of migrants to Goa was 34%. This was primarily because Goa did not have skilled professionals like teachers, engineers and other skilled personnel for the development activities of the first elected government.
All the teachers for the 1,000 odd Marathi-medium schools which first chief minister of Goa, Dayanand Bandodkar, started in the very first year after Liberation had to be imported from Maharashtra. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant recently revealed that the migrant settlers population in Goa may soon overtake the native resident population of the State. Over the 2011- 2021 decade there has been a further drop in the Catholic population, which was 26% in 2011, and a substantial increase in a Muslim population.
THIRD LARGEST, UP!
THE largest number of migrants in Goa are understandably from Maharashtra and Karnataka. What is interesting is that the third largest group is from Uttar Pradesh. In more recent times a large number of people from the North-East have come to Goa to take advantage of opportunities offered by the setting up of casinos, also beauty and massage parlours.
Why all this is significant is because it has been reported that the I-PAC marketing team of Prashant Kishor relies a great deal on the population data available in Goa. I-PAC is on record that in states where the Hindu population is 55% or more the chances of defeating the BJP are low. But the I-PAC team does not realise that 66 plus Hindus in Goa are not all original Goans. The figure includes at least 30% or more of Hindu migrants.
This makes a major difference because migrant voting pattern is different from that of the native Goan people. The I-PAC team also has to take into account the fact that while the Catholic population continues to decline due to out-migration, the Muslim population in Goa has now risen to almost 20%. So much so the best chance of defeating the BJP is to ensure that the minorities, the Muslims and Christians and tribals comprising the Velips, Gaudis and Kunbis, who form 12% of the population, vote jointly against the BJP.
A large proportion of Goa’s migrant settlers whether they are Hindu or Muslim vote for the candidate who has extended maximum help to them. Which is why Babush Monserrate in Panaji, Digambar Kamat in Margao and Mauvin Godinho in Dabolim keep winning elections irrespective of which party ticket they stand on – this is called vote bank politics. The TMC must not be misled by the census data which includes the huge migrant population of the state.
RAHUL WINS OVER REGINALDO!
AND a few stray thoughts on when it took persuasion from Rahul Gandhi to persuade Reginaldo Lourenco not to leave the Congress. On the eve of Reginaldo Lourenco’s birthday on October 5, 2021 the news flashed on all the cable TV channels that he had decided to quit Congress and join Aam Aadmi party. The first attempt to stop him from leaving the Congress was made by the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President (GPCC) Girish Chodankar and former chief minister Digambar Kamat. It did not prove successful as Reginaldo appeared to be adamant to quit the Congress.
Finally, the GPCC chief approached Rahul Gandhi, who personally spoke to Reginaldo and told him that his grievances would be taken care of. It was only after Rahul Gandhi’s assurances that Reginaldo agreed to stay back. The Congress which has been reduced to a strength of four members in the Legislative Assembly from the 17 it had won in 2017 election to become the largest party.
It may be recalled that as many as 10 Congress MLAs comprising 2/3rds of the Congress Legislative party joined the BJP after it was reduced to a minority. Following the late Manohar Parrikar’s death, the three-member Goa Forward party withdrew support to the BJP. Two of the three MGP MLAs, namely Babu Manohar Ajgaonkar and Vinod Palienkar, who constituted 2/3rds of the three-member MGP legislative party also merged with the BJP. This enabled the BJP to continue in power under the chief minister ship of Pramod Sawant.
TMC PARACHUTES INTO GOA
MEANWHILE the Congress and the BJP have both launched savage attacks on the Trinamool Congress. Dinesh Gundu Rao, the Goa Desk-in-charge of the All India Congress Committee has accused both TMC and AAP of dividing votes for the benefit of the BJP. Which is absurd as the primary stated objective of the TMC is to defeat the BJP in the states in which it is now in power, including the largest state in the country Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Though the TMC claims that it wants to form the government in Goa, the widely held belief is that it is contesting the Goa Assembly elections only to enable it to gain the status of a national party to enable Mamata Banerjee to confront Narendra Modi in the 2024 Parliamentary polls.
In all the other states in which the I-PAC has successfully intervened, its clients have been powerful local leaders. In the case of Bihar, Nitish Kumar had already been the chief minister in a coalition government with the BJP. In New Delhi I-PAC helped Arvind Kejriwal to sweep the assembly election, winning the majority of seats. In newly formed Andhra Pradesh and in Tamil Nadu I-PAC supported YS Jaganmohan Reddy and MK Stalin who was the leader of leading Tamil Nadu party DMK. But in the case of Goa the I-PAC does not have a local client. It is not supporting any local party. Instead, it has parachuted the TMC from West Bengal into Goa in the hopes of forming the government in the state.
Unfortunately for I-PAC it seems to have made the wrong choice to lead its candidates into winning the elections, by choosing veteran Congressman Luizinho Faleiro as the face of the TMC in Goa. It was Luizinho Faleiro who formally inaugurated the Trinamool Congress unit in Goa. I have been assured that Luizinho will be given a Rajya Sabha seat and not projected as the chief ministerial candidate in Goa.
The TMC, based on the misleading census figures which show that Goa had a population of 66.8% Hindus, is looking for a Hindu candidate to be the chief minister. Perhaps it is not aware that Goa has had five Christian chief ministers including Churchill Alemao, Dr Proto Barbosa, Dr Wilfred D’Souza, Fransico Saldinha and Luizinho Faleiro. It is also to be admitted that none of them completed a full term in office.
Both the BJP and the TMC are perceived by the Congress as contesting the election to split the votes in favour of the BJP. Both TMC and AAP are being referred to as B teams of the BJP.
CONSUMER GOODS SHORTAGE
AND a few stray thoughts on the shortage of consumer durables. This has become very acute due to shortage of semi-conductor chips. Almost every product that we use from cars to two wheelers to washing machines, vacuum cleaners, I-phones and Sony play stations are in very short supply.
The waiting period for many electronic consumer product categories ranges from one month to six to seven months. So much so in the current festive season you may not be able to buy your Mercedes car or the latest I-phone or even a washing machine. Even if you manage to get them you will have to pay much more than the current price. The shortage of consumer durables is due to a sharp drop in production of semi-conductors. Which are an essential ingredient in the manufacture of electronic goods. China has a monopoly on the manufacture of semi-conductors. So far there was no problem as the majority of sophisticated electronic products were assembled in China. For instance even the latest IPhone 12 had been assembled in China.
There are very few semi-conductor factories elsewhere in the world excepting South Korea.The second most popular mobile brand Samsung is made in South Korea because they have more than adequate capacity to manufacture semi-conductors. In contrast even the United States, leave alone India, do not have sufficient semi-conductor manufacturing capacity.
In view of Covid-19 and the hostile relationship between the US and China, supply of semi-conductors has virtually dried up. India which manufactures and sells the Maruti brand of cars has been hit badly. Maruti has a backlog of delivery of over two lakh cars. The Tata group which has become the largest manufacturing group in the country has got clearance for setting up of a mega semi-conductor facility. Amongst the worst affected are digital appliances which cannot be manufactured without semi-conductors. This affects e-learning also.
PRIMARY TEACHER SHORTAGE
AND a few last stray thoughts on when it was revealed that over one lakh schools in India have only one teacher for the primary school from one to fourth standard. This is true of Goa also where in 500 of the 800 odd government Marathi and Konkani school, there is only one teacher for all four standards. The reason why educational standards are so low in the country is because the foundation is very week. The primary reason why as many as one lakh schools have only one teacher in the primary schools is because of the failure of the Central and State governments in recruiting the required number of teachers. The United Nations Educations Council (UNESCO) has revealed that there are 11 lakh posts of primary teachers vacant, 69% of which are in rural areas.
Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of 21,000 single teacher schools. Pupil-teacher ratios are adverse in secondary schools also. The worst affected is the special education sector which is meant for disabled children. The desperation for education in the best schools and colleges can be gauged from the fact that the cut off percentage for admission to the 12th standard and the degree courses in most of the prominent schools and colleges in Delhi is 100%.
This is partly the result of Covid-19 where all the boards from the state boards and the Kendriya Vidyalaya to the ISC schools have been far too generous in allotting marks in the 10th and 12th standard exam held online. In all the states in the country for the first time the number of passes has been 100% and those who securing over 90% constitute 70% of those who appeared for the exams. Over 20% to 30% have secured 90% to 100% marks even in subjects like history economics and commerce.