Shaina NC violates old Goa heritage zone

ILLEGAL: Senior BJP leader Shaina NC (inset) is building a massic bungalow close to the Se Cathedral, within the Old Goa heritage zone, which has evoked massive protest from all sections of society.

ILLEGAL: Senior BJP leader Shaina NC (inset) is building a massic bungalow close to the Se Cathedral, within the Old Goa heritage zone, which has evoked massive protest from all sections of society.

AND A few stray thoughts and a few observations for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the political scene in Goa had become a railway platform. For a Saturday following the week when a senior BJP leader violated the Old Goa heritage zone rules to build herself a massive bungalow. For a Saturday following the week when Goa Forward intervened in the on-going disqualification case in High Court. For a Saturday following the week when the charter season was also set to begin in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the Directorate of Education has permitted students of Classes VII and VIII to opt for online classes. For a Saturday following the week when the High Court pulled up the Transport Department for failure to compel taxi operators to install digital meters.

GOINGS AND COMINGS
AND A few stray thoughts on the political scene in Goa being converted into a railway platform in Goa. The highest traffic is from the Trinamool Congress Party. When I opened my mobile in the morning I am inevitably confronted with a message from the Trinamool Congress that some more non-entities have joined the party. Fatigue is setting in. Not only is the TMC posting the new names, the latest, joining the party but this is done in the style of “Breaking News” which is not surprising, as the press vertical as the TMC calls it, is headed by a young lady whose entire 20 years of experience has been in electronic media.
Everyone, of course, who joins the TMC, is a very prominent and important person. Such as Ulrique Rodrigues who is referred to as a prominent business man. There is no information on what business he is involved in. Perhaps he is involved in the matka business. And in keeping with digital imagery, Toufik Habib, who joined them on November 23, is an influencer. For those who are digitally challenged like me, an influencer is somebody with a blog with a large following.
The TMC is not content with telling us all the petty political leaders who have joined them. They also seem to be keen on informing us who Mamata-didi met not in Goa but in New Delhi. Mamata-didi is reported to have met Javed Akhtar and Surindra Kulkarni who was a former press advisor to Dr Manmohan Singh. She also met Pawan Varma and Ashok Tanwar, whosoever they may be.
IT IS not only the TMC which has taken to social media to report their arrivals and departures. The Congress has also formed a Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) media group. It is headed by Amarnath Panjikar who does not stay in Panjim but in Aldona. There are not many people joining the Congress party. In fact, there are more people leaving the Congress. There seems to be some kind of polarisation in the Congress party in the wake of Congressman of old Luizinho Faleiro leaving the Congress party.
All the rusted oldies like Francisco Sardinha seem to be targeting the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Girish Chodankar. The gang of three in the Congress party is Girish Chodankar, who has got his chamcha Gundu Rao appointed High Command Observer. Gundu Rao was made the Youth Congress President in Karnataka by Girish when he was entrusted the responsibility of revamping the Youth Congress throughout the country. I remember Gundu Rao because he was kind enough to chauffer me around Bangalore (Bengaluru) when I had gone on a medical visit to Bengaluru. It does not help that the person in charge of the Goa desk is P C Chidambaram, former finance minister, who is also a Hindu. To compensate, there are two Congress working presidents, namely Reginald Lourenco and Alexio Sequeira. The only person who does any work in the Congress Party is Reginald Lourenco.

TMC GRAB FOILED
AS FAR as the other parties are concerned, TMC planned to grab Vijai Sardessai and project him as their chief minister’s face but the plan flopped miserably. Vijai, who kept talking of the “Durga of Kolkatta” was persuaded by Rahul Gandhi not to merge his Goa Forward into the TMC. He has been promised an alliance with the Congress which includes deputy chief ministership for Vijai. The loss of GF’s Kiran Khandolkar will not affect Vijai. Ironically, Khandolkar claimed he had no quarrel with Vijai but he just did not like the Congress. The NCP is expected to be part of the Congress alliance along with Goa Forward.
The only NCP MLA Churchill Alemao may however defect as even Sharad Powar is not willing to give tickets to father and daughter Valanka. Indeed, the dynasty fever seems to have caught a lot of politicians in the State. Michael will not stay with the BJP if it denies a ticket to his wife Delilah, sarpanch of Parra. Delilah, incidentally, is the daughter of a police constable. Babush of course does not only want tickets for himself, but also for his wife Jennifer and son Rohit, and perhaps his dog also.
The BJP would rather give a ticket to Babush Monserrate with the assurance that he will get them all the five seats in Tiswadi, than Utpal Parrikar, the son of the late Manohar Parrikar. As far as we know the only party which is unconditionally willing to give tickets to the entire Babush parivar is the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). The latest development is that the POGO party has climbed up to the tower of the Goa Su-Raj party. There is a case pending against the POGO party for sedition as it has been demanding a separate country.
The Goa Revolutionary party led by Manoj Parab, whose origins nobody knows anything about, wants to give preference in jobs and admissions to professional colleges to persons of Goan origin. No wonder only the non-resident Goans are pouring money into the coffers of POGO party.

OLD GOA HERITAGE THREAT
AND a few stray thoughts on a senior leader of the BJP, Shaina NC, building a massive bungalow for herself within the Old Goa heritage zone which is an UNESCO site. The bungalow is close to the Viceroy’s Arch and maybe violating the CRZ rules also. Mumbaikars are familiar with Shaina NC, she is the daughter of Nana Chaudasama who used to put up banners on the building in which he used to stay on Marine Drive in Mumbai. Shaina is a leading socialite, who represents the BJP on electronic channels. She is also a close friend of the controversial Kangana Ranaut who believes India gained freedom only in 2014 when Narendra Modi became the prime minister of Bharatmata.
What I am curious about is that there was no such demonstrations against the huge palace built by Pandurang Madkaikar next to the Bom Jesus Basilica. Madkaikar’s bungalow is even larger than Babush Monserrate’s mansion in Taleigao. It is within a 100 metres of the Bom Jesus Basilica and looks like a fidalgo residence. Or perhaps Goans are being sympathetic as Pandurang Madkaikar is terminally ill following an overdose of aphrodisiac mixed with liquor. It may be recalled that Madkaikar was in the Kokilaben hospital for several months. Or perhaps Goans believe that bhitorle lok can get away with but not bhaile.
There was a massive rally to protest against the illegal construction which is close to See Cathedral which is in the parish of Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao. Significantly, no members or leaders of the Goa Revolutionary Party attended the rally. The historical ploy in Goa is to claim that a crumbling structure was rehabilitated. Shaina also claims that all that she had done was to restore an old existing structure. Excepting that the old structure was a hut and the new structure is a large building which includes a swimming pool and a jetty. The latest is that the husband of Shaina, Manish Munot, has decided to withdraw the project.

SCHOOL RE-OPENING
AND a few stray thoughts on the State government finally deciding to permit the students of Classes VII and VIII to return to their schools and campus. Earlier, much to the relief of parents, the government had announced that students from nursery to Class VIII could return to their classes. Apparently there have been second thoughts about this. Even in the case of Classes VII and VIII students, it has been left to the discretion of school managements. It has even been suggested that those students, who do not want to attend physical classes, could continue with online learning.
The implication being that there will be a hybrid system. There are several conditions that have been laid down. Every student/staffer will have their temperature checked before entering school. Masks, social distancing and sanitising will be mandatory. Where there are two doors, one will be used for entry and the other for exit. There is not much cause for concern as in the last three months, Covid cases have decreased. Although 14 % of the Covid victims have been kids, there have been no hospitalisation or deaths.
Interestingly, although there has been a sharp fall in Covid cases in Goa, there has been an explosion of Covid cases in Europe. It seems to be the turn of the highly developed western countries to bear the brunt of Covid. It is estimated that Covid deaths in Europe could exceed 2.2 million by March 2022, as the daily infection rate has doubled from late September.
Amongst the victims has been the French prime minister who tested positive. Many countries in Europe have imposed lockdowns. In the USA, Covid cases among kids has risen by 32 % in the last two weeks alone. It is the Delta variant which originated in India which seems to be creating all the problems.

AYA RAMS AND GAYA RAMS
AND a few stray thoughts on the on-going hearings of the much delayed disqualification petitions against the 10 Congress MLAs and the two MGP MLAs. It may be recalled that when Pramod Sawant became the chief minister after the sad demise of Manohar Parrikar, the Goa Forward party and the MGP withdrew support to the BJP. Babush Monsserate led a group of 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs to defect to the BJP. Earlier, three Congress MLAs – Vishwajeet Rane, Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar had quit the Congress and got re-elected as BJP MLAs.
The Congress which secured 17 seats in the 2017 elections was reduced to 5. It is now further reduced to four with Luizinho Faleiro joining the Trinamool Congress. In addition to the Congress MLAs, two MGP MLAs – Babu Azgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar merged with the BJP, leaving Sudin Dhavlikar alone. Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Rajesh Patnekar delayed the hearing for over a year. It is now only upon the directions of the Supreme Court that the High Court took up the hearing a few months ago.
In a curious twist, the Goa Forward party has now joined the hearing against the Congress defectors. The charge is that the Goa Forward party has done so to delay the hearings. As of now the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court has issued notices to all the rebel MLAs.
The next hearing has been fixed on December 4. It is crucial that the case should be decided before the next assembly elections scheduled in February 2022. Of the 27 MLAs of the BJP, 12 are defectors. If they are disqualified, the strength of the BJP will go down to 15.
Moreover, the rebel Congress and MGP MLAs upon whom the BJP is depending on victory, will not be allowed to contest elections for six years. It is in this context that Vijai Sardessai’s intervention raises the suspicion that he may return to the BJP — and even replace Pramod Sawant as chief minister.

RUSSIANS ARE COMING!
AND A few stray thoughts for a Saturday following the week when the long delayed charter flights may finally land in Goa. It is expected that the first charter from Russia may land in Goa on December 30. Apparently the charter company Rossiya Airlines has asked for nine slots and will be operating three flights a week. The Russians are expected to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Goa and giving a boost to the shacks which hitherto were dependent on domestic tourists.
Incidentally, the largest number of tourists visiting Goa in the last few seasons are Russians. Charters from the UK are also expected to pick up in December. For some strange reason, Goa also attracts charters from Kazakhstan which is amongst the poorest countries of the former Russian federation. Most of the belly dancers, models and escorts for casinos come from Kazakhstan. Historically, the charter season used to start in mid-October and conclude in May with 800-900 charters every season. There are unlikely to be any charters from Europe given the grim Covid situation in Europe.

TAXI MAFIA DEFIES HC
AND A few Stray Thoughts on the taxi mafia in the State continuing to defy the High Court and the Supreme Court. Though there are clear cut directives that digital meters ought to be fixed, not even half the tourist taxis have done so. This, despite the assurances given by Pramod Sawant that the government will pay them a subsidy. The ground reality is very simple. The tourist taxi mafia has been a law unto itself. They have charged whatever tariffs they have chosen to. Goa is the only State in the country where officially taxis are allowed to charge return fare.
The tourist taxi mafia has virtually sabotaged Goa Miles, the only app based tourist taxi service in the State. They have also prevented tourism agencies from operating their own transport including airport drops and pickups. It is the middle class who are the biggest victims. It has been my personal experience that the minimum charges to go to the GMC from Caranzalem is Rs 400. If we wish to travel from the airport to Candolim or Calangute, it could cost you more than the airfare. The tourist taxi mafia in north Goa have the patronage of Michael Lobo and in the south of Churchill Alemao.

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