SCAMS: The Goa Legislative Assembly has to be liberated from MLAs who want to be bribed for granting government jobs. Reportedly and allegedly the guilty are ministers Deepak Pausakar, Vishwajit Rane and others in the cabinet of Ali Baba & 40 chor
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
AND a few stray thoughts and a few stray observations for yet another Saturday following the week when Goa celebrated its 60th anniversary of Liberation from Portuguese rule. And a few stray thoughts and observations for a Saturday following the week when besides the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka, also joined the Trinamool Congress. And a few stray thoughts for a Saturday following the week when churches were attacked and bibles desecrated in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka. And a few stray thoughts when grave allegations were made against PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane of accepting huge amounts of money for government jobs. And a few observations when it was Babush Monserrate who inaugurated the still-to-be-completed reportedly Rs10 crore samadhi for the late Manohar Parrikar at Miramar beach in Panaji.
GOA LIBERATION ANNIVERSARY
AND a few stray thoughts and a few stray observations for yet another Saturday following the week when Goa celebrated the 60th anniversary of its Liberation. To call the freeing of Goa from Portuguese colonial rule, liberation is an overstatement because the Portuguese intelligence forces hardly put up any resistance.
Ironically, the then Governor of Portugal Vassalo-e-Silva defied Antonio de Oliveira Salazar’s orders and surrendered to the Indian army headed by Brigadier K S Dhillon, Commandant of the 63 Parachute Regiment on December 19, 1961 at 8.30 pm in Vasco Da Gama.
Salazar had directed the Governor Silva to destroy as much of Goa as he could. Not surprisingly, when Vassalo-e-Silva returned to Portugal, he was arrested and humiliated. In sharp contrast, Agente Casmirio Monteiro who tortured Goans was rewarded with the post of head of the secret police. There were not many casualties during the Liberation movement which legally is still considered a conquest in the eyes of international law.
India secured freedom from the British through an amicable settlement with the then British Prime Minister Clement Attlee. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, along with Abdul Nassar of Egypt, started the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). This implied that the non-aligned countries would remain neutral between the Western Block led by the United States and the Eastern Block led by the Soviet Union. Among the basic principles of the NAM was that no member will take forcible possession of any other country or possession of some other country. In the case of Pondicherry or Puducherry now the Nehru government managed to reach an amicable settlement with the government of France. Nehru presumed that he would be willing to reach a similar settlement with the Portuguese dictator Salazar on Goa, Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli. But Salazar was adamant and refused to reach an amicable settlement.
Nehru was under tremendous pressure to forcibly liberate Goa and other Portuguese possessions in India. There were repeated demands in Parliament for the defense forces to liberate Goa. But Nehru was more concerned about the opinion of the international community and his pledge not to resort to violence. Though the Portuguese colonial regime imprisoned several Goan freedom fighters and even deported them to Portugal and other Portuguese colonies, Nehru would not budge. In fact, some of the political prisoners who were deported to Portugal were not liberated even after the Indian army liberated Goa. What tilted the balance was the arrival of Ram Manohar Lohia in 1946 and the intensification of the liberation struggle. The majority of the people who took part in the liberation struggle were from the Socialist Party. Thousands of Indians from Pune marched from Londa, the last Indian territory adjoining Goa to the border. They defied the Portuguese army and tried to enter Goa. The peaceful unarmed satyagrahi were brutally shot down by the Portuguese armed forces.
This increased the pressure on Jawaharlal Nehru to use the defense forces to liberate Goa. The most insistent was the then defence minister of India, V K Krishna Menon. Nehru could not resist the pressure and using the excuse of attacks on Indian fishing craft by Portuguese soldiers stationed in Anjediva island, the green signal was given for the defense forces to move into Goa.
It was not easy as the Portuguese administration had blown up many bridges and mined up the roads. The Indian soldiers who marched swiftly had to swim across the Mandovi river and use a Bailey bridge to reach Panjim, the capital of Portuguese Goa.
Goa was finally liberated on December 19, 1961. The international reaction was very hostile with John F Kennedy commenting on “how the man Nehru who kept preaching peace had resorted to violence himself.” Salazar refused to accept the fact that Goa, Daman and Diu, had become a part of India and sought to sabotage it by offering Portuguese passports and visas to anyone who was born in Goa before December 19, 1961. Even Diu and Nagar Haveli were liberated by the Azad Gomantak way back in 1956 without the help of the army, but they were not integrated into India till 1961.
AND a few stray thoughts on Benaulim MLA Churchill Alemao and his daughter Valanka joining the Trinamool Congress at a huge public meeting in Benaulim in the presence of Mamta Banerjee. Churchill Alemao claimed that like the two MGP MLAs – Babu Azgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar who had merged with the BJP earlier, the lone NCP Benaulim MLA can merge with the TMC. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is furious and has not accepted the merger of Churchill Alemao with the TMC.
The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Rajesh Patnekar is facing a major dilemma. If he accepts the claim of Churchill Alemao that the legislative wing of the NCP of which he is the only MLA had merged with the TMC, he may be compelled to accept the claim of the two MGP MLAs who merged the party with the BJP. On the other hand, if he refuses to accept the merger of the NCP with the TMC, he would have to reject the merger of the MGP MLAs with the BJP. The BJP may even have to disqualify the 10 Congress MLAs and the two MGP MLAs who had joined it after the death of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
Goa NCP President Jose Philip D’Souza has sought the disqualification of Churchill Alemao. The NCP supremo Sharad Pawar is equally furious. The future of the BJP is at stake for if Churchill’s merger is rejected, it will have to disqualify the 12 Congress and MGP MLAs. BJP will have to start looking for candidates for the constituencies which will fall vacant. It would now appear that the BJP may not even have the support of Babush Monserrate on whom it is relying for the five Tiswadi seats.
HINDU CONVERSION CLAIMS
AND a few stray thoughts on the attacks on churches and desecration of bibles in Bengaluru and other parts of Karnataka. It all started in Chikmagalur with allegations that many Hindus were forcibly converted into Christians. This sparked off violence between Hindutva fanatics and the Christian community. The Church has denied that there have been any forcible conversions. In fact, in Chikmagalur itself the local officials asked to probe the allegations, admitted that there was no truth in them. The officials further revealed that the few Hindus who had converted to Christianity affirmed that they had done so of their own free will and that there was no coercion.
Not just Karnataka but several BJP-ruled states are planning to move bills banning conversion from one religion to another. The bill is primarily targeted at the minority Christian and Muslim communities. While the Modi government has been harassing the Muslim community particularly in UP and Gujarat, the attacks on the minority Catholic community is relatively new. However, in north Karnataka there have been attacks on churches and crosses by the Ram Sene headed by Pramod Muthalik. The Ram Sene was even accused of targeting call centers where young women enjoying karaoke singing evenings in the restobars in Mangalore now Mangaluru. The main provocation for targeting minority communities is the claim of Hindu fanatics that the population of minority communities is growing faster than the majority community. This is an action replay of the old Hindutva slogan of “Hum Paanch, Humara Pachhpaan” (“We are five but our children are 55!”)
Census figures totally contradict the claims of the Hindutva fanatics. Indeed, there has been a sharp drop in the rate of growth of population of both the Christian and Muslim communities in India. The rate of growth of population is linked not to religion but improvement in the standard of living. As the standard of living of the minority communities has improved with better education, the rate of their population growth has fallen sharply to an average of two children per family.
Goa has a special problem in that both the ethnic Hindu and Christian communities tend to marry late or very late or never. This is due to lack of job opportunities in Goa. Families are reluctant to let their girls go out of Goa for jobs while encouraging their sons to migrate. The reproduction rate in Goa has fallen to 1.3 % which is much lower than the replacement rate of 2%. The census authorities believe that the minimum replacement rate is 2% as at least two children are necessary to replace the parents and maintain the population. In fact, it has become a global problem with a sharp fall in population worldwide.
RS 70 CR ENGINEER SCAM
AND a few stray thoughts on the allegations against PWD Minister Deepak Pauskar demanding Rs30lakh each from engineers he recruited for the Public Works department (PWD). The most curious part is that this allegation of a Rs70 crore scam has been made by Panjim BJP MLA Babush Monserrate. The Health Minister Vishwajit Rane has also been accused of only hiring Class IV staff from Poriem and Valpoi constituencies represented by his father Pratapsingh Raoji Rane and himself. The Corporation of the City of Panjim (CCP) has also been accused of extensive breach of the recruitment rules. In fact, CCP had to revoke appointment orders after the workers and drivers who were sidelined, went to the High Court. Offering bribes for government jobs is nothing unusual in Goa. The claim is that the babu from Delhi taught Goans the art of collecting money for government jobs. The absurd part of this money for government jobs syndrome is that Goans are more than willing to pay agents of ministers and MLAs for government jobs. This is because in the absence of permanent jobs in the private sector, government jobs are the only source of security.
Moreover, salaries offered by the government which have gone up with successful pay commissions, is much higher than those offered by the private sector. For instance, in the Goa Medical College (GMC) & Hospital and the Health Services, the minimum pay scale new nurses can expect is Rs40,000 as against the Rs10,000 they get in the corporate hospitals; this is why many qualified nurses prefer to stay at home or look for opportunities abroad and particularly in the UK.
Way back in 1983, when I first came to Goa, a friend of my maid servant in Aivao village approached me to get a discount for a friend who had been offered a job at the Kala Academy. The young lady told me that the concerned agent had asked for Rs10 lakh while she could only afford Rs5 lakh. After I was beaten up in the Dayanand Narvekar incident in 1989, I was given personal security officers by the government who were armed policemen. Many of my PSOs borrowed from their Provident Fund and even from private money lenders to pay bribe money for government jobs for their siblings and friends. This is the first time I have come across one ruling BJP MLA accusing fellow ministers of collecting bribes for fixing government jobs. Otherwise, the question of paying bribe money to get jobs is routine, as it has become routinely acceptable to both the bribe-taker and the bribe-giver. Not surprisingly, Goa has the largest number of per capita government servants with over 60,000 to 70,000 government employees — which means one employee for every voter.
BABUSH AT PARRIKAR SAMADHI
AND a few stray thoughts on the inauguration of the incomplete samadhi of the late chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar. A statue of the chief minister was unveiled in a makeshift pandal at the Miramar beach Samadhi site. The statue was unveiled not by his son Utpal Parrikar as one would expect but by Panjim MLA Babush Monserrate in the presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on December 13. It is not known whether Utpal was invited for the function or he chose to stay away and boycott it. The fact remains that none of Parrikar’s close associates like Siddharth Kunkolienkar were present at the function.
There is a major confrontation between Babush Monserrate and Utpal Parrikar over the Panjim assembly ticket. To maintain the legacy of his father, Utpal Parrikar has been demanding the Panjim assembly ticket from the BJP. Goa’s de facto chief minister Satish Dhond has committed himself to giving the ticket to Babush Monserrate in the belief that only Babush can win all the five seats in Tiswadi taluka for the BJP. Unfortunately, Babush has nowhere to go as the Congress has refused to take him back and even the TMC has refused to take him. Apparently, Home Minister Amit Shah has made it clear to him that the BJP does not believe in dynasties and that he would have to be content with the Taleigao seat, with the Panjim seat going to Utpal Parrikar.