It is for youth this time!

AT THE LAUNCH OF THE TMC Yuva Shakti Scheme at the ICG lawns at Dona Paula in Panaji, Goa: TMC’s second scheme was launched with fanfare under the Navya Goeank Navi Yuti alliance. Amongst those present to do the honours were MGP leader and former deputy CM of Goa Sudhin Dhavalikar, Goa’s first Catholic chief minister Churchill Alemao, three times Curtorim legislator Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, TMC leaders Kiran Kandolkar, Yatish Naik, Rajendra Kakodkar, Ethel Lobo, Avita Bandodkar, Samil

 Volvoikar, Sandeep Vazarkar, Seoula Vas, Anand Naik, AITC national spokesperson Saket Gokhale and many more.

THE plot thickens and I am not laughing anymore, my dears! All political parties in the fray for the forthcoming assembly elections are in full flow with  promises and guarantees galore to woo voters and change the status quo of the vitiated politics of this sainted country (that’s the only way to put it). You will be surprised how many Goans are interested and live in perennial green hope that ache din will come for them!

This time I found myself going to yet another one of the Trinamool Congress’ event to woo Goan voters in the forthcoming assembly elections next month! After the promise of Rs5,000 to one woman in the family by way of income support, now comes the next and second promise: A loan of Rs20 lakh for anyone in the age group of 18-45 on  4% interest. Is 45 years old definable as “youth” I found myself asking. I thought youth ended at 25 years or at max 35 (arguable).

This time around it’s not quite a freebie but conditions are attached. With the Rs20 lakh at 4% interest annually the jobless young people may consider acquiring an education or a skill which will get them a job or set them up in a small business start-up.

THE Yuva Shakti Card was released at one of the by now familiar TMC functions at the sunny lawns of the International Goa Centre at Bambolim on January 2, 2022. Half the time I go only because I want to escape to the green lawn of the IGC at any given time! It’s one of my favourite places in town Panaji. Present to witness the launch of the Yuva Shakti Card were TMC leaders Kiran Kandolkar, Ramakrishna Sudin Dhavalikar, Churchill Alemao, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, advocate Yatin Naik and other Goan political stalwarts who’ve seen the face of Goa change for the worse over 60 years and they’ve had a role to play in all this.

The TMC leaders were full of praise for the Yuva Shakti credit card which envisions 7.5 lakh youth in the state being eligible for a collateral-free credit card for drawing up to a limit of Rs20 lakh with an annual interest rate of 4 per cent. The catch is you may draw upon the loan only for higher education or skill development or to set yourself up in a business.  According to Kandolkar the scheme will see a Goa budgetary provision of Rs350 crore to Rs1,100 crore and it will be linked to financial institutions to guarantee the loans.

TMC’s second promise will empower young Goans to be self-reliant presumably.  Naturally the two schemes announced so far will be implemented depending on the TMC coming into power in the fast approaching assembly elections in Goa. Goa’s employment exchange has a registered list of over a lakh of unemployed although actual figures must be higher given the last two years of covid pandemic, lockdowns and sad stories of modest riches to near bankruptcy. Most folk have to tighten their belts on the economic front.   

Fielding a query from media persons about Goa’s finances themselves being quite sickly, Dhavalikar assured that if they come to power the TMC-MGP alliance will work towards reducing the rate of corruption currently reported to be 30%.  Once departmental corruption in the government is dealt with there will be funds enough to bail the people of Goa out of troubled times (they’re taking a leaf out of Arvind Kejriwal’s often recounted perceptions).  In the first 36 hours itself, says a TMC press release, over 15,000 youth have registered for the Yuva Shakti Card in Goa and more registrations are pouring in.

IN the meantime it says much for the TMC’s growing popularity that its first promise of the Griha Laxmi Card, offering the woman head of every Goan household a dole of Rs5,000 every month – is already registered to the tune of 2.5 lakh families! With both West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee and Delhi’s Arvind Kejriwal offering freebies and guarantees it’s anyone guess what kind of results the forthcoming assembly elections will come up with.

Are Goa’s voters suckers that they will not do a spot of hard thinking, connect all the dots, before casting their vote for the larger good of Goa? I dare say most Goans would like to see fresh new faces replaced the old venal ones of a corrupted polity!

What is interesting is that the TMC with its own high-powered marketing agency in the IPAC team of noted political strategist Prashan Kishor, is stirring up the conscience of sleeping Goans from all sections of society. It is almost as if the fat is in the fire now and it is sizzling away… merrily? I notice that the party continues to attract women, making it a party with a sizeable number of women who have defected, mostly from the Congress!

Take the most recent defection by Congress spokesperson Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik.  She confessed during her induction to the TMC that the Congress is directionless. She wanted to do many things for the people of Sanguem, her home constituency, but she was unable to do so although she has been constantly raising her voice against government failures. Before joining the Congress she was vice-president with the Shiv Sena in Goa for four years. Disillusioned anew she took the decision to join the TMC which now has quite a vocal group of women guided by the spirited and no nonsense AITC Goa In-charge Mahua Moitra.

Mahua Moitra is also an AITC Lok Sabha MP and reportedly she makes things move in the party’s aggressive electoral campaign in Goa,  participating in cycle rallies, visiting temples to make it clear to the majority of Goans that the TMC is not anti-Hindu – as portrayed falsely by the BJP.  Speaking at the TMC recent Kalash Yatra with 150 local women from Rastroli Temple to Datta Mandir in Socorro, she said,  “Just like Lord Ram did a Kalash Yatra anda Vijay Havan before fighting the evil forces and Ravana, similarly Goa TMC is performing the Kalash Yatra to take on the BJP!”

Hey Ram, everything is about taking on the BJP in politics today as if the BJP is a multi-headed monster Ravana! Whether it is or not I’ll leave you to make up your mind, my dears. But this is to say the Mamata-didi’s Goa TMC has succeeded in making enough noise to rattle the BJP government. To mention one success it has succeeded in getting the Siddhi Naik murder a murder case. This was after a group of feisty TMC women leaders Kavita Kandolkar, Avita Bandodkar, Pratibha Borkar, Priya Rathod, advocate Seoula Vas and others staged a gherao at the Calangute police station and submitted a memorandum seeking justice for the sad Siddhi Naik sexual exploitation case. The case has shocked both the now polarized Hindu and Christian Goa. The young woman’s bruised half-clad dead body was found dumped one morning on Calangute beach. 

 INTERESTINGLY,  the young woman’s father Sandeep Naik has joined the Goa TMC in the hope of re-opening the case and seeing the culprits who killed his daughter  arrested and punished. Clearly, the government of Goa knows the truth about this killing for it sought to wrap up the case as quickly as it could with the compliance of the police. This case has shaken up a large cross-section of Goan society which now perceives the BJP government as a protector of defectors and criminals.

I’d like to add here that the TMC band of women are so clued and cued up that it might be interesting to explore a green women’s party for Goa! Perhaps what male politicians have not been able to achieve so far, women politicians may achieve in the larger interests of restoring Goa’s famed peace and harmony which has been going for a toss routinely of late.

IF the next in line TMC promise woos senior citizens with a good Samaritan offer – it will be a total wrap for the party. It will go a long way in winning it goodwill in Goa and the country over, as a better model of socially just governance. Compared to the present false dawns being painted daily by the Modi Raj governments! Current perception is that Mamata Banarjee is more or less a ditto carbon copy of Narendra Modi in personality. Excuse me, I don’t think so, she can never be! Okay, maybe she is corruptible, but never communal.

I don’t think it’s in the history of Bengalis to be communal and it is communalism we have to come to  terms with in our forthcoming elections – if we can deal with communalism it will be easier to deal with corruption. Given the sunlight, salt and time. Who wants a bloody tit for tat revenge history anew? Mutinies and genocides? I really don’t want to witness the India of my dreams turning into a ruthless Bharatdesh. We need another Abraham Lincoln in this country!

On that note, it’s avjo, poitaverem, selamat datang, au revoir, arrivedecci and vachun yetta here for now.

–Mme Butterfly

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