Women MLAs of Goa…. (l-r) Divya Rane, MLA of Poriem; Delilah Lobo, MLA of Siolim; and Jennifer Monserrate, MLA of Taleigao. Will anyone of them ever make it as chief minister of Goa?
By Dr Olav Albuquerque
THE Women’s Reservation Bill, 2023 passed after the Constitution was amended for the 128th time will definitely have an impact on Goa and Goans, because we have just three women MLAs in our legislative assembly at present. This is the very first bill to be passed unanimously with the Opposition voting in favor of it. The 128th amendment of the Constitution, carried out to provide greater representation to women ironically, may have invaded Article 15 which declares the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the law.
But this new law called the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam which guarantees 33 % reservation for women in the Lok Sabha and the 29 State assemblies including Goa, will not come into force until the delimitation exercise for all the Parliamentary and State legislatures is completed, which is based on the increasing population in all these constituencies.
THIS is precisely why the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi demanded immediate implementation of the 33 % reservation for women, knowing well this is an impossible task and cannot come into force before the general elections of 2024 , which will be used by the BJP to state they passed the law for women’s empowerment before the Congress.
Bharat which was earlier known as India cannot discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any other ground whatsoever; colleges like St Xavier’s College in Mapusa have a sizable number of women professors who are Hindus.
Despite having a literacy rate higher than the national average, Goa has been electing only one or two women to the legislative assembly. And those elected come from hard-core political families which proves they are extraordinarily patient provided they get their own way in the end, which is to outshine their husbands and fathers-in-law. The last time the Goa legislative assembly had four women MLAs was in 1994.
Last year, Jennifer Monserrate (Taleigao) retained her seat while newcomers Divya Rane (Poriem) and Delilah Lobo (Siolim) were new entrants to the legislative assembly. Their husbands also won the assembly elections with the wives.
ATANASIO Monserrate is the Panaji MLA, who is the husband of Jennifer and who is a three-time MLA and minister. Jennifer successfully contested on a BJP ticket for the first time garnering a margin of 2,041 votes against the Congress candidate. Her earlier victories in 2012 and 2017 were as a Congress candidate.
Divya, wife of health minister Vishwajit Rane, contested after her father-in-law and former chief minister, Pratapsingh Rane, vacated the Poriem seat for her sake. She won on a BJP ticket, with the highest margin in the state — 13,943 against the AAP candidate.
Delilah, wife of former ports minister and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo, also won her first assembly election last year, contesting on a Congress ticket from Siolim, which fielded 13 candidates, the highest in any constituency. She won by a margin of 1,727 votes against the BJP candidate and former minister Dayanand Mandrekar.
Delilah was sarpanch of Parra for a decade. While strongly pitching for BJP candidature for his wife months ago, Lobo said she “understands grassroots politics” and didn’t need his support to win in Siolim. Michael Lobo is a church-going Catholic who rose from being a dish washer in a Panjim restaurant to being arguably the richest Opposition leader in Goa. He is worth Rs200 million and now owns hotels. His nemesis was Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte whom the BJP spokesperson, Premanand Mhambrey, exposed as having 18 companies operating from Skylark Apartments located at 18, June Road in Panjim. Mhambrey claimed Khaunte paid just Rs500 per year as taxes for these 18 companies.
STRANGELY, Khaunte joined the BJP and the allegations of owning 18 companies and allegedly twisting the hand of Premanand Mhambrey, have become a thing of the past. Whether Rohan Khaunte and Michael Lobo have forgotten their rancour against each other is not known.
The last time Goa had four women MLAs was back in 1994 when four of the 10 who contested won. Sangeeta Parab and Fatima D’Sa got elected on Congress tickets from Mandrem and Aldona, while Victoria Fernandes won in Santa Cruz as an Independent and Shashikala Kakodkar triumphed in Mayem on an MGP ticket. She was Goa’s chief minister, Dayanand Bandodkar’s daughter. She won the elections in 1972, 1980 and 1984 as well.
Goa has never had a woman chief minister after Shashikala Kakodkar. Whether the Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam will throw up Goa’s second woman chief minister who may be either Delilah Lobo, Jennifer Monserrate or Divya Rane, is a matter of wild speculation. We have to just wait and watch because all said and done, Goan women are not as corrupt as their male counterparts who jump from one political party to another for power and pelf!