SHIV JAYANTI CAUSES TENSION IN GOA!

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Shivaji Maharaj created tension at Sao Jose De Areal village in Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP continued to target Opposition parties including the Congress party. For a Saturday following the week when the villagers of Anjuna staged a peaceful protest at Starco Junction, on February 19, drawing attention to the Goa government’s failure to resolve long pending Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) issues. For a Saturday following the week when a war of words took place between Manoj Parab and Michael Lobo on February 19.
AND a few stray thoughts on how Shivaji Maharaj created tension at Sao Jose de Areal in Goa. The ongoing 394th anniversary of the coronation of King Shivaji ran into trouble in some parts of Goa. In Sao Jose de Areal there was a protest by the Christian-majority village. The tension was created by the installation of a statue of King Shivaji. On February 19, the birth anniversary celebration of the Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji took an unexpected turn in Goa’s Sao Jose de Areal village, leading to a clash between Shivaji supporters and local villagers.
The incident occurred during the unveiling of a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on private land, sparking controversy over permissions and ownership. In Maharashtra, where the Maratha king’s influence is significant, political parties organized grand processions to commemorate Chhatrapati Shivaji’s birth anniversary. In contrast, Goa, which has a largely Konkani population and fewer Marathas, had conflicts arising after a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji was built on private land in Sao Jose de Areal. Around 150 locals gathered at the site, questioning the legality of the statue’s installation on private land. Villagers claimed the panchayat had not granted permission for the statue and arguments ensued between supporters and protestors.
Protestors alleged that the land belonged to the Scheduled Tribe (ST) community and that the statue builders did not obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the landowner, Sartaj. The people stated they requested permission from the panchayat, but it was denied. Villagers claimed that the statue was created by people from outside the village, which fuelled local resentment.
As tensions arose, the police were called in to help manage the situation. Social Justice Minister Subhash Phal Desai came to unveil the statue and announced that it had been constructed on private land with proper permission. He stated that he had visited the property owner. However, the lack of an NOC increased public opposition.
During the incident angry protestors threw a stone at the minister and wounded him. Despite the incident the minister proceeded with the unveiling of the new statue. This worsened the situation. In response to the escalating conflict, the police lathi charged the crowd to disperse it. The situation remains tense as Deputy Superintendent of Police Santosh Desai stated they are investigating the origins of the Chhatrapati Shivaji statue and its instalment.
Locals denied any knowledge about the statue. They claimed that outsiders had come and installed the statue. It is possible that some Shiv Sena sevaks from Maharashtra were behind the attempt to create communal discord in Goa.
Indeed, there was a lot of controversy over the celebration of the 394th anniversary of Shivaji Maharaj’s coronation. While Shivaji Jayanti has been observed in Goa in the past this is the first time we have government support for the festival in a big way. It may be recalled that Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant have announced that Shivaji Jayanti would be celebrated in a big way in Goa. There is no historical evidence that Shivaji even came to Goa. Though there is some belief that his successor Sambaji Rao came to Goa. But many of Goa’s neighbouring areas like Sawantwadi were under the influence indirectly of Shivaji Maharaj.
Shivaji Maharaj is a major figure in Maharashtra. Shivaji was supposed to be the ideal king. He observed a strict policy of secularism. It is believed that Shivaji handed over the entire kingdom and left it at the feet of the Swami Ramdas. The saint asked him to take back his kingdom and rule it according to the principles of Rajdharma.
Shivaji Jayanti was observed throughout Goa in the form of celebration events where appropriate theatre drama was enacted. This included the Janata Raja event which was a massive production featuring elephants and horses on a huge stage. It was to remind people of the life and times of Chhatrapati Shivaji. Shivaji is not part of Goan history. The Kadamba dynasty ruled Goa before Adil Shah. The Portuguese defeated Adil Shah and Goa was under Portuguese colonial rule for over 400 years.
The state support for Shivaji is part of the unfinished agenda of “Maharashtranizing” Goa. It may be recalled that an attempt was made to give equal status to Marathi as an official language. When Konkani was made the official language of the Goa it was stipulated that Marathi will be continued to be used in any official purpose. So much so that with practical terms Marathi enjoys equal status with Konkani. The official language act was never implemented in either the letter or the script. Konkani is still not used in official communications. Principally, the language of the bureaucracy and even the Courts continues to be in English.
Attempts to impose the culture of Shivaji in Goa are unlikely to succeed. The BJP and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant must recognize that Goa has its own cultural roots and asmitai which makes it distinct from Maharashtra.

TARGETING OPPOSITION
AND a few stray thoughts on the BJP continuing to target the Opposition parties including the Congress party. The latest target of the BJP is the old Congress loyalist Kamal Nath. Kamal Nath was not given a Rajya Sabha ticket by Sonia Gandhi. In protest, Kamal Nath’s son Nakul Nath had gone to Delhi to meet Amit Shah and Narendra Modi. It is expected that Kamal Nath and his son Nakul Nath may soon join the BJP. Earlier, Ashok Chavan, former Congress Maharashtra chief minister had quit the Congress. He rejoined the BJP and was promptly provided with nomination to the Rajya Sabha on the BJP ticket.
The BJP is using the old Trinamool Congress trick. It is offering Rajya Sabha seats to any dissident from the INDIA group including senior members of the Congress party.
The biggest catch of the BJP of course is Nitish Kumar. Nitish Kumar has aspirations of becoming the prime minister of India. Nitish Kumar at various points realized that he may not become the principal coordinator of the INDIA front. He was also opposed to Mallikarjun Kharge being made the leader of INDIA. Nitish Kumar feared that even his chief ministership would be threatened. Nitish Kumar obviously decided that it is preferable to be getting Bihar than nothing at all. His chief ministership in Bihar was threatened by the children of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Historically, Nitish Kumar has been in partnership with the BJP to rule Bihar.
More recently he broke away from the BJP too. He has now apparently decided that he is more secure and his chief ministership will not be undermined if he joins the BJP. He played a very major role in the formation of INDIA. His departure has virtually killed the INDIA alliance.

WEAKENING INDIA GROUP
AND a few stray thoughts on the further weakening of the INDIA group. In Uttar Pradesh it is Mulayam Singh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj who are the key players. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son Akhilesh Singh Yadav is the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj was also the former chief minister. They have been controlling the affairs of Uttar Pradesh for more than a decade. It took Narendra Modi’s caravan to topple the regional players from Uttar Pradesh.
IN a few stray thoughts on assembly elections and parliamentary elections the BJP won a major victory in Uttar Pradesh. In the parliamentary election it won all the 80-Lok Sabha seats from Uttar Pradesh. The Samajwadi party was part of the INDIA alliance. The Samajwadi Party is only willing to give a very few seats to Congress with whom they alliance in UP. It is likely the Samajwadi party may go it alone in UP. Even an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party is not ruled out. Mayawati is very old now and is no longer a powerful force in UP politics.
In West Bengal also Mamata Banerjee and the Congress parted ways over a seat-sharing arrangement. It was stressed by senior leader Sharad Pawar that India should arrive at a clear-cut seat-sharing formula so that the splits do not occur again. This advice was however ignored, a tragic result for India. The INDIA alliance will virtually split.

ANJUNA BANDH
AND a last stray thought on the villagers of Anjuna staging a peaceful protest at Starco Junction, on February 19, drawing attention to the state’s failure to resolve the long pending Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) issues. This protest followed a high court order directing the closure and demolition of 175 “illegally operating” commercial establishments. Apprehensive that the action will lead them to financial loss, the villagers urged the Goa government to resolve the issue without further delay. The locals also invited concerned citizens and stakeholders to join them in their peaceful protest.
“There are some establishments which existed even before the Coastal Regulation Zone law came into force. These are traditional structures but even they are declared as illegal,” lamented a local. Some villagers alleged that the government was delaying the finalization of the Coastal Zone Management Plan, due to which their businesses are suffering.
Residents also argued that the order is biased without hearing their side. Local MLA Delilah Lobo along with Calangute MLA Michael Lobo arrived at the protest site to show her support. “The state government needs to come up with a notification which says what are the documents legally accepted by the GCZMA or Panchayat to prove that structures are within the high tide line. We will meet the CM today on this issue,” said Lobo.
By end of the day, Anjuna locals called off their one-day bandh and appealed to the residents to restart their business. The residents have also decided to meet Chief Minister Sawant to discuss the CRZ issue.

WAR OF WORDS
AND a few stray thoughts on the war of words which took place between Manoj Parab and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo on February 19. In the midst of the heated atmosphere of the Anjuna bandh meeting, Michael Lobo engaged in a war of words with Revolutionary Goans president, Manoj Parab, shedding light on contentious issues surrounding land rights and legislative matters in Goa.
Reflecting on the encounter, Lobo voiced his concerns over the diversion of focus from pertinent issues plaguing the region. “Elections are close, Tukaram (Manoj) Parab has come to Anjuna bandh meeting not to solve problems but to instead started arguing on POGO bill. I did not want to argue with him on that so I kept quiet,” Lobo remarked, hinting at the diversionary tactics employed by some parties.
In a defence of the principles of democracy, Lobo reiterated the inseparable bond between Goa and the rest of India. “Goa is a part of India and Tukaram is trying to fool people, POGO bill is unconstitutional,” he asserted, underlining his commitment to upholding Constitutional norms.
Turning his attention to the contentious issue of land ownership, Lobo challenged the narrative surrounding the sale of paddy fields to non-Goans. “CM Sawant has already brought a bill that paddy fields can’t be sold to non-Goans. Why is he quiet on that, isn’t that what he wanted?” Lobo queried, highlighting the need for clarity and accountability in governance.
Asserting the fundamental rights of individuals to own property, Lobo emphasized the need for a balanced approach towards land ownership. “Any Goan can build his house anywhere in the country and similarly others can come to Goa and buy land. We are part of India. You can’t stop people from buying land in Goa,” he remarked, advocating an inclusive approach to land rights issues.

REMISSION FROM TB!
AND A FINAL last stray thought on my returning home over three months in the GMC. I have been fighting a lonely battle to be free from the pain of skeletal TB in Geriatric Ward No, 115. It has been touch and go and writing a living will is not in my hands. Even in a people’s public hospital it can be extremely expensive stay. Although my TB drugs are free and I don’t have to pay doctor’s fees we have to our shock been spending almost a lakh every month hiring migrant caretakers. Migrant caretakers charge Rs1,000 per shift and if you hire them for 24 hours it adds up to Rs2,000 plus, plus. Diapers, gloves, a slew of miscellaneous requirements inflate the costs to stay alive. Staying alive become unaffordable. My better three-quarters somehow does her best to liquidate things to find funds.
Now that I’m still alive and returning home when a crucial parliamentary election is coming up in April, I would like to make a last attempt to help Goa get a secular democratic government. I seek support from political leaders and all secular parties in this election. Please support generously to “Goan Observer” to save Goa from such activities as Shivaji statue installations everywhere, wherever there is some private land someone would like to take over in Shivaji Maharaj’s name.

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