AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the elections to the Rajya Sabha in Himachal Pradesh were marred by cross-voting and horse-trading by the BJP. For a Saturday following the week when there was relief in the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC). For a Saturday following the week when the Congress was forced to play the role of a junior partner. For a Saturday following the week when the Calangute Panchayat employed a bouncer to chase away touts. For a Saturday following the week when the GSSC (Goa Staff Selection Commission) declares the first exam results in 24 hours. Finally, for a Saturday following the week when a large number of Olive Ridley turtles turned up to snuggle down in the soft sands of Morjim and Agonda beaches.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Rajya Sabha elections in HP which was marred by horse-trading by the BJP. In this phase, elections are being held for 15 Rajya Sabha seats. Ten of these are from Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has only enough votes to elect seven Rajya Sabha members of parliament. The BJP however fielded eight candidates. This included a leading industrialist. The Rajya Sabha election showed the extent to which the BJP will go to consolidate its position in parliament.
While the BJP had an overwhelming majority in the Lok Sabha it was short of members in the Rajya Sabha. Ahead of the Rajya Sabha election, the BJP is alleged to have used money power to get Samajwadi MLAs to defect. The BJP succeeded in that eight Samajwadi MLAs did not attend the dinner organised by Akhilesh Yadav on the eve of the Rajya Sabha election.
However, it is believed that the eight MLAs were among those who voted for the eight BJP candidates. The BJP has also been accused of horse-trading in Karnataka.
The political parties in Karnataka took to five-star resort politics. All the Congress MLAs and the BJP MLAs were taken to a five-star hotel to ensure that there would be no defection. They were escorted to the Karnataka assembly on Tuesday, February 27, which was the day when the Rajya Sabha elections were held.
The irony is that officially now a whip can be issued for the Rajya Sabha elections. If the members of the party cross vote in the Rajya Sabha election they would not be liable for disqualification.
For the BJP of course, it was very important that they get as many Rajya Sabha seats as possible. It is not enough to get the 400 seats in the Lok Sabha, if the party does not have the 2/3rds majority in the Rajya Sabha. This time around Sonia Gandhi has not contested the Lok Sabha elections. She has got herself elected to the Rajya Sabha. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is expected to contest the Rae Bareli seat.

AND a few stray thoughts on the relief in the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC). The GPCC was disturbed by AAP announcing that Captain Venzy Veigas, its Benaulim MLA, would contest the South Goa parliamentary seats. South Goa has been a bastion of the Congress party. It may be recalled that Eduardo Faleiro got elected repeatedly from South Goa. Francisco Sardinha is a sitting Lok Sabha member of parliament. Following the seat-sharing agreement with the Congress, Arvind Kejriwal has conceded the two seats in Goa to the Congress party. It is expected that Captain Venzy will not file its nomination.
The Congress is very relieved that AAP is not contesting from South Goa. Francisco Sardinha has staked his claim for the South Goa seat parliamentary seat. The Congress has not decided who will contest from North Goa. The Congress has entered into an alliance with AAP for the seven seats in New Delhi. AAP will contest four seats leaving three for the Congress.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Congress being forced to play the role of a junior partner. There was a time when the Congress was supreme and regional parties sought the help of the Congress. Times have changed and the Congress is at the mercy of the regional party and that of the Samajwadi party. The Congress has entered into an alliance with the Samajwadi party for the Lok Sabha election in Madhya P and Uttar Pradesh.
In both states the majority of seats will be contested by the Samajwadi party. The Congress has no choice but to be the junior partner. The only states in which the Congress is still in power are Karnataka and Telangana. The AAP is emerging as the main opposition to the BJP in the Lok Sabha election. AAP already controls Punjab in addition to New Delhi. AAP has refused to enter into alliance with anybody in Punjab.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Calangute panchayat employing a bouncer to chase away touts. Calangute is full of hotel and night club agents. There are also touts canvassing business for the massage parlors. Calangute has more touts than a genuine marketing agency. The touts take the tourists for a ride. They are flourishing as they have the patronage of the Calangute MLA Michael Lobo. The Calangute panchayat has no control over the touts. The police refused to act on their complaints. In a desperate move, the Calangute panchayat has decided to employ bouncers. Bouncers are thugs who can handle and harm tourists. The police have warned that bouncers cannot be a substitute for the police.
Indeed, the police have arrested the bouncers of the panchayat. There were complaints against the bouncers by tourists. There seems to be a total collapse of law and order in Calangute.

AND a few stray thoughts on MOPA opening for Qatar Airways from June 2024. Qatar Airways on Monday, February 26 announced the shifting of its operations to the new Manohar International Airport at Mopa in north Goa. The airline said that it will cease operations at Dabolim International Airport, located in South Goa, on June 20, with its last flight landing from Doha’s Hamad International Airport scheduled on June 19 and its last departure from Dabolim on June 20.
The Goa-Doha route will be served with the same schedule of a direct daily flight operated on a mix of Airbus 320 and Boeing 787, said the airline, which in the future will operate exclusively from Mopa. Qatar Airways is the second international airline after Oman Air to operate wholly from Mopa airport. The airline first launched its operations in Goa in 2009, marking it the start of a long-standing partnership between Doha and Goa. The transition from Dabolim to Mopa heralds a superior airport experience for travellers on the Qatar Airways network to over 170 destinations, said the airline.
Currently, Qatar Airways flies to 13 destinations in India – Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Calicut, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur and Thiruvananthapuram. Competition between the two airports in the state, located in the North and South districts, is increasing. While the Dabolim airport is closer to Panaji city, the Mopa airport offers an enhanced flying experience due to more spaciousness.

AND a few stray thoughts on the GSSC declaring its first selection exam results in 24 hours. The Goa Staff Selection Commission (GSSC), a newly established recruitment body of the Goa government, has declared the results of the first examination conducted for 33 group ‘C’ posts in six departments within 24 hours.
The commission had conducted a Computer Based Test (CBT) on February 25 and the results were declared on February 26. The CBT was conducted for three posts of network engineers in the transport department, two posts of the laboratory technician and assistant sub-inspector-wireless operator in the police department, 19 posts in higher education, namely 8 posts of librarian grade I, 8 posts of librarian grade–II and three technicians for government colleges, seven posts of drawing teacher in the education department, one post of conservation assistant in the Directorate of Museums and one post of lighthouse keeper in the Captain of Ports department.
A total of 984 candidates answered the exam for the 33 posts. The government has set up the Goa Staff Selection Commission for recruiting candidates for group ‘C’ posts in government departments. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had announced that in order to bring in transparency in recruitment in government departments and to select candidates on merit basis, the government has set up this body. The Commission is currently headed by Principal Secretary Dr V Candavelou, IAS with Daulat Hawaldar, IAS (retired) and Menino D’Souza as members.
AND a last stray thought on the huge population of Olive Ridly turtles procreating happily in the sandy beaches of Morjim and Agonda. The turtles seem to prefer Agonda as Morjim has become too noisy. Over the last week we heard around 200 Olive Ridley turtles visited Agonda beach. They collectively laid over 2,000 eggs. The job of procreation done they returned back to their home, the Arabian Sea. The nests are now guarded strictly by the Wildlife department beach guards. Locals too take an interest in making sure the eggs are safe and not stolen away.
When the eggs hatch the baby turtles will instinctively makes their way to the sea. Goa has become a major destination for Olive Ridley turtles and some wildlife groups do arrange turtle watching visits. We hear one lost Olive Ridley turtle even turned up for safe sanctuary at Miramar beach which is frequented by Ponjekars and tourists every morning, noon and night.

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