GOA POLLS FUNDED BY LIQUOR SCAM?

By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal was taken into custody. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP fielded Kangana Ranaut for the parliamentary election. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa police discovered that 75% of Goa’s accidents happen in rural areas. For a Saturday following the week when Calangute MLA Michael Lobo gifted a red Mercedes SL55 AMG car to his beloved daughter.
AND a few stray thoughts on Arvind Kejriwal, functioning as chief minister in custody. Arvind Kejriwal was arrested on March 21, 2024 on charges that he was the kingpin of the Delhi liquor scam. Interestingly, the allegation is that the assembly election in Goa was funded by a Rs50 crore kickback in the Delhi excise liquor scam.
AAP had put up several candidates during the assembly election. The poll specialist Prashant Kishor was in charge of the AAP electoral strategy in Goa. Arvind Kejriwal himself visited Goa several times.
Among the top candidates of AAP were Elvis Gomes who took on Babush Monserrate in Panaji. Despite a very active social media campaign, AAP succeeded in winning only one seat. Captain Venzy Veigas won the Benaulim seat for AAP. Initially, AAP was keen on contesting the parliamentary election from Goa. Aravind Kejriwal had announced the candidature of Venzy Veigas for the South Goa parliament seat. Subsequently, when AAP reached an alliance with the Congress, it yielded both the seats in Goa to the Congress.
The Congress is yet to decide who will contest the south Goa polls. So far only the BJP has announced candidates for the two Goa parliamentary seats. The BJP announced on Sunday, March 24 that Pallavi Dempo would contest the south Goa parliamentary seat on the BJP ticket. This follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggestion that the BJP should have a women candidate in South Goa.
Though Pallavi Dempo is married to Panaji-based Shrinivas Dempo she was born and brought up in Margao. She studied chemistry at Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts & Science in Margao.
The liquor excise scam relates to the sharp lowering of excise duty on liquor by the AAP government in Delhi. This led to charges of huge kickbacks. The Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) leader K Kavitha leader from Telangana was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate for making a kickback of over Rs100 crore to Arvind Kejriwal. AAP Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has been in jail for over a year. Arvind Kejriwal has been insisting that his arrest was to prevent him from campaigning for the INDIA group in the forthcoming parliamentary election.

KANGANA RANAUT FOR BJP
AND a few stray thoughts on the BJP fielding Hindi film actress Kangana Ranaut for the parliamentary election. This comes as a surprise as there was no prior indication that the actress will be selected for a BJP seat in the parliamentary election. Unlike Smriti Irani, who won the last election against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, Kangana has never been in politics. Kangana is reputedly a good actress. She acted in films like “Chandramukhi 2,” “Tejas,” “Krish 3,” “Emergency,” “Manikarnika, The Queen of Jhansi,” “Dhaakad,” “Queen,” “Fashion,” etc.
Kangana is also supposed to be very religious and she visited the Ram Mandir to attend the Pran Pratishtha ceremony at Ayodhya. The filmi world has been wary of the BJP and there’s no trust bond of any kind. With the exception perhaps of Amitabh Bachchan who played a major role in the Pran Pratishtha of Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. Incidentally, Amitabh’s wife Jaya Bachchan, is a Samajwadi party MP from Uttar Pradesh. It was the Sahara India Pariwar Group chairman, Subrata Roy, who came to Amitabh’s help when he was going through a financial crisis.
In the meantime, although Maneka Gandhi has been given a ticket to contest from Sultanpur in UP, her son Varun Gandhi has been denied a ticket. He has been replaced by Jiten Prasada in Pilibhit.

GOA’S RURAL ACCIDENTS
AND a few stray thoughts on the Goa Police discovery that 75% of Goa’s accidents happen in rural areas. The Goa Police have revealed that over 72% of accidents in the state occur in rural areas. When it comes to deaths the rural areas claimed 214 lives, while 76 died in urban areas. Most of the accidents happened during peak hours from 6 pm to 9 pm with over 500 accidents in 2023. Moreover, the accidents took place on clear sunny days in residential areas.
What is a matter of worry that many of the accidents took place on state and national highways. The majority of accidents involved two-wheelers. It may be recalled that the accident which attracted the most attention was the Banastari incident where builder Paresh Sinai Sawardekar drove his Mercedes in a rash manner under the influence of alcohol. Over three people died in the incident.
Drunken driving is not limited to tourists. Unfortunately, Goans think that they have a great capacity in holding their alcoholic consumption. I have known many friends who behaved better when they were drunk. Goans don’t get caught as everyone knows somebody. Whenever Goans are involved their friendly minister or MLA runs interference to stop the police from investigating the case.
Even artificial intelligence inputs have not noted down the number of accidents in Goa. The latest are accidents involving rental cars. A tourist is alleged to have pushed a Goan biker into the Mandovi river. A large number of domestic tourists prefer to hire a car instead of hire one of the exorbitant taxis. Rentals of two-wheelers is also very popular in Goa as it is the most economical way of travelling.

RS2.7 CRORE MERC FOR LOBO DAUGHTER!
AND a few stray thoughts on Calangute MLA Michael Lobo gifting a red Mercedes SL55 AMG car to his daughter. The model costing Rs2.7crores is reportedly the latest model in the market. It is not only big industrialists who give and get expensive presents on birthdays and marriages of their kith and kin. Our BJP MLAs in Goa are so rich that they can present Mercedes cars to their children.
Michael does not have any sons and cannot be accused of gender discrimination. Clearly he dotes on his daughter. Allegedly he is also the king of all the massage parlours and dance bars in Calangute and owns several hotels for which he recently wanted to hire bouncers to tackle touts in Calangute. The police stopped him from doing so.
But Michael is very generous to his staff. I recall that he presented Nike shoes to one of his PSOs. The most generous MLA of course is Panaji MLA Babush Monserrate. Babush lives a very lavish lifestyle and owns several expensive cars. The story goes that when he got married to Jennifer he ordered the wedding gown from Paris. Babush almost lost all his money when the Goa University acquired a lot of his land in Dona Paula and Caranzalem. The advocate who fought his case and got back his land for him was rewarded with a bungalow in Dona Paula.
Babush owns a lot of property and is the biggest lender to the building industry. When builders don’t repay loans he takes over some flats in the building. This way he ends up owning many of the flats in new buildings down Miramar and Dona Paula stretch of capital city Panaji.

BALTIMORE BRIDGE
AND a few stray thoughts on Baltimore bridge in Maryland in USA collapsing. A cargo ship “Dali” lost power and rammed into a major bridge in Baltimore early Tuesday, March 26, 2024 destroying the bridge in a matter of seconds and plunging it into the river in a terrifying incident which disrupted a vital shipping port for months. Six people are found missing and presumed dead.
Interestingly, the ship’s crew was all Indian, 22 in total – they issued a Mayday call moments before the crash happened bringing down the Francis Scott Key Bridge. This enabled the authorities to limit vehicle traffic quickly, said Maryland’s governor. Reportedly the ship struck one of the bridge’s supports, causing the structure to collapse like a toy. The vessel caught fire and thick, black smoke billowed out of it. With the ship barrelling toward the bridge at “a very, very rapid speed” authorities had just enough time to stop cars from coming on to the bridge, as Maryland Governor Wes Moore clarified.
“These people are heroes,” Moore said of the Indian crew of the cargo vessel. “They saved lives last night.” Especially since the crash happened in the middle of the night, long before the busy morning commute on the bridge that stretches 1.6 miles (2.6 km) and used by 12 million vehicles (last year figures). The six people still unaccounted for were part of a construction crew filling potholes on the bridge, said Paul Wiedefeld, the state’s transportation secretary.
A senior executive of the company that employed the construction workers on Tuesday afternoon declared that they were presumed dead, given the water’s depth and the length of time since the crash happened. Jeffrey Pritzker, executive vice president of Brawner Builders, added that the crew was working in the middle of the bridge when it came apart. No bodies have been recovered.
“This was so completely unforeseen,” Pritzker said. “We don’t know what else to say. We take such great pride in safety, and we have cones and signs and lights and barriers and flaggers. But we never foresaw that the bridge would collapse.” Rescuers pulled two people out of the water. One person was treated at a hospital and discharged hours later.
Multiple vehicles also went into the water, although authorities did not believe anyone was inside. “It looked like something out of an action movie,” said Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, calling it “an unthinkable tragedy.” A police dispatcher put out a call just before the collapse saying a ship had lost its steering and asked officers to stop all traffic, according to Maryland Transportation Authority, first responder radio traffic obtained from the Broadcastify.com archive.
One officer who stopped traffic radioed that he was going to drive onto the bridge to alert the construction crew. But seconds later, a frantic officer said: “The whole bridge just fell down. Start, start whoever, everybody … the whole bridge just collapsed.” On a separate radio channel for maintenance and construction workers, someone said officers were stopping traffic because a ship had lost steering. There was no follow-up order to evacuate, and 30 seconds later the bridge collapsed and the channel went silent.
From 1960 to 2015 there have been 35 major bridge collapses worldwide due to ship or barge collision, according to the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure.

BALTIMORE PORT CLOSURE
THE Baltimore port closure is almost sure to create a logistical nightmare for months, if not years, along the East Coast, shutting down ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore which is a major shipping hub. The bridge collapse incident will also snarl cargo and commuter traffic.
“Losing this bridge will devastate the entire area, as well as the entire East Coast,” Maryland state Senator Johnny Ray Salling said. Highway signs as far south as Virginia warned drivers of delays associated with the bridge. Authorities said sonar had detected vehicles in the water, which is about 50 feet (15 metres) deep. The water temperature was about 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) before dawn Tuesday, according to a buoy that collects data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Synergy Marine Group — which manages the ship, called the Dali — confirmed the vessel hit a pillar of the bridge at about 1:30 am while in control of one or more pilots, who are local specialists who help guide vessels safely into ports. The ship is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. Synergy said all crew members and the two pilots on board were accounted for, and there were no reports of any injuries. The ship was moving at 8 knots, roughly 9 mph (14.8 kph). Jaggered remnants of the bridge can be seen jutting up from the water’s surface. The on-ramp ended abruptly where the span once began.
Donald Heinbuch, a retired chief with Baltimore’s fire department, said he was startled awake by a deep rumbling that shook his house for several seconds. “It felt like an earthquake.” He drove to the river’s edge and couldn’t believe what he saw. “The ship was there, and the bridge was in the water, like it was blown up.”
The bridge spanned the Patapsco river at the entrance to a busy harbour, which leads to the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 1977 the bridge acquired its name after the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Now all vessel traffic in and out of the port has been suspended until further notice although the facility is still open to trucks.

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S PLEDGE!
PRESIDENT Joe Biden of USA says he plans to travel to Baltimore “as quickly as I can” and intends the federal government to pick up the entire cost of rebuilding the broken Baltimore bridge in Maryland in USA recently. “This is going to take some time,” Biden said. “The people of Baltimore can count on us though, to stick with them at every step of the way until the port is reopened and the bridge is rebuilt.”
The FBI was on the scene said there was no credible information to suggest a terrorist attack on the bridge. The container ship was headed from Baltimore to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and flying under a Singapore flag, according to data from Marine Traffic. The ship is about 985 feet (300 metres) long and 157 feet (48 metres) wide.
Inspectors found a problem with the ship’s machinery in June, but a more recent examination did not identify any deficiencies, according to the shipping information system Equasis. Danish shipping giant Maersk said it had chartered the vessel. No Maersk crew and personnel were on board.
Last year, the Port of Baltimore handled a record 52.3 million tons of foreign cargo worth $80 billion. The head of a supply chain management company says Americans should expect shortages of goods because of the collapse of the ocean container shipping and east coast trucking.
“It’s not just the port of Baltimore that’s going to be impacted,” according to CEO of Flexport Ryan Petersen. The collapse is unlikely to hurt worldwide trade because Baltimore is not a major port for container vessels, but its facilities are more important when it comes to goods such as farm equipment and autos, according to Judah Levine, head of research for global freight booking platform Freightos.

GIDC BUMPER PROFITS
AND a final stray thought about on the Goa Industrial Development Corporation earning more money allotting plots to business houses. Recently, GIDC made bumper profits from the e-auction of industrial plots. It sold Verna plots at the rate of Rs15,700 per sq mtr. The plots were sold for a premium of Rs156 crore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

+ 83 = 91