BY Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Enforcement Directorate arrested AAP worker Charanpreet Singh in connection with alleged reported financing of the Goa election. For a Saturday following the week when the houses which were demolished in Sangolda belonged to migrants from Karnataka. For a Saturday following the week when as a result of the Israel-Iran conflict the stock market collapsed. For a Saturday following the week when there seems to be very little election fever though the polling is less than a month ago. For a Saturday following the week when Revolutionary Goans are offering to enter into a seat-sharing deal with the Congress party.
AND a few stray thoughts on when the Enforcement Directorate arrested AAP worker Charanpreet Singh in connection with the reported financing of the Goa election. The ED sleuths claimed that they arrested Charanpreet Singh from Delhi in connection with the funds for the 1922 Goa elections. Charanpreet Singh has been arrested not from Goa but from Delhi. The ED claims he managed funds for the Goa elections. The ED seems to be in a hurry to tighten the noose around the neck of Delhi chief minister and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court did not give Kejriwal any interim relief in the liquor excise scam. Despite conducting raids the Enforcement Directorate has not established links with anyone in Goa. It is not been able to prove that any of the AAP candidates in the 2022 assembly election received any funds in cash from Arvind Kejriwal. This is the primary offence made out accusing Arvind Kejriwal of money laundering. This involves the conversion of white money into black.
Indeed, the main charge against Kejriwal is that he transferred Rs50 crore to candidates in South Goa, to contest the 2022 assembly election on two of the 50-odd candidates put up by AAP who won the 2022 assembly election. This includes the high-profile Capt Venzy Vieges from Benaulim and Cruz Silva from Velim. AAP replaced its Goa president after its dismal performance in Goa in 2022.
More recently when Arvind Kejriwal came to Goa he found very little awareness of AAP in Goa. Arvind Kejriwal expressed dismay that the people of Goa did not think of AAP as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress.
Clearly, AAP success in Delhi where it got more than 2/3rd majority could not be repeated in Goa. The influence of AAP is limited to some northern states. AAP has formed the government only in Punjab besides New Delhi. It does not appear that Arvind Kejriwal will be released from Tihar jail any time soon. This is the first time a sitting Chief Minister has been put in jail just before the Lok Sabha parliamentary elections.
Indeed, the Lok Sabha election got off to a start on April 19 with the Coimbatore seat featuring the Tamil Nadu BJP seat K Annamalai taking on the challenge from the DMK. The problem with the Enforcement Directorate case against AAP leaders is that no money trail has been established.

AND a few stray thoughts on the homes which were demolished in Sangolda which belonged to migrants from Karnataka. All the illegal structures on comunidade land belongs to Karnataka migrants. Many of them claim to have been staying in Sangolda for several decades. We cannot help wondering if the demolitions were politically motivated. The government of Pramod Sawant is claiming that the structure was demolished following a high court order. The BJP government insists that in the absence of the stay order, they could not delay the demolition. It may be recalled that though the high court had similarly ordered the demolition of illegal structures in Anjuna, but the local panchayat did not take any action.
The high court has now directed the Arambol panchayat to demolish 125 illegal structures. Since nobody was challenging the illegal structure the high court took it up suo moto. This means that the court itself took on the issue based on media reports. Left with no choice the Arambol panchayat has agreed to demolish a total of 216 illegal structures. Already 88 demolition notices have been issued.
All the cases of illegal structures belong to migrants. Along the coastal belt, there are many commercial structures including hotels and restaurants, which have been declared illegal. Even with the height of the controversy over illegal structures, there is some advertisement announcing a new upmarket restaurant in Anjuna called ‘You & Me’. It would appear that eating out or upmarket dining has replaced the beaches as the main tourist attraction of Goa. The Election Commission should investigate if there is a political motive behind the illegal constructions.

AND a few stray thoughts on when as a result of the Israel-Iran conflict the stock market collapsed. The Israeli-Iran conflict has affected economies all over the world. Strangely, the mainstream media in the country has not given much publicity to the Iranian air strikes against Israel. Israel has confirmed that Iran had fired 170 drones, 30 cruise missiles and 120 ballistic missiles. So far the conflict in Israel has been limited to the Palestine region. Both Hamas, a revolutionary group in Palestine, and Israel have been engaged in a bitter conflict.
The entry of Iran into the war means a widening of the conflict. The fear is that the Iran-Israel conflict might spread to the Gulf countries. It may be recalled that Saddam Hussein, the dictator of Iraq, had invaded Kuwait in 1990. By and large, the Gulf countries which are very prosperous have refused to take sides. Not because they have no sympathy for Palestine but because they do not want to endanger the very comfortable lifestyles that the citizens of the Gulf countries enjoy. Even the internet prompted the Arab spring which destabilized governments in many countries like Egypt did not affect the Gulf states.
Iran as well as Palestine are Shia states. The Sheikhs of Saudi Arabia are predominantly Sunni. The conflict comes at a time when there is Islamophobia in the UK and Europe. The mayor of London is a Muslim, Sadiq Khan. A cousin of my better half who had come to attend a destination wedding in Goa was concerned about a Muslim takeover of the UK and Europe.
There have been bitter clashes between migrants and Muslims in France and other European countries. The problem with Muslims is that they do not integrate with local communities. At the same time, Islam certainly seems to have been appealed to Europeans. Moderate Islam is not fundamentalist Islam. This is true of Goa also. The traditional Muslims of Goa belong to the Khoja Muslims who are a trading community headed by Aga Khan. They are integrated with Goan society.
However, this is not true of the increasing wave of migrant Muslims from Uttar Pradesh and other parts of the country. Even the Karnataka Muslims are much more fundamental than the Goan Muslims born and bred in Goa.

AND a few stray thoughts on the Finance & Commerce Ministry which withdrew the health drink label from the popular beverage of Bournvita manufactured by Cadbury. For decades we recall that Bournvita has been the most popular health drink, particularly for children.
It is not known whether other health drinks like Horlicks have also been impacted. The difference in tax between common drinks and health drinks is huge. There has always been a controversy over the heavy promotion of the so-called health drinks like Bournvita, particularly as healthy beverages. The Bournvita Quiz Contest was one of the most popular TV programs in the country hosted by Derek O’Brien who is a Trinamool Congress Member of Parliament.
We do not know if Cadbury which is a multinational did not contribute adequately to the election funds of the BJP. Incidentally, the Cadbury chocolates manufactured in India are very different in taste from those made in parent country, the United Kingdom. It is alleged that due to the hot climate in India, Cadbury is forced to add certain chemicals to ensure that the chocolates will not melt quickly.
The UK is a temperate country and chocolates be they Cadbury or not do not have to be stored in refrigeration. Incidentally, in Europe and the Western countries young people, including executives, virtually live on large chocolate bars. Chocolate is food.

AND a last stray thought on there being very little election fever though polling is less than a month away. There is no election fever in the media in Goa. There are hardly any reports of the performance of the candidates. Both the BJP and the Congress have announced their candidates. There are no posters or hoardings. There is not been a single public meeting of either the Congress candidates or the BJP candidates.
It is been claimed that Narendra Modi will attend a public meeting in Curchorem for BJP candidate Pallavi Dempo. Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari are also expected to participate in the campaign. The local BJP leaders are trying to attract voters by projecting that Pallavi Dempo will be included in the Narendra Modi cabinet. However, there is no sign of any national Congress leaders visiting Goa to campaign for Ramakant Khalap and Capt Viriato Fernandes.
Perhaps Arvind Kejirwal would have come to back the combined INDIA candidates. But Kejriwal is in jail. Khalap is trying to play down his passion for Marathi. Captain Viriato Fernandes is concentrating on the Catholic votes. Pallavi is depending entirely on the BJP karyakarta. The ground reality is that the BJP does not have any karyakarta in south Goa.

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