By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Chief Minister Pramod Sawant gave the credit for the high turnout of Goans to vote to the RSS karyakarta and Cardinal Filipe Neri. For a Saturday following the week when a large number of voters skipped the elections on Tuesday, May 7. For a Saturday following the week on the declining polling percentage in the Hindi belt. For a Saturday following the week when panic spread over a presumed TB relapse. For a Saturday following the week when Narendra Modi charged Rahul Gandhi over an absurdity.
AND a few stray thoughts on Chief Minister Pramod Sawant crediting the high turnout to the poll stations to the work of RSS karyakarta and also Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão. The turnout on Tuesday, May 7, 2024 was as high as 75.20%. While it was clear that the BJP karyakarta were very active, a large number of Catholics also came out to vote, particularly in Salcete.
Salcete saw a turnout of 71.11% which cheered the Congress candidate Capt Viriato Fernandes. Traditionally, Salcete has been seen as a stronghold of the Catholic minority population. It may be recalled that on the eve of polling, the church organized special masses in all the parishes. Catholics were told to vote for secular parties and uphold constitutional values. In a rare public appearance, Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrao himself cast his vote at a polling station in Altinho.
The church has made it clear that the Catholic community should come out to vote in large numbers to save democracy in the country. At the Government High School at Dona Paula, the most enthusiastic of the voters were the tribal people of Aiovo village.
Our representative on the spot was also happy to spot at the Dona Paula government high school polling station eminent senior citizens Anju and Audhut Timblo supporting one another while casting their vote; after the cooler early morning 7 to 10 am voters there was a lull and at 11 am there were hardly any voters in queue and it was quick voting whoever came, no wait at all. There were hardly any voters between noon and 4 pm too because the May summer heat was unbearable.
We hear all the voters at the Dona Paula government high school polling booth were given soft drink bottles to quench their thirst. Many young voters were furious about the ban on mobile phones within the polling area. There was no place to store the smart phones either. Both Congress and BJP are claiming that the large turnout of voters is an indication of their party winning.

AND a few stray thoughts on a large number of voters skipping the elections on Tuesday, May 7. Some of the polling officers complaint was that many of the bold and the beautiful and the rich and the powerful had gone for their summer holidays out of Goa for they did not care over much about voting. Some Catholics went off to pilgrimage Valankani, which is a popular outing for many.
Voters stayed away from voting because they were not happy with both the BJP and the Congress. Neither party has been able to solve the problem of unemployment in Goa. There are no jobs even for highly educated engineers and technologists who pass out of BITS Pilani or the NIT or Goa branch of the Indian Institute of Technology. Young people have gone abroad looking for jobs.

AND a few stray thoughts on the decline in polling percentage in the Hindi belt. Despite the attempt by Narendra Modi to polarize voters along communal lines, voters did not turn up in large numbers even in Uttar Pradesh. Despite all the Ram temple in Ayodhya grand opening, only 57% of the voters came out in UP. The state where Rahul Gandhi is contesting the election from Raebareli which was represented by Sonia Gandhi. The BJP has accused Rahul Gandhi of running away from contesting from Amethi where he was defeated by Smriti Irani last time.
The polling percentage in Maharashtra was also very low at 58%. Even in Modi’s home state Gujarat where elections to all the 25 parliamentary seats have been completed, the turnout was much lower than in 2019. The inability of the BJP party workers to mobilize and get voters to the polling station is considered bad for Narendra Modi.
There is a growing belief that the NDA headed by Narendra Modi will not get even 200 seats in parliament.

AND a few stray thoughts on the panic in me at the thought of relapse of spine TB which I have recovered from after six months of taking medicines. I have been taking the TB medicines for almost seven months now. I was diagnosed with spinal TB in October 2023, after I lived in denial for a year. Thanks to this I lost my ability to walk and that is what upsets me the most.
I was told that the TB protocol is that there should be treatment with the TB tablets for six weeks. During this period heavy duty, mega capsules which are a combination of four different drugs are given to the patients. It is presumed that at the end of the six weeks, the TB bacteria is dead and the patient in remission. For an additional two months, you are required to take a smaller dose of TB tablets.
But the story does not end there thought you may be told you are cured of TB. You have to continue taking the anti-TB tablets six to eight months (and some doctors say for some more months, 16 to 18 months). All doctors and friends keep warning me to continue with the tablets or I will get a relapse and that is worse. The greater fear is that if I stop swallowing the TB tablets I will develop resistance to the them. Nobody is willing to tell me what is the protocol is based on. Dr Edwin Gomes of the Geriatric department tells me that on completion of six months on May 31, I can stop taking my TB tablets.
But what if I get a relapse after that? Is the protocol for deciding how long you have to take TB tablets based on any study? Nobody is able to cite any protocol for me. Instead, I am terrified and intimidated with the fears of relapse if I stop taking the tablets. Dr Edwin Gomes has abandoned me claiming that he has cured me of TB. The TB officers of the Government of India in the Goa primary health centre are not willing to take over the management of my TB but keep telling me to continue the treatment.
Logically, since my spinal TB was diagnosed by expensive MRI at the Manipal hospital, I am told I should do another repeat MRI to check if there is any infection lurking anywhere. The bitter truth is that so far the TB treatment has left me as a cripple. I cannot use my right hand and right leg. Nobody is willing to manage my rehabilitation from the side effects of TB treatment. No doctor tells you when you are diagnosed that treatment of TB can take up to two years.
The son of a doctor friend had to be treated for two years before he was finally free of spinal TB. Treatment is free as far as the DOT tablets are given, but all the other costs add up to whopping bottomline I cannot afford. When the GOI under the DOT is happy to supply free TB tablets it does not provide for rehabilitation through physiotherapy or follow-up care. I am told all TB patients get Rs500 plus but this is long afterwards they are declared finally cured if ever. I am beginning to think the presently run TB program is a joke or a farce or an insult to TB patients.

AND a few stray thoughts on the charge by Narendra Modi against Rahul Gandhi. Now ironically, Narendra Modi has charged that the Ambanis and Adanis have bought the silence of Rahul Gandhi. This is in the context of Rahul Gandhi falling silent on Ambani and Adani. In the earlier part of his campaign Rahul had claimed that only the Adanis and Ambanis have benefited from the Narendra Modi government.
There is some evidence that the sudden prosperity of the Adani’s group was because of the patronage of the Modi government. Several public sector ports and even airports were transferred to the Adanis by the Modi government. Gautam Adani went with Modi to Australia. Adani has secured a major coal mining concession in Australia. It is the massive amounts of coal which are mined by the Adanis in Australia that are imported into India via Goa’s Mormugoa port trust. Rahul Gandhi had also claimed that more than 20% of the increase in wealth of the country in the last decade has gone to the Ambanis and Adanis.
It is a matter of record that the turnover of the Mukesh Ambani group rose by 20 times in the last ten years of Modi’s rule. Following an article in the foreign media of stock market manipulation, the shares of Adani fell sharply. The securities exchange board had ordered an enquiry into the stock market operations of the Adani group. Rahul has been claiming that during the ten years of Modi government, the rich have become richer and everybody else poorer. He has proposed a wealth survey for the re-distribution of wealth.
This was twisted by Modi to claim that Rahul wanted to take away the “mangalsutra” of Hindu women to give it to Muslims. In response to Modi’s absurd charges, Rahul Gandhi has demanded that the CBI and ED should investigate the wealth of the Ambanis and the Adanis and how it was acquired.

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