By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when the Minister of State of Power Shripad Naik expressed an interest in becoming the chief minister of Goa. For a Saturday following the week when the BJP leaders wood the church in Rome, Italy very aggressively. For a Saturday following the week when Elon Musk, the boss of X (formerly Twitter) insisted that Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) can be hacked. For a Saturday following the week when Priyanka Gandhi has been nominated to contest the Wayanad parliamentary seat vacated by Rahul Gandhi. For a Saturday following the week when Revolution Day was observed on June 18, the date which marks the last which marks the first phase of the Liberation struggle.
AND a few stray thoughts on Minister of State of Power Shripad Naik expressing an interest in becoming the chief minister of Goa. In a recent interaction with media Shripad Naik made it clear that he would be happy to return to the Goa as its chief minister. This is not new and many Goans know that he has always been interested in becoming the chief minister of Goa.
Shripad was a strong contender for chief minister until Manohar Parrikar entered Goan politics. Parrikar did not want any competition within Goa. He was aware that Shripad Naik was a much more senior leader in the BJP party. That he also enjoyed an excellent relationship with the top leaders of the BJP stretching from Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Narendra Modi. Shripad was offered the post of a junior minister at the Centre right from the time of the late Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Though Shripad has been a Minister of State at the Centre, he has not been very effective. During his last tenure he was shifted from AYUSH Ministry to Tourism & Waterways Ministry. In the present new cabinet he has been appointed as Minister of State for Power & Renewable energy. To the embarrassment of Shripad Naik, Goa’s Power Minister Sudin Dhavalikar immediately increased the power tariff by 3-4% per unit with the chief minister’s blessings. This could mean an increase of almost Rs500 more in domestic electricity billing for consumers.
It is obvious that Shripad Naik was not consulted about the power hike by the State’s power boss. When media people pointed this out to Shripad Naik he expressed ignorance and promised to take up the issue with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant. Shripad went to the extent of stating that the Goa government should not put a bigger burden on Goans. The hike in power tariff is expected to impact agriculture and industry besides the common citizen. During the hearing on the increase in power tariff, all stakeholders in Goa opposed it.
There will be pressure on Power Minister Sudhin Dhavalikar to reduce the power tariff which is already coming into force. A matter of worry for Pramod Sawant is that Shripad Naik appears to be keen on returning to state politics.

AND a few stray thoughts on BJP leaders wooing the Catholic church very aggressively. Perhaps Chief Minister Sawant and Governor Pillai have realized the folly of blaming Cardinal Filipe Neri for the loss of the South Goa parliamentary seat. Earlier this week the new bishop, Fr Simiao Purificacao Fernandes, was sworn in the Goa Archdiocese.
The last time a new bishop was appointed was when Filipe Neri was appointed as bishop in January 25, 1994. Goa did not have a bishop as Filipe Neri was promoted to the status of a cardinal. The new Bishop Rev Fr Simiao Purificacao Fernandes is from Chandor and he was consecrated as bishop at a ceremony at Se Cathedral by Cardinal Filipe Neri in the presence of a large group of bishops of Goan origin.
Bishop Simiao Fernandes has stressed the need to respect all religions. He has also called for retaining the secular character of Goa. The new bishop was the parish priest of the church in Taleigao. Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai was present at the ordination of the new bishop. Besides the governor there was Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and BJP State President Sadanand Shet Tanavade who were also present.
Therefore, it is even more significant that the new bishop stressed harmony and building unity in Goa. During the parliamentary elections, Goa saw polarization along communal lines. While all the Hindu majority constituencies gave a lead to the BJP the Catholic constituencies supported the Congress. The cardinal may be shifted to Rome since a new bishop has been appointed to look after the affairs of the church in Goa.

AND a few stray thoughts on Elon Musk, the boss of Twitter which has now become X and also Tesla boss, has confirmed that Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) can be hacked, rigged, manipulated. Musk was talking in the context of his home country US politics where the EVM election system is so sophisticated that in some states they are used for residential elections.
Musk, who should know, declared that any EVM machine today can be hacked. This comes at the time when there is a controversy of EVMs being rigged in the north Goa parliamentary constituency where the rebel Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde was elected. Shinde won the election by a meager number of 48 votes.
It has been alleged even by Rahul Gandhi that EVMs in his constituency were rigged. It has been reported that a close relative of Eknath Shinde had been allowed to carry a mobile into the polling booth. The charge is that Shinde is kin and received an OTP which enabled him to open the EVM machine after the votes were cast. The Election Commission of India has not clarified if outsiders can open EVM machines and tamper with votes. Former IT Minister Chandra Shekar insists that Indian EVMs are standalone machines which are not connected to the internet.
The EVM machines are manufactured by a public sector company, namely Bharat Electronics. The software in the EVM can be tempered and rigged at the production stage itself. The BJP government in power could have interfered with the manufacture of EVM machines. Criminal cases have been filed in Maharashtra against the election officer-in-charge of the polling booth where it is claimed the EVM machine was tampered with.

AND a few stray thoughts on Priyanka Gandhi being nominated to contest the Wayanad parliamentary seat vacated by Rahul Gandhi. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was very reluctant to contest the Raebarelli seat which was vacated by her mother. Instead, the Congress party nominated Rahul Gandhi to contest the seat. For the Amethi seat the party nominated Capt Satish Sharma who is the close confidant of Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress party won both the Amethi and the Rae Barelli seats by large margins. Smriti Irani who defeated Rahul Gandhi the last time in Amethi could not repeat her performance and conceded to Rahul. Indeed, it is believed that the INDI Alliance performed very well in UP, thanks to intense campaigning by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Apparently, the logic of Priyanka staying out of the election was to enable her to campaign for INDIA candidates in UP. It may be recalled that there was a sharp fall in the number of seats won by the BJP in UP.
So now the Gandhi family has recovered its confidence as it is seen as the architect of the revival of the Congress and the good performance of the INDI Alliance. Rahul Gandhi, who won both the Wayanad parliamentary seat in Kerala and Raebarelli in UP, has decided to give up the Wayanad seat. The Congress has decided to nominate Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Wayanad. If Priyanka get selected there will be three Gandhis in parliament. Rahul and Priyanka will be in the Lok Sabha while mama Sonia has already been elected to the Rajya Sabha.

AND a few stray thoughts on Revolution Day observed in Goa on June 18, it marks the first phase of the Liberation struggle against Portuguese rule. Ironically, the 18, June Road which is the commercial hub of capital city Panaji, has been witnessing flooding due to the incompetent roadways work of the Smart City Project. Indeed, the Goa bench of the high court, has asked the government to file criminal cases against the contractors appointed.
Goa’s Revolution Day marks the public call given by the Indian freedom fighter Ram Manohar Lohia at the Lohia maidan in Margao while visiting Goa. Lohia had come to Goa for a holiday after he was released from jail by the British. He was the classmate of Goan freedom fighter Dr Julio Menezes. Lohia was shocked over denial of freedom of speech and expression in Goa. He called for ending colonial rule and was promptly arrested by the Portuguese authorities on his arrival at Lohia maidan for a meeting. The so called maidan is just a small space open space of a garden ground where a statue of Ram Manohar Lohia now stands. Lohia maidan has become a popular venue for protest meetings.
The maidan which was renovated at a cost of Rs30 crore but is in a very bad state still. The main Revolution Day function this year was not held in Margao at Lohia maidan but in Panaji at Azad maidan. In keeping with the new BJP love minorities Chief Minister Pramod Sawant visited veteran freedom fighter Libby Lobo Sardesai, who celebrated her 100th birthday recently. She and her husband Waman Sardesai ran a rebel radio station attacking Portuguese rule during the run up years to Liberation. The radio station worked secretively in the thick jungles of Londa at the Goa-Karnataka borderland. It was Ram Manohar Lohia who motivated Goans and the Socialist party to fight to liberate Goa from Portuguese rule.

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