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Wednesday, Aug 21, 2019

100 days of Goa govt: Stuck between warring allies, BJP turns referee

The Common Minimum Programme which the CM had talked about soon after forming the government in March was present to the state after a delay of three months.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2017 08:08 IST
Nida Khan
Nida Khan
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar(PTI)

The first 100 days of the BJP-led coalition government in Goa have been more about appeasing alliance partners than setting up base rules for governance, observers say.

Forming the government on March 13 after having lost the popular mandate, the BJP tied up with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party in order to attain magical majority figure of 21, but this unplanned alliance between the parties has often resulted in disputes between the smaller partners. The BJP is then confined to play the role of a referee as it tries to strike a balance.

For example, when tourism minister Manohar Asgaonkar – a Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party member -- blamed the Indian tourists for spoiling Goan heritage and also asked for a ban on the Lamani community. This triggered outrage and forced BJP MLA Michael Lobo to apologise for the comments.

Next, MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar was quoted by media asking for a complete ban on beef slaughter. His remark came days after a VHP leader in Goa had asked for outlawing beef. The statement went down so badly with the Christian and Muslim community in Goa that chief minister Manohar Parrikar had to step in to clear the air.

“We believe in law. We will follow it. I cannot stop anyone as long as freedom of speech exists. As far as I am concerned, I am here to ensure law is followed, the law will be followed,” Parrikar had said.

But even after these clarifications the issue has failed to die.

“It was an unplanned and a completely unexpected government. The Goans had never expected that the BJP will come to power and to make it interesting, Manohar Parrikar will return to the state as the chief minister. So it’s very difficult to find the baseline of this government. It looks in a state of confusion right now,” said senior journalist Fredrick Noronha.

The common minimum programme which the chief minister had talked about soon after forming the government in March was also presented to the state after a delay of three months, and failed to deliver.

While coconut was declared as the state tree in the CMP after a massive unrest amongst the Goans since last year after the then BJP govt led by Laxmikanth Parsekar had denotified it and given it the status of grass other core issues like shifting of casinos or getting more employment opportunities was completely ignored.

“This was an issue which had caught the ire of the people. In fact this was one of the issue which got the kingmaker Goa Forward Party votes. Coconuts form the core identity of the locals and the previous government had just gone ahead and snatched it from us. So this was definitely one area wherein this new coalition government had to act and they did that,” said Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, another senior journalist from the state.

The denotification of coconut as grass had resulted in massive deforestation as the distillers in the state got a free hand in cutting of the trees without getting a proper permission from the forest department.

Issues such as amendment to the Tenancy Act and Investment Promotion Board that were earlier rejected by the BJP government are now getting a special mention in the agenda.

But the Opposition calls the BJP-led coalition directionless. “Whatever announcements they have made are a repeat of the 2012 election manifesto. Then also Parrikar had said that they will shift the casinos and had given a deadline and the same has been done this term as well. It’s a pure tactic to fool the people,” said Congress spokesperson Yatish Naik.

First Published: Jun 30, 2017 08:08 IST

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