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With CM Parrikar in the US, Goa government’s work slows down

The BJP’s allies in the government have both clarified that they are committed to Parrikar, but not BJP.

mumbai Updated: Mar 16, 2018 12:37 IST
Ketaki Ghoge
Ketaki Ghoge
Hindustan Times
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is currently undergoing treatment in the United States(HT file photo)

The Manohar Parrikar-led coalition government in Goa completed one year of being in power on Wednesday, but it now faces a serious challenge due to the chief minister’s (CM) health.

As Parrikar has been in the US since March 6 for medical treatment, there has been a growing perception that the government is now in slow mode.

Goa faces a ban on mining starting Friday, as per an order passed by the apex court. The government has now planned to file a review petition in the Supreme Court, after getting a nod from CM late on Thursday, and there is no guarantee of how the ban will play out on the ground. The mining ban, which is likely to bring unemployment to thousands of Goans, is the biggest challenge facing the government.

A cabinet advisory committee (CAC) of three ministers – Francis D’Souza, Sudhin Dhavalikar, and Vijai Sardesai - representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and allies Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), respectively was set up by Parrikar to help run the government before leaving.

However, the committee has mainly been delegated financial powers to clear development projects up to Rs5 crore and its tenure lasts till the end of the current fiscal year on March 31.

Parrikar has not given the acting charge of any of his five portfolios - home, finance, vigilance, personnel and general administration - to any of his cabinet ministers.

Much of the routine work continues to be carried out through the bureaucracy, including the Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma and Principal Secretary to the CM, P Krishnamurthy.

However, not everybody is happy with the decision.

“Bureaucracy often slows things down. Mr Parrikar is also not someone who is good with delegation, he is overburdened. I don’t think he should be looking at five departments at this stage. A subject like law and order needs an acting minister,’’ said a state minister.

As the coalition completes a year, majority of the issues faced by the state during the 2017 polls - such as finalizing a regional plan, decision over off-shore casinos, controversy over river nationalization, and mining - remain unresolved.

A senior BJP functionary pointed out that CAC has been set up chiefly to showcase collective leadership and to avoid tussles between the allies.

The BJP government that won only 13 seats last March cobbled up a government with the support of three MGP and GFP legislators, along with two independents. Without the support of even one ally, the government can fall.

MGP and GFP have clarified that they are committed to Parrikar, but not BJP.

“We back the CM completely. But, there is little denying that things have slowed down. As a government, there are various issues we need to tackle but that hasn’t happened. We will continue to be in this kind of emergency mode for another two to three months,’’ admitted Deepak Dhavalikar, president of MGP and brother of Sudhin, member of the CAC.

“I think the CM should give acting charge of his portfolios to his colleagues if he is going to stay away for a longer time,’’ he added.

However, D’Souza refuted that the government was in any kind of slow mode.

“The CM continues to be in charge of the overall situation. He is constantly in touch with the principal secretary,’’ said D’Souza, former Deputy Chief Minister.

Sardesai, the third member of the CAC admitted to a slowdown but said that the Goans would not grudge their CM some time.

“We chose a political compromise by backing the BJP only on the condition that Parrikar would be the CM. So, there is no denying that his health poses the biggest challenge before our government,’’ he said.

First Published: Mar 16, 2018 12:24 IST