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100 days of Parrikar Government!

I must say this quite openly that many people I have interacted with since this government has come into power under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar; were hopeful and optimistic about the kind of governance the state would witness in the months to come.  And even after 100 days that hope and optimism continues simply because there is promise in the genuine intent of what the Chief Minister wants to do for the people of Goa.

The budget appeared to be a good start especially in the reduction of VAT on Petrol. Some quarters are critical about this fact that it does not benefit the larger population of the state and it should have also been on diesel. And while that is debatable, it was certainly a step that many other states failed to take even BJP ruled states but as a CM, he did take it and brought relief too many people who use two-wheelers and four-wheelers that run on petrol. The reduction in casino entrance fee was questionable but the increase in casino license fee was certainly the right thing to do. But what would be the most appropriate step for the CM to do is to like he had earlier mentioned push the casinos out of the Mandovi River. I am not sure, if he would be able to stop Casinos altogether in the state (that is because the Casino lobby like the mining lobby is no one to sit back and accept any harsh steps towards their business, also one cannot deny the connections of the Casino lobby at the Centre). We are yet to see the mechanism that the government would put in place to stop young Goans from venturing into Casinos.

On the Mopa Airport issue, he has committed that he would not close down the Dabolim Airport, though the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) report states that it would not be feasible to run two airports. He has also committed that he would commission feasibility and viability report shortly before taking any stand on the Mopa Airport. This I am told is expected to happen within the next 3 months.

The solution on the MoI was much appreciated by most parents and even the Diocesan Society. It was a well thought of administrative decision while also keeping an eye on the politics of the issue. By doing that he showed that he had the courage to take steps in the interest of the people at large, even if it might not necessarily follow the ideology of the political party he comes from; though no one from BJP is complaining on the MoI issue.

The ‘Zero-Corruption’ agenda that he treads on is not a simple task. It is coupled with serious political compulsions, tremors of which are already being felt in the alliances and some of his own MLAs, but because the party has a majority on its own, it will be difficult for anyone one with the government or the alliance to try and topple his government. The frustration lies primarily because he wants to have a corruption free government and also wants to make people accountable for their actions. Currently, the MGP alliance and their ministers in the Cabinet appear to be put on a tight leash by the CM, otherwise, there is no doubt that they would walk the path of the comfort and corruption they enjoyed being in alliance with the Congress-led government.

Mining continues to be an area where while it appears that some efforts are being made to set systems right. Illegal mining still continues and NGOs tracking the mining concerns in Goa feel that nothing much has changed between the previous government and the current government on serious concerns of mining. This is one are area I am not convinced that Parrikar is doing his best to curb the illegal mining, especially since he has most of the details of the illegal mining because of the PAC report. He can curb illegal mining and regularize mining for the benefit of the people of Goa. He must refrain from making statements now saying that support for environment should not be source for economic problems; which literally puts more emphasis on economic activity than environment. And if it is for the benefit of the people, how are they benefitting especially the villagers in the mining villages. But here too I do not expect much to be done by the Chief Minister simply because the mining lobby quite literally rules Goa and any government in the state. And if Parrikar was serious about curbing illegal mining then he would go after the companies he mentioned in his PAC report first, including the big sharks of mining in Goa. Strangely, Dinar Tarcar – the MGP candidate he had distanced himself from during the assembly elections on account of illegal mining mentioned in the PAC report, continues to mine on the mine which was termed illegal.

The ‘Lokayukta’ stance taken by the CM has not found favor with the India against Corruption (IAC) and rightfully so because they were given assurances that the government would take certain valuable points from the Uttarakhand Lokayukta Bill, but in the end they were not incorporated in the Goa Lokayukta Bill. When I asked the newly appointed Law Commissioner on this point, he stated, that if we were to put more changes to the Lokayukta Bill, we would have to go through the whole process of approvals. So it was decided that the new Goa Lokayukta Bill should be approved in its current form and other important amendments could be made later. I find this reasoning a little flimsy.

I would not like to comment on the rest of his team of ministers, because other than Francis D’Souza, I have not found any of the others to talk with vision and understanding of the job at hand. They seem like a fish out of water. But, then for most of them, it is their first time as ministers, so it will not be fair to critical. But it is difficult to get them to talk about their vision for their ministries without them bringing in the line, “we will need to check with the CM”. While in one way it is good that all follow a leader, but if they cannot decide for their ministry then should not the CM keep all the portfolios.

Tourism is one area I am hoping this government does something unique, because I believe the CM has some good ideas on this sector. However, his Minister for Tourism needs to get a serious crash course in tourism business and how it is an economic generator. And if this sector needs to grow, Tourism Director like Swapnil Naik must be transferred, he is simply not competent for that role. Keep Goa free from garbage should be the priority of this tourism minister first. Tourists do not want to see a dirty tourism destination.

You might ask whether I am happy with the performance of this government. I am neither thrilled nor disappointed. But I continue to remain optimistic and hopeful because at least this CM wants to do something more than just make money for himself.

Mr Parrikar since this issue is fresh and has annoyed quite a lot of Goans, please ban the likes of Pramod Mutalik of the Sri Ram Sena such elements will only bring their brand of communal disharmony to the peaceful state of Goa. Saying that it his democratic right to set-up office a Goa is hardly a statement one would expect from a CM, especially if you are aware of the nuisance value such a character brings to the table.

 

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