Yet again Manohar Parrikar has decided to snub Francis Dsouza and not leave the reigns of the government in his hands but create a council of three ministers of Francis DSouza, Sudin Dhavlikar and Vijai Sardesai to run the Goa government in his absence.
The last time this happened was when Parrikar decided to go to the Centre and don the hat of India’s Defence Minister. Instead of appointing Francis DSouza – who was then the Deputy CM – as the Chief Minister of Goa, Parrikar decided to hand-over the position to his puppet – Laxmikant Parsekar, hoping to remote control the government. Everyone in Goa knows what a mess Parsekar made of governance in Goa in Parrikar’s abscense.
Francis was majorly upset and even threatened to quit the party at that point of time. If he found the courage to quit, then, he would garnered a lot of respect from the people of Goa, because he would have been seen as a man of principle and a man of his word. But he did not and decided to continue.
Francis faced all lot of criticism from the Catholic community for his ‘I am a Hindu-Christian’ statement. He had the courage to accept his ancestral roots and acknowledge it publicly.
To me BJP made a glaring tactical error in not elevating Francis to the CMs position because it would have sent a message to the rest of India that it is not a party driven by the Hindutva ideology alone but is truly secular in its approach where even a Christian could be a Chief Minister in a BJP-ruled state. If it had done that a considerable number of Christian supporters would have continued to gravitate to the BJP and the communal wagging tongues would have been shut up, once and for all.
Having watched Francis grow in his political stature over the years, it is without a doubt that he committed to the BJP’s governance model and stood by Parrikar and BJP during the times when Congress was running amok with a considerable number of Christian leaders in its fold. I know that Francis has been approached several times through different sources to shift his allegiance to Congress but he has always remained firm and will continue to remain firm with the BJP, though a little disappointed. Francis has been the inspiration for other Christian leaders to join the BJP in Goa.
Parrikar’s stand now on the three council of ministers might be a matter of alliance pressure or just a choice that maybe Francis might not be capable to be the CM. I know Parrikar will not be blinded by the fact that he a Christian MLA but still BJP could do the right thing and allow Francis to grow into the CMs position; even when Parrikar was in the hospital recently, the Assembly proceedings were handed-over to Dhavlikar and not Francis, which is shocking, because Dhavlikar is not a BJP leader but of the alliance – MGP.
It is sad that Parrikar acts strangely with a leader like Francis or for that matter Shripad Naik, who can easily be the best choice of CM after Parrikar, if not Francis. But here too, Parrikar decisions and stand throws up a lot of questions.
I my personal opinion, I would like to openly state that Francis will never become the Chief Minister of Goa and that is for BJP to answer why someone who was a Deputy Chief Minister, could not have been elevated to a CMs position then or given the reigns now. And if illness of Francis as mooted by some could be the reason, then Parrikar himself is currently not in the pink of health, and contrary to many positive reports being spread about his health, one can look at Parrikar and know that he is genuinely troubled by an illness and needs rest.