On March 9th 2012 Manohar Parrikar started his second innings as Chief Minister by burdening the State exchequer with Rs.11 lakhs squandered on that pompous swearing-in ceremony on SAG grounds at Campal rather than the customary modest one at Raj Bhavan. Were the best and brilliant from amongst his MLAs chosen as Ministers? Matanhy Saldanha’s sudden death was a jolt to this government. But how is it that the BJP which claims to oppose Family Raj could find only Alina to fill the void? Late Matanhy himself was strongly opposed to Family Raj. On Manohar Parrikar’s political tricks of the trade to get Alina elected unopposed, the less said the better.
In its ‘Vision Document’ the BJP promised that Annual Performance Reports of every government department would be prepared and publicized. This has not happened. Also promised was participatory governance at village level as envisaged in the 73rd and 74th amendments, which too, has not seen the light of the day. Promised was a new Agricultural policy to make agriculture a more rewarding effort but all that we witness today is the sight of fields and hills being converted to concrete jungles. We were assured a new regional plan keeping in mind Goa’s identity, but there is no effort in that direction while a selected coterie of builders are having a field day with constructions mushrooming everywhere without basic infrastructure of electricity and water, parking, sewage and garbage disposal.To ensure regular, uninterrupted power supply we were promised that the whole of Goa would have underground cabling in five years. The government which had promised to make Goa plastic-free in three years now has just a year to fulfill that promise. Two years have passed and the promise that a garbage management system would be in place in 18 months is still a distant dream.
The government has miserably failed in its promise of 12 hours-a-day uninterrupted drinking water within two years. It has failed to appoint a Minority commission as promised. Contrary to assurance, the six-lane Zuari Bridge seems no more a priority. Let the government enlighten us as to how many Non-Resident Goans (NRGs) it has encouraged and in what manner, for Goa’s development, as promised in that Vision document.
In his first budget speech the Chief Minister had assured us that every Department would implement e-governance within 18 months. Sadly, even most government websites are dysfunctional or remain not updated for months. The ‘aam aadmi’ is now paying much more for all government services. Even the fee for registering a Power of Attorney which was earlier Rs.25/-, has shot up to Rs.500/-.It has been two dismal years of confusion, contradictions and controversies.
This may sound like a requiem but that, is the unfortunate ground reality. During the election campaign, Manohar Parrikar had promised us the moon but has reneged on almost every promise. He used every trick under his sleeve to usurp the office of Chief Minister. We thought he had learnt from his past mistakes and would turn a new leaf. Sadly, it was not to be. It is the same old Manohar Parrikar, puffed up with added arrogance and highly allergic to any criticism.
His one remarkable achievement is of having stifled the entire voice of the Opposition. Through his trademark tactics he has successfully leashed and grounded most Opposition MLAs. Surprisingly, to Parrikar’s credit goes the fact that many of the otherwise vocal and proactive NGOs have gone comatose. He has been playing to the gallery on the issue of Special Status but has done nothing to control the alarming and unacceptable levels of migration into Goa.
Despite having been given a clear mandate, Manohar Parrikar has been unable to deliver on the ‘Parivartan’ or grassroots change that he promised by way of Good governance and Zero tolerance to corruption. Rampant corruption continues unabated. Scams continue galore. What has changed is only the identity of the agents, brokers and beneficiaries. And we are without a Lokayukta till the Chief Minister finds another pliable one! We were assured clearance in three months of the garbage strewn all over. Apart from a cosmetic exercise on some roads, the garbage situation statewide has instead turned critical. He has not had the spine to deliver on his promise of banning plastic bags.
Escalating level of crime is a matter of grave concern. This government will never be forgiven for hushing up the January 14th 2013 rape of a 7-year old Vasco girl. On the other hand this government has gone hammer and tongs to nail Tarun Tejpal. This is testimony to the fact that nothing has changed in the political interference in police functioning.Personally, one of his election promises that swayed me was that Professionals and not Politicians would head Corporations and other bodies. To our utter dismay, he has burdened these Corporations with political cronies, some of whom carry woefully tainted records. He had promised to get rid of the Casinos in the Mandovi but having embraced that cash rich lobby, he now says they will go before he demits office. A joke at our expense!Various schemes launched to pay doles and build vote banks are in bad taste. Welfare measures cannot be treated as gifts of the ruling party but have to meet the needs of the deserving. Even on the Medium of Instruction (MOI) issue which he feigned was very close to his heart, he chose to make a volte face.While in the Opposition, Manohar Parrikar had always vociferously criticized the wasteful expenditure of Ministers and MLAs on unnecessary travel, especially the foreign junkets. He has, over the last two years allowed them to jet around the world recklessly, just to ensure that his Chair remains stable and intact.
The Chief Minister spent his first year narrating the wrong-doings of his predecessor. It is to be noted that all projects inaugurated by this administration over the last two years were planned and conceptualized by the earlier government – right from the state-of-the-art Central Library at Panaji to the Modernization at Goa Medical College; the Patto Plaza renovation and the South Goa Collectorate amongst others. The only project that this Government can take credit for is the Calvim Bridge. Infrastructure hurriedly built for Lusofonia games has to be evaluated after a monsoon or two!.
With so much hype on e-governance, Goa has yet to trim its bloated bureaucracy. Despite the current financial crisis, the Chief Minister is hiring thousands more to accommodate his party cadres. One of his first decisions on taking office was to hike the fees of his Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni from Rs five lakhs to a whopping eight lakhs a month. Despite this Atmaram Nadkarni continues to be the legal Messiah of the Mining Barons, Casino Lobby and the Builders.One has lost count of Manohar Parrikar’s endless U-turns. The vicious politics of caste and creed unleashed on this otherwise secular state is alarming. He is known for his autocratic rule with all democratic norms and traditions thrown to the wind. Over the last two years the Chief Minister has systematically scuttled the implementation of the RTI Act in the state while he has been scouting for yes-men pliable Information Commissioners.
Yes, we had a very pompous Carnival and an equally colourful Shigmo for the last two years. But this is the very sign of bad governance – when a State sponsors fun and frolic when its coffers are empty. The government has been on a borrowing spree. How long will it be able to sustain such lavish spending?
In his own (and Goa’s!) interest, Manohar Parrikar needs to chart the road map of governance for the remaining three years of his tenure. I would like to remind him here of his words in the budget speech of 26th March 2012: “Speaker Sir, the election results made me speechless, and now is the time for me to speak and assure the people, that the faith and trust they have put in us, shall be responded and honoured in multiple”
Mr. Chief Minister, you have not honoured the faith and trust the people of Goa reposed in you. The actions of your government speak for themselves. We were hoping that the ‘Parivartan’ would be for the better. But the question that torments the common man today is “Have we landed from the frying pan into the fire?”