Goemchea Rakhondarancho Awaz (GRA) – a movement started by a group of concerned citizens and NGOs which aimed to be apolitical in order work towards to cause of a better Goa is now believed to be hijacked by the Goa Su-Raj party. While some ex-members claim that this is the truth, current GRA executive members deny these claims and on the contrary state that the movement was to be hijacked by the RSS, therefore we took strong decisions. GoaChronicle.com investigates…Discord in the group has been doing rounds for some time now in Goa, however, not many in the know especially the initial supporters of the movement and some executive members of the GRA committee, expected that GRA would take up issues that seemed political and in some cases anti-national while deviating from the core issue being Goa and its people issues. The final coffin in this discord apparently was triggered by the participation of few members of the GRA at the Popular Front of India meet at Lohia Maidan recently and a letter sent by the General Secretary of GRA Floriano Lobo to online groups which showered praises on the controversial political party PFI – that has been accused of chopping a Christian professor hands in Kerala for a controversial statement against the Muslim community and is in fact been under the scanner of the Central Intelligence Agencies, though PFI has denied all allegations.
But while that is one side of the story surrounding the discord in GRA, the other side of the story surrounds the fact that some founding members of GRA were akin to using the platform of GRA to give wings to the RSS movement in Goa by bringing to fore Bharat Swabhiman members like Dinesh Waghela and Jayesh Tali of the Hindu Janjagruti movement.
GoaChronicle.com spoke to Fr Bismarque Dias, who was one of the initial founding members of GRA, he was also the Chairman of the movement before it was registered but has now left the movement. According to Fr Dias, “GRA was a movement meant at uniting Goans across Goa and the world to works towards a better Goa, but when Goa Su-Raj party through Florian Lobo and Antonio Lobo hijacked the party with their own set of agenda, many founding members including me decided to stay away from this movement. In fact these two now members of the officially registered GRA registered this group or movement without even taking the consent of the other founding members or general body.”
Yet another initial member John Philip D’Souza from the Village Groups of Goa echoed the same sentiment, “I have left GRA because it is becoming the mouth-piece of the agendas of two individuals Floriano Lobo and Antonio Lobo both from Goa Su-Raj party and they have been making very lose comments to the extent of attacking the Constitution of India and now even associating itself with the PFI meet. The original intent of the movement has been diluted with a political agenda, which is why many of the NGOs especially the Village Groups of Goa have also decided to gradually keep itself away from it. We have initially not spoken about this difference because we did not the people in general to think that this know famous crab-mentality syndrome of Goa, but Goa Su-Raj party has been misusing the GRA initiative and people need to know the truth.”
When GoaChronicle.com spoke to the president of GRA, Manuel Caldeira, he commented that for the last couple of weeks on account of personal commitments he has not been giving much time to GRA, but it is currently handled by Floriano Lobo and Antonio Lobo. But, I would like to add the discord and disagreements are a part of the any Goan organization, so such issues have happened in the past and we have to deal with it appropriately. But when asked about him wanting to resign from GRA, he did confirm that I have put in my resignation two times but it has not been accepted; and further commented that he had hoped to streamline the different groups under a common agenda but has not been successful.
Yet another executive member of GRA, who will be resigning from GRA this week, mentioned that he was disappointed and disgusted with the function of GRA, even the issue of funds collected by the GRA needs to questioned, he told GoaChronicle.com. He continued saying that it is sad that such a good movement is in serious shambles, since the now self-crowned leaders are more publicity hungry and want to bring good people in the fold on the pretext of the larger good and then ride on their shoulders. It is nothing but the agenda of Goa Su-Raj party.
Many founder members and those who have now left GRA told GoaChronicle.com that the GRA movement was the brainchild of the Pilerne Citizen Forum and the Village Groups of Goa, who are now not associated with GRA. Yatish Naik of PCF when contacted did not want to comment on GRA but said that he is officially not associated with GRA. But sources in PCF have told GoaChronicle.com that Yatish Naik and PCF members decided to stay away from GRA because it was being hijacked by Goa Su-Raj party.
However Advocate Antonio Lobo, executive member of GRA when contacted said that on the issue of being invited to speak at the PFI meet at Lohia Maidan, it was an invitation from one of GRA members Sayyed Itiaz, which we obliged and spoke on the issue of Liberation of Goa, I am not aware and still not aware of the controversial elements of PFI.
On the issue of comments that were seemed to be anti-national, I have not made any anti-national statements and not said any where that Goa needs to be another country. But I do refuse to call the liberation of Goa as liberation. I have called the so-called freedom fighters of Goa as traitors on a local TV channel; my statements are out in the open. Goa as per United Nations charter having been a colony was entitled to be given an opportunity to decide what it wanted. If we go as per the process of Liberation, the next step was for India to ask the people of Goa, do you want to be with India or do you want to be another country, this choice was never giving to us by the Indian Union.
With regards to Goa Su-Raj party hijacking GRA as told to GoaChronicle.com by some earlier members or existing members, both are distinct identities on their own with no relations to one another. The discord or the differences that occurred in GRA is not about some members going and registering the GRA without informing the others; but stemmed from the fact that some members were deliberately trying to bring in favoritism towards RSs by bringing some of their speakers to our meetings without even informing the core members of the committee, therefore we took a hard stance and some were not happy with it. We do have the support of Villagers Groups of Goa and other concerned citizens of Goa.
According to GRA secretary, Floriano Lobo, “Yatish Naik is a blue-eyed boy of BJP and RSS. There was a deliberate attempt being made to hijack the GRA movement by the RSS frontal organizations and as GRA and personally I am complete against the Saffron brigade or intent for Goa. Therefore in order to safe guard the interest of GRA we registered it as an organization. I would rather say we snatched the movement from them and went ahead to register the party. People like Dinesh Waghela and Jayesh Tali who are a part of frontal organizations of RSS were brought to share the dais of GRA without us core members even being aware of it, by some members such as Yatish Naik who wanted to give the BJP-RSS movement in Goa a push. For that matter even Advocate Satish Sonak is a RSS-BJP person, who tried to ensure that movement is hijacked. In fact let me narrate to you an incident in which at as part of respect paid to the late Dr Jack Sequeira we were to put a garland on his frame before the commencement of our event in Azad Maidan in Panjim, this good suggestion was brought up by Yatish Naik, but at the eleventh hour Yatish called up and told us to cancel this part of programme and we found it strange but went with it under protest; but when we later saw the RSS speakers on the dais, our doubts were further confirmed as the reason behind the withdrawal of the Dr Jack Sequeira garlanding. Also when meetings were called some these groups would want to know if Advocate Lobo or I would be attending and then refused to come, if we were attending.”
With regards to PFI issue, Sayyed Itiaz who is the President of the PFI in Goa is also a GRA member, we were invited to talk about the ills of Goa and we supported it by being present there. Whether or not PFI is controversial or not is not our concern, we got a platform extended to us from a member of GRA who has been taking up several issues concerning the ills of Goa; we decided to use it to create awareness. I have openly said that if any one gave me an AK-47 to gun down the ministers in Goa, I will do it, including the Chief Minister. And if people like Sayyed Itiaz could go give me an AK-47, I will be much obliged and do it. I have even openly said that I would spit in the face of BJP leader Advani, if he becomes the Prime Minister of India; because I will not allow the Saffron brigade to control the lives of the people in Goa. But PFI does in other parts I am not bothered, it is what they do in Goa that is more important to GRA. And we would stand at any platform that gives us an opportunity to make people aware of the corruption in Goa and issues surrounding it like the Special Status of Goa which has been pending for years.
On the issue of the President Manuel Caldeira putting in his resignation twice, Floriano Lobo stated, that Caldeira is going to be removed as the president of GRA as he has not mentioned to us at the beginning that he is a holder of a foreign national passport and not Indian passport.
Goa Su-Raj is not GRA nor GRA is Goa Su-Raj party, these are all stories spread the people who want to hijack the movement and give it a bad name, expressed Floriano Lobo.
While ex-members of GRA claim that GRA has been hijacked by Goa Su-Raj party, the executive members of GRA running the show who are also a party of Goa Su-Raj party denies these claims. The question though is which side of the fence does the people turn to when GRA was seen as an apolitical movement to fight for the cause of a better Goa.