Meanwhile administrative speed has slowed down; No decision of CM Parrikar is taken unless signed off by P Krishmamurthy and Ashok Kumar
GOA (Porvorim) On November 20, after many people of Goa, the opposition, NGO’s led by social activist Aires Rodrigues led a march to Manohar Parrikar’s private residence (his son’s house to be specific), Dr Narendra Sawaikar tweeted:
A statesman, person of integrity, 1st Goan to be a @DefenceMinIndia, envisioned & successfully executed infra projects, worked tirelessly to improve & raise life & education standard of Goans. As he is fighting his battle for life, some take pride in demanding his resignation.
This was perhaps the first specific admission by a senior BJP leader and a member of parliament that the Chief Minister of Goa was in a life threatening situation. In fact it took Health Minister Vishwajit Rane to say for the first time that Mr Parrikar had cancer. The government officially, has been playing ostrich, giving very interesting health updates like he has been improving (we sincerely hope he is and pray that he is). And there have been times when the reason given for his return visit to the USA, to a high end cancer treatment facility, within a week of coming back to India, was “to treat some indigestion”.
While this kind of abject tomfoolery could never have been Mr Parrikar’s intention, it was reflection of how paranoid the state BJP was, to admit, to a serious health crisis, which would force the party to look beyond Manohar Parrikar, going forward.
That paranoia hasn’t stopped. As soon as Narendra Sawaikar, inadvertently or otherwise, let slip that the Chief Minister of Goa was battling for his life, the state BJP President Vinay Tendulkar said, and for good measure, that the two other ailing Goa ministers, Francis D Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar would be attending the next Assembly session too (http://thegoaspotlight.com/parrikar-francis-madkaikar-to-attend-next-assembly-session-tendulkar)
The party as well as the government has clearly got itself into a complete and embarrassing mess, between trying to give the impression that the Chief Minister was recovering and taking administrative decisions, and the ground situation when he is actually not signing a single file and his decisions are being conveyed through his Principal Secretary, P Krishnamurthy or Secretary to CM Ashok Kumar, vide arrangement made official through a circular.
This arrangement has been in existence since Mr Parrikar left for New York for treatment in early March this year. According to official sources while this arrangement was working like clockwork since he was in New York, the same has become a source of a major bottle-neck, now that the CM is physically present in Goa. And this is due to a piquant situation that has cropped up. Some ministers are in touch with Mr Parrikar, sporadically, when the CM is able to have a conversation and during those short interactions, he does give his consent to certain decisions and projects. The Ministers then go and write on file ‘spoken to CM”, or “CM concurs”, or “approved by CM”. When files with such notings reach the senior levels of bureaucracy in departments for action, they are in turn marked back to the Chief Minster’s office to be ratified and the decision signed off by either Mr P.Krishnamurthy or Mr Ashok Kumar
Therefore it is clear that politically, the lack of clear strategy and direction regarding his health and the manner in which his health status should be made public has resulted in a cacophony of disparate and contradictory voices which has even led to deep resentment among certain section of the party as well as the allies. Meanwhile the forced administrative procedure to ratify and legalise the CM’s approval, during the CM’s prolonged illness and his lack of capacity to sign off on files, regularly for health reasons, has hugely slowed down the pace of clearance of files.
This has had an impact on many decisions in various departments and a spill over affect on the government’s functioning.
Charter arrivals have trickled, shack business is at a slump, Goa is conceding self goals with the negatives of garbage and rough taxi operators and oh yes, the Russians arent coming to the party too
GOA The chimes of good tourism are not ringing this Christmas. And the new year is hardly expected to bring cheer. The charter planes are not landing as much, the shacks have empty chairs and uncooked food and this situation has a further stench of rotteness, with garbage piling up.
Hopes that the 2018-19 charter season would be better than the last time has shattered in view of the worrisome trend of charter flights. A significant drop in arrivals of chartered passengers and a not very good number of domestic visitors in the very first two months of the tourist season has disappointed the stakeholders who have been looking for a profitable business.
Higher surge in sea level due to the impact of two cyclones – Luban and Titli –in the very beginning of October was an unlucky charm for Goa. Lunar influences triggered by the new moon occurrence also led to rise in sea level. These changes in the weather led to submerging of large tracts of the beach leaving many shack operators in distress.
Just when the traders thought things would be fine hereafter, drop in charter arrivals and fish import ban hit their business. Only 53 charter flights landed in Goa in October as against 153 recorded in October 2017, a drastic drop of 100 planes. November too saw a decline with just 230 charter flights flying down to Goa as against 318 in the corresponding month last year.
One of the biggest stakeholders Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) has attributed the poor arrivals to higher airport charges. “Its been many years that TTAG is demanding incentives like visa refund, brochure attribution, etc for charter operators but successive governments have not heeded to the demand as yet and the result is drop in charter flights. The charter companies are going for a better option as several other countries are offering lucrative incentives. Many airline companies have dropped Goa from its list,” lamented TTAG president Savio Messias.
Then TTAG President Francisco Braganca had also pursued the matter with the government but in vain. Three years ago, he too rued that charging higher deposits instead of providing incentives affected charter arrivals. Incidentally, 2015-16 was the very same season when Goa recorded 798 charter flights, lowest since 2010-11.
The total passengers visiting the resort State this season have also shown a declining trend compared to the last few seasons. Data with The Goa Spotlight shows at least 50 percent drop within a span of 60 days. In October the arrivals at the lone international airport was recorded at 11,193 while November saw 20,413 chartered passengers whereas October 2017 had 14,823 passengers and November 2017 recorded 45,184 passengers. “These figures show that Goa is losing its charm as an international destination,” Messias reacted.
What has added to the woes is massive drop in Russian arrivals, although the department is yet to release the data of country-wise arrivals. “Several tour and travel companies have complained that Russian visitors are far less than last year. They hardly have any Russian clients this time,” an official attached with the marketing section of the Tourism Department told this reporter.
It has also come to the fore that several high-end hotels are contemplating to retrench their staff at the backdrop of this poor tourism scenario. An assistant publicity officer with a decade old resort in South Goa informed that they had hired Russian interpreters as it expected Russian visitors but not a single client has checked-in till date. “Since majority Russian citizens are not well versed with English language and to ensure they do not face any inconvenience during their stay here, our management decided to hire interpreters. Unfortunately, we haven’t received one Russian client since the beginning of the season,” he complained while requesting to not disclose the name of the hotel as it would harm its reputation. The hotel interestingly sees selective personalities from the glamour industry enjoying their hospitality.
Another stakeholder, who a member of the Goa Hoteliers & Restaurant Association also echoes that some in the hospitality sector are on the verge of retrenching their staff. “The season has not been fruitful. It’s a tough time we are going through. We hope the coming days would be better but it doesn’t seem so. Some of them are forced to retrench their staff,” he said.
President of this Association Gaurish Dhond has blamed lack of promotion, global economy and frequent change of tourism policy for the decline in charter arrivals and overall tourists to Goa. “Exorbitant taxi charges, high hotel room tariffs, dirty beaches and so many issues are few indicators hampering the growth of tourism in Goa,” he rued.
Many have even complained that Indian tourists are also not in good numbers except in places at Calangute. The shack operators, who are also facing the heat of fewer tourists this season, have apprehended that if the trend continues Goa will lose the tag as international tourist destination. “The charter flights have dropped by more than 50 percent and possibilities are raised of further decline this month. TTAG has been demanding incentives for charter flights and till date nothing is done. Many problems are plaguing this industry. The authorities should hold discussion with every stakeholder and resolve issues permanently rather than giving opportunity to lose tourists,” President of Shack Owners Welfare Society Cruz Cardozo said.
Inacio Rodrigues, owner of shack located on the Cavelossim beach has echoed Cardozo’s views adding that fish crisis has also attributed to less tourists. “The fish price has shot up and this has reflected in the menus. The prices have almost doubled than last season. We are forced to increase the price of sea food and due to this, many tourists refrain from having meals in the shacks. But there is not option,” Cardozo said.
However, there are some shack operators who haven’t changed the prices in their menus hoping that tourists relish Goan food. “We are in loss by not increasing the fish price but at least our shacks are not empty. Goa is known for sea food and different types of fish, so let them enjoy the food,” Joe Cruz, owner of the shack at Baga beach said.
With no mega events planned this year-end, it is left to see if Goa draws that amount of tourists like the previous time.
PARALLEL LIVES: BJP & Parrikar
GOA: The current situation witnessed by Bharatiya Janata Party in Goa at the backdrop of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s battle with cancer, is a resul of the inorganic growth that the party witnessed since the year 1994, when it entered State Legislative Assembly for the first time.
The growth of Parrikar has been parallel to BJP and now with their leader bed-ridden for last nine months, the party is witnessing a serious crisis.
Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and State party president Vinay Tendulkar getting into a public spat over the issue of inducting two Congressmen in the party fold has indicated that the party without Parrikar is reduced to am indisciplined force in the State.
The story of BJP and Parrikar begins in the year 1989 when RSS began entrenching their roots in this coastal state with 27 per cent Christian population. Congress was ruling in the State while the regional party – Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party – was in the opposition.
Manohar Parrikar was then an active RSS pracharak of the North Goa district and played a major role during “Ram Janmabhoomi Movement” which saw swayamsevaks from Goa going to Ayodhya.
BJP’s foray in the State politics was marked with the emergence of leaders like Parrikar, Laxmikant Parsekar and the current Union AYUSH minister Shripad Naik and Narahari Haldankar, who for the first time got elected on the lotus Symbol. That was when BJP entered Goa’s political scene as a serious player.
“When Parrikar was contesting his first election in the year 1994 in the Panjim Assembly constituency, I had to go around and introduce him to the people. I used to tell people “meet Manohar, he is our boy,” recalls Subhash Velingkar, then RSS chief of Goa region.
The first postal address of Parrikar was “care of” Subash Velingkar as he was himself living in Mapusa town, 10 kms away from Panjim
Velingkar who is currently an arch rival of the ailing chief minister fondly remembers their first elections, when BJP was introduced to the electorate. “We contested elections by spending merely Rs 26,000 and Manohar got elected. Our rival spent Rs 50 lakh, but still he was defeated,” said Velingkar, who still considers Parrikar as his friend.
The former RSS chief’s differences with Parrikar began when the latter failed to keep up the promise of withdrawing grants to schools which had English as a medium of instruction, insisting that grants should be given only to schools which had Marathi and Konkani as the medium of instruction.
The BJP’s maiden entry in assembly was with four MLAs but Parrikar went to become Leader of Opposition in the year 1999 and chief minister in the year 2000 when he broke a faction of Congress.
He was paid with the same coin by his own legislators in the year 2005 when four of them resigned to join Congress. But by that time, Parrikar had become a name to reckon with.
Parrikar’s ultimate victory was during 2012 election when he defeated Congress government and gave his party majority on the floor of the House. The party became 21 member strong in a 40 member House.
“We have seen the growth of the party from scratch. We were being termed as Bhaji Pala party ,” said Parsekar who has been with BJP since its inception in Goa.
Parsekar who is currently upset over his own party for inducting his political rival admits that Parrikar was a major force for growth of the party.
“Parrikar was a major reason for the growth of the party and he was also a reason behind defeat of the party in the year 2017 when we were reduced in the House. It was Parrikar who had selected candidates,” said Parsekar, who, despite being incumbent chief minister was defeated in 2017 election.
While Parrikar has been credited for growth of the party, parallel to his elevation in politics, the political observers like Rajendra Desai, a senior journalist, held him responsible for the current situation of BJP in Goa as they don’t have a credible face, if Parrikar steps down.
“BJP was the cadre based party and had ideology till 1999. When Shripad Naik was defeated in Assembly election and Parrikar became the party’s biggest leader, he taught party all the short cuts to gain power,” said Desai, Editor with Marathi Newspaper Dainik Herald.
BJP never saw organic growth under the leadership of Parrikar, said Desai recalling how he went on taking leaders from other parties to form the government.
“What we see today is that BJP is scouting for leaders. They never thought of a situation when Parrikar might have to step down,” he said.
Desai said that the party always remained as the ‘Parrikar Janata Party’ and all other leaders who lost elections or fell out of favour disappeared.
“BJP had several credible leaders who could rub shoulders with Parrikar. But where are they now?,” he questioned.
Desai feels that the BJP will have to reorganize itself if Parrikar steps down.
BJP leader and former State Assembly Speaker Rajendra Arlekar admits that Parrikar’s contribution to the party in Goa is significant. “The party grew in Goa and he contributed because of his capacity, calibre and performance,” Arlekar commented.
But he refused that the growth of the party in Goa was entirely because of Parrikar. “What we consider is that we have grown in Goa because of our party, not just because of Manohar Parrikar,” he said.
The former Speaker, who was amongst the first BJP MLAs, said that Parrikar stepping down might result in a vacuum but for some time. “There will be a vacuum, if he steps down. But that would exist for certain time. Someone else will take over and the party will continue growing,” he said.
But for now, a party built around a personality, is absolutely rudderless, with no second line of leadership, which sadly has been trampled under the might of a solitary leader.