Margao: Trinamool Congress Goa desk incharge Kirti Azad said on Tuesday that the party would form the government in Goa in the next five years following the next state assembly elections. Responding to queries posed by reporters over its dismal performance in the last state assembly elections, Azad exuded confidence of the party gaining strength in the state. “We are going to do it. Everything will be in place. Rome was not built in a day,” he said. Pointing out that the TMC polled 8.7% votes in the last elections, Azad said, that the party’s performance was “800 times better” than that of Congress and BJP in their first few elections in Goa. “If you compare it to what BJP did in the first three elections and what Congress did in the first four elections, you will find that we have done 800 times better than them. They couldn’t even get 1% vote share,” he said. Azad was appointed as its Goa desk incharge of the party after its state president Kiran Kandolkar as well as senior functionaries of the party resigned from their posts soon after the state assembly elections. When asked to comment on the exodus of party workers, Azad said, “Good riddance. I wish them all the best for what they have done. At least we know who stands with us. Those who are going to be with us are not opportunists.” The cricketer-turned politician, however, chose not to respond to questions over whether the TMC would back candidates in the upcoming panchayat polls.
Complete the ward reservation process for Other Backward Classes, he demandsPanaji: Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo on Tuesday demanded the government to defer the panchayat polls by four months and to complete the reservation of wards for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as per the Supreme Court’s ‘triple test’ order.He said that the government cannot deprive the OBCs of their rights to contest the elections.“The OBC commission is defunct in Goa and there is a need to revive it; injustice should not be done to any category of the OBCs. Reservation is their right, and for this, the election ought to be postponed. We, as the Congress Legislature Party, demand that this election be postponed for a period of four months,” Lobo said.Addressing a press conference at the State Legislative Complex in Porvorim, the Leader of the Opposition said that the government should consider appointing an administrator for every village panchayat, which is facing election, as there is no provision to give extension to the outgoing panchayat body.“The administrator can take forward the day-to-day affairs of the panchayat,” he noted.Quoting a paragraph from the top court’s pan-India judgment that mandates triple test exercise for reservation of wards for OBCs, Lobo pointed out that the election programme has not been issued by the State Election Commission and claimed that if it is not notified then the elections can be postponed. If need arises, the government by law can issue an ordinance to postpone the panchayat polls, he maintained.“We are demanding elections in October by following all directions of the apex court,” Lobo stated.He said that the Congress party will write to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and the State Election Commission with a request to defer the polls. Meanwhile, Lobo alleged that in one of the wards of the village panchayat of Reis Magos delimitation has been carried out based on “religion” and not based on natural boundary or geographical continuity criteria.“Action should be initiated against the BLO and other concerned officials. People from one particular community have been placed in that ward. You cannot divide wards based on religion; the SEC ought to rectify it and re-do the process in a free and fair manner,” he said.
Panaji: With Congress president Sonia Gandhi calling for a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kashmir to Kanyakumari, the state Congress unit is expected to meet in the coming fortnight to begin the planning process for the nationwide exercise. The state Congress unit is also expected to take steps to strengthen the party at the state level. State Congress president Amit Patkar said that he has discussed various factors that could help strengthen the party at the grassroots level in preparation for the Lok Sabha elections 2024 in Goa. “A lot of things were discussed. Particularly about bringing the youth back into the Congress fold and to encourage them. Because, if the future of the youth has to be improved, then it is only Congress which can do this. All of us have given our opinions and suggestions on this issue,” Patkar said. Discussions were held with senior party leaders at the Nav Sankalp Chintan Shivir in Udaipur, Rajasthan. “The yatra will be held first in the states that are going to elections such as Rajasthan, Karnataka and others state and after that it will be held in Goa. We will start out meetings in Goa in the coming week. Meanwhile, we will start preparations for the corner meetings, the ground work for the yatra,” opposition leader Michael Lobo said. He said that aside from the preparations for the Lok Sabha elections, Congress will also work to rebuild the party. “The high command will also invite us to Delhi later to discuss ways to rebuild the party,” said Lobo. Interestingly, former chief minister and Margao MLA Digambar Naik , who is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), did not attend the Chintan Shivir. Former state party president Girish Chodankar also skipped the event.
Panaji: Congress’s Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao on Tuesday reiterated the party’s demand that chief minister Pramod Sawant must take a cue from the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding the double-tracking project and scrap the three linear projects. Rao also demanded that all the criminal cases filed by the police against the activists should be withdrawn. “The Pramod Sawant government must act in the interest of Goa. Don’t wait for the courts to decide on issues which the executive must,” said Rao. “Congress demands that the three linear projects be scrapped and all cases foisted on the activists be withdrawn.” Several FIRs have been filed by the government against activists who were part of the ‘Save Mollem’ campaign. The campaign began as a protest against three massive infrastructure projects — highway expansion, double-tracking of a railway line, and a power transmission line — that cut across protected forests. The demand comes just a day after the Supreme Court cancelled the environment approvals granted to South Western Railway for the Castlerock-Kulem double-tracking project. Congress state president Amit Patkar said it reflects badly on the state when people are forced to approach the courts seeking justice against “an insensitive government that acts on behalf of crony capitalists” instead of the voters. Patkar said Goans need to be vigilant as BJP’s double-engine government is keen to implement “anti-Goa projects” due to pressure from Delhi. Green activist and former naval officer Viriato Fernandes claimed that the state and Centre pushed the three linear projects during the Covid-induced lockdown in order to facilitate coal transportation.
Panaji: With medical experts indicating that a fourth Covid-19 wave could hit the state in the coming month, Congress urged the state government to ramp up preparedness and begin taking precautions. The party has also demanded that the state government immediately disburse Rs 2 lakh to the families of Covid victims and Rs 5,000 to traditional business owners who suffered. Goa Youth Congress president Varad Mardolkar expressed concern about the slow but steady increase in cases and said that the government needs to be alert instead of letting its guard down. Dean of Goa Medical College, Shivanand Bandekar recently said that there was a possibility of the fourth wave surfacing in Goa soon. “People have lost their lives due to government mismanagement in the past. A question needs to be raised on the current preparedness and what have they done,” Mardolkar said. He said that while the Pramod Sawant-government could spent Rs 5.6 crore on the swearing ceremony, it failed to release Rs 4 lakh to the families of Covid-19 victims as assured under the National Disaster Management Act. Congress blamed the state government for not taking adequate precautions during the previous waves.
Panaji: In a surprising move from the opposition camp, Congress MLA Altone D’Costa said that he is happy to hear that the state government could set up the IIT Goa campus in Quepem. D’Costa said the IIT-Goa campus will be an “honour and an opportunity” for the constituents of Quepem. Nearly six years after the IIT Goa was established, the search for a site to house the institute’s permanent campus continues. TOI recently reported that after vociferous protests at Shel Melauli, the government has shortlisted four sites — on the Kulti plateau at Poinguinim in Canacona, an area at Sanguem, the land at Quitol, where the defence expo was held in Quepem, and another site at Dharbandora. “The government of Goa is considering Quepem as one of the options for IIT Campus. I believe it’s an honour and an opportunity for us to have this prestigious campus in our area. If the government is willing, we will be more than happy to shoulder the responsibility,” D’Costa said. Plans in at least seven locations, earlier identified by the state government, had to be scrapped, either due to shortcomings found by the site selection committee or objections from locals. D’Costa’s open support is significant because in January 2021, Congress had supported the protesters in Melauli-Guleli who had objected to the IIT campus. IIT-Goa is functioning from its temporary campus at the Goa Engineering College, Farmagudi, since 2016. As per central government norms, the state has to provide at least 500 acres of land for the IIT campus, but considering that Goa is a small state, it was agreed that 300 acres would be adequate.
Panaji: The Centre’s move to increase prices of domestic LPG cylinders prompted the state Congress president to take a dig at BJP and its supporters. The party said that the Rs 50 increase in gas prices is a gift from the Centre to voters who voted for BJP in the recently concluded assembly elections. State Congress president Amit Patkar said that the entire country is suffering the consequences of the division of votes. “Congratulations to the 33% Goans who voted for BJP,” Patkar said. Patkar immediately took to Twitter after oil and gas marketing companies announced a hike in cooking gas prices, the second increase in two months. The price hike comes days after the price of commercial LPG cylinders was increased by Rs102.5 earlier this month. The latest price hike of domestic gas cylinders has come at a time when petrol prices are already beyond the Rs100 per litre mark and when diesel prices are inching near to the century mark. Later in the day, Patkar met with Taleigao block leaders and party sympathisers to discuss ways to revive the party and ways to also take up people’s issues.
PANAJI: BJP may speak about a Congress-mukt Bharat, but it does not want the party to disappear completely, Union petroleum and natural gas minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Friday, explaining that the country requires a healthy opposition, but it needs to pick up its act. Puri said that BJP is relatively confident of its victory in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as opposition parties, particularly Congress, have yet to get their act together. "We do not want Congress to atrophy or to completely disappear. We need an opposition," said Puri, speaking at the Times Network Leadership Summit at Goa Fest 2022. "But if we have an opposition, then the opposition has to decide whether it wants to be led by Rahul Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee or Arvind Kejriwal or Sharad Pawar." Given BJP's back-to-back victories in state assembly elections and the internal churn within Congress, which is seen as the principal opposition party, Puri was asked if his party considers the 2024 elections a "done deal". "In politics, nothing is a done deal. You should never be complacent, but considering that the party itself is in good shape, considering that we are winning one election after another, yes, I would say that the opposition needs to get its act together if it wants to post a credible challenge in 2024," he said. The Union minister took several digs at AAP, referring to the party as a political startup. Puri even suggested in jest that news channels should impose a form of tax or revenue on nascent political parties that are given prominent coverage. "People who don't pay you, like somebody starting a startup political system, and constantly featuring that individual or entity, they acquire oxygen. I would suggest you introduce a tax that if I (news channels) build you up then you (political parties) must, if they ever acquire the means of doing so, provide reciprocal support later. It's just a suggestion. You will be increasing your revenue," he said. Puri refuted suggestions that the Modi-government is focusing only on socialist schemes or the right-wing. He said the Centre's policies cater to every sector and segment in the country.
Panaji: Cricketer-turned politician Kirti Azad, who switched from Congress to Trinamool Congress (TMC) last year, met with the functionaries of TMC’s state unit to inform them in the wake of the series of resignations that an ad-hoc state committee will be formed in the coming week to restructure the party in Goa. Azad, along with TMC MPs Luizinho Faleiro and Derek O’Brien chaired two meetings on Friday at the party office to take stock of the spate of exits, including that of the state party president Kiran Kandolkar. Azad, a member of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, replaced Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra as the party’s Goa unit in-charge on Wednesday and immediately arrived in Goa to review the situation that the party finds itself in. The party tried Goa as a stepping stone to expand its national footprint but couldn’t win a single seat. Immediately after the results on March 10, many TMC office-bearers and candidates exited the party, including its state president Kiran Kandolkar. TMC then dissolved its Goa unit and announced an overhaul. “Kirti Azad said that the TMC will form an ad-hoc committee in the coming days to help restructure the party. The committee will be announced by May 10 to restructure the party. Their job will be to work on the ground, get in people and finally submit a full-fledged committee,” said a TMC functionary. Aside from the high ranking TMC functionaries, 25 other TMC members were present for the meeting. Azad and O’Brien are expected to stay in Goa for the next couple of days to stabilize the party and steer the selection of the ad-hoc committee.
Staff ReporterPanajiThe swearing-in ceremony of the Pramod Sawant government cost the state exchequer `5.59 crore, according to a government response to an RTI query.The ceremony was held on March 28, 2022 at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Stadium. The revelation came in as a reply to a plea filed under the Right to Information Act by social activist Aires Rodrigues.As per the documents obtained under the RTI Act, M/s Vinsan Graphics, Vasco Da Gama, which was assigned the management of the swearing-in ceremony event, submitted an invoice for an amount of `5.59 crore to the general administration department of the government.Goa Governor P. S. Sreedharan Pillai had administered the oath to the Chief Minister and eight cabinet ministers in the grand ceremony, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party J. P. Nadda and several other top leaders.As per that invoice submitted by the event management agency, amongst the 32 items billed for, stage decoration cost `1.87 crore, 500 chairs for special VIPs brought the expense of `3 lakh while 3500 chairs for other VIPs cost `8.75 lakh.Furthermore the reply stated that the lunch for 10,000 people brought the cost of `57.50 lakh while a special lunch for 500 VIPs cost `4.80 lakh and a special buffet for 75 VVIPs cost `5.66 lakh.According to the reply, the government spent `16 lakh on two arches erected at the venue; `14 lakh for sound system; `8.25 lakh for three red carpets; `19 lakh for erection of pandal and `68.40 lakh for 2400 cutouts placed on poles.Reacting to the whopping expenses made on the swearing-in ceremony, the Congress said the government is “looting” the public exchequer.Payment of various government schemes has been pending for months. Several basic amenities have been incomplete. Important infrastructure works have been kept on hold. Pre-monsoon works have also been put on hold. Salaries of temporary and contractual staff have not been paid. But the BJP government is busy looting the public exchequer, said Congress spokesperson Amarnath Panjikar.
Ponda: A week after TMC announced that it would restructure its Goa unit, the party appointed cricketer-turned-politician Kirti Azad as its in-charge for the state, replacing Lok Sabha MP Mahua Moitra. Party general secretary Abhishek Banerjee made the announcement on Wednesday. “Under the guidance and inspiration of chairperson Mamata Banerjee, TMC is pleased to appoint Kirti Azad as the state in-charge of the (TMC’s) Goa unit with immediate effect,” said Banerjee. Azad, a member of the 1983 world cup-winning team, had switched over to TMC from Congress last year. He was earlier a BJP MP from Bihar. TMC had appointed two party functionaries — Rajya Sabha MP Sushmita Dev and former MLA Sourav Chakraborty — as state co-in-charges for Goa to assist Moitra ahead of the assembly elections in Goa. Moitra was appointed Goa in-charge in November. Despite launching an aggressive campaign with lofty promises and after inducting several senior functionaries from Congress ahead of the assembly polls, TMC drew a blank in Goa. Immediately after the results were declared on March 10, many of the party’s office bearers and candidates began an exodus from the party, including its state president Kiran Kandolkar. TMC then dissolved its local unit and announced that it would reorganise the party. Many TMC office-bearers and candidates in Goa pinned the blame on election strategist Prashant Kishor and his Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC). Party functionaries and candidates claim that Kishor and I-PAC misled them and also failed to clear pending bills and dues to local vendors.For now, the party remains in disarray and Azad may have to work on rebuilding it in the state. “We wish him the best for all future endeavours,” said Banerjee.
Panaji: Congress wants former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane to refuse the lifetime cabinet status that was conferred on him in the run up to the February 14 assembly elections. A day after Rane made it clear that he would go by whatever decision the high court of Bombay at Goa takes on the matter, Congress Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao took to his twitter handle to make the party’s position clear on the issue. “For a man of Pratapsingh Rane’s stature, he should gracefully reject this #Cabinet status conferred. Neither does he require it, nor will it enhance his status. It sets a bad precedent and I’m sure it’s not permissible as per the law. So why suffer the humiliation of a #HC order,” Rao tweeted. The issue took centre stage after advocate Aires Rodrigues moved court challenging the constitutional validity of the notification issued in January bestowing lifetime cabinet status on Rane. The court admitted the petition during the last hearing giving Rane time to file his reply. Rane, who had initially shown inclination to contest the last election, had backtracked after Congress gave him the ticket for Poriem constituency. His daughter-in-law Deviya won from the constituency on a BJP ticket by a huge margin. A Congress functionary said that they have not spoken to Rane over this issue nor had he been consulted, but it would be ideal if Rane took a stand and returned the honour. “He is such a senior leader and had been the chief minister several times. We juniors in the party are in no position to tell him what to do. He should take the call keeping his dignity in consideration,” the functionary said.
Panaji: Hours after opposition leader Michael Lobo came under attack from town and country planning minister Vishwajit Rane “over the FIR filed” against his wife Delilah and him over allegations of hill cutting and tree felling at Parra, senior Congress functionaries in a counter attack termed Rane’s action “as an act of vindictive politics”. “Filing of FIRs against our MLAs CLP leader Michael Lobo and Delilah Lobo is an act of vindictive politics by the minister Vishwajit Rane,” Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress’ Goa desk incharge, tweeted. “You got an opportunity to govern Goa again for five more years, use that period judiciously, don’t use it to settle scores,” Rao said. Goa Pradesh president Amit Patkar in a series of tweets also took on Rane. “The random allegations against Congress will not help you in your intra-party politics. Nor does it benefit an elected representative. I will not stand by and listen to your baseless vish (poison),” Patkar tweeted. Targeting Congress, Rane had earlier said that the party’s vision for destruction of the state of Goa will never be a reality. “Don’t threaten this party and or me with your intimidation tactics,” Patkar said. Patkar claimed that he was briefly blocked by Rane after his tweets. In another tweet, Patkar questioned why Rane was ruffled and agitated. “Why so agitated and ruffled. Personal attacks are quite tasteless. But thanks for having the courage to unblock me,” Patkar tweeted.
Panaji: The recent inflammatory claims made by the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi are not just an attempt to disturb the communal harmony in Goa, but also a tactic to divert attention away from unemployment and inflation, said state Congress president Amit Patkar. Congress has condemned the statements by former state RSS chief and Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi convener Subhash Velingkar, who called St Francis Xavier anti-national. “In the last few days, we have witnessed attempts from certain quarters to disturb the harmonious relationship that existed in Goa since time immemorial,” said Patkar. Patkar said that Goa is known for its communal harmony and people of all faiths have “lived like one family for generations” and will continue to do so. “Raising such issues is just another diversionary tactic to temporarily remove focus from burning issues like unemployment, spike in prices, and other pertinent issues. Congress condemns such unwarranted statements,” said Patkar. Congress has also asked Goans to remain alert against “repeated attempts” in the coming months to create communal disturbances. The Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi’s “awareness campaign” titled ‘The Goa Files’ commences on May 3, and will continue for 20 days. It claims to focus on the inquisition, the role of St Francis Xavier, and the harassment meted out to new converts. “Let’s focus on Goa and giving the future generations a state that has made us proud,” said Patkar. He also said that Congress will continue being the voice of Goa. Opposition leader Michael Lobo and Aldona MLA Carlos Alvares Ferreira have demanded strong action against the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi. Former sports minister Francisco Xavier Pacheco has demanded that the police book Velingkar under the NSA for allegedly trying to create communal disharmony. He has filed a complaint with the Colva police station.
Staff ReporterPanajiMaking a clarion call to workers in the unorganised sector to form a union to fight for their rights in view of the upcoming May Day, the All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) has called for taking a pledge to take forward the struggle of the working people and to oppose the dilution of labour laws in the name of ease of doing business.AITUC has decided to hold a mass morcha on May 1 in the city starting from the KTC bus terminus at 9.30 a.m. which will culminate into a mass meeting of workers at the Church Square opposite the Garcia Orta Garden (municipal) Garden.Addressing the media on Friday, AITUC general secretary Christopher Fonseca along with its state president Prasanna Uttagi and Suhas Naik said, “Let us on this 75th year of Independence of our nation pledge to defend our Constitution – its basic principles of sovereignty, democracy, socialism and secularism.”The union has underlined the need to oppose the rampant corruption, unchecked price rise of food items, increase in prices of fuel and LPG cylinders, rising unemployment, increasing poverty, rampant violation of labour laws and the government’s failure to provide social security to the unorganised labourers.AITUC members said that the saga of May Day Strike 1886 needs to be told repeatedly for the benefit of the young generations of workers joining the ranks of the toiling people adding, “The 19th century brought about a sea change on how the mankind was producing its means of livelihood in Europe and the United States of America.”AITUC said, “The formation of All India Trade Union Congress the first central trade Union of workers in India on October 31, 1920, in itself was a momentous event that was a culmination of sporadic struggle all over the country under the British rule and which not only gave an impetus for further struggles of the workers to improve their working conditions but strengthened India’s struggle manifold.”
Panaji: Congress on Friday demanded action against the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi for trying “to disturb communal peace in Goa” by making denigrating statements against St Francis Xavier. Opposition leader Michael Lobo urged chief minister Pramod Sawant to “act strongly” against the leaders of the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi, particularly former RSS sanghchalak and Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi convenor Subhash Velingkar. Congress alleged that the Aghadi’s “awareness campaign” titled ‘The Goa Files’ that commences on May 3 is aimed at disrupting the peace and communal harmony in Goa. “Goa is known for its deep-rooted love, peace and harmony amongst its people irrespective of caste, creed or religion. Goencho Saib, St Francis Xavier, is revered not only by Catholics, but people of all faiths from within the state as well as the neighbouring states and the world over,” Lobo said. Aldona MLA Carlos Alvares Ferreira said that legal action needs to be initiated against Velingkar and the group. Velingkar described St Francis Xavier as anti-national as the Christian saint worked for the interests of the Portuguese colonialists and thus cannot be called ‘Goencho Saib’. He said that a campaign ‘The Goa Files’ will be launched to make bhagwan Parshuram the ‘Goencho Saib.’ Meanwhile, Former Sports minister Francisco Xavier Pacheco has demanded that the police book Velingkar under the NSA for allegedly trying to create communal disharmony. He has filed a complaint with the Colva police station.
Margao: Senior BJP functionary, Shaikh Jina, on Thursday, condemned the statements made by some members of the Popular Front of India (PFI) against chief minister Pramod Sawant after the latter voiced his opinion in favour of banning the organisation. Addressing reporters at the party’s South Goa district office in Margao, Jina said, “BJP government led by chief minister Pramod Sawant has done a lot of work for the upliftment of poor people, but has never discriminated on the basis of religion. PFI is promoting communal disharmony.” PFI had taken exception to Sawant’s statement that the government will never allow religious conversions in the state and asking people to be vigilant. Jina also accused PFI of being a ‘B’ party of Congress. He further pointed out that while BJP has always supported Urdu-medium schools run by Muslim organisations by providing “lot of funds,” such support was never forthcoming during the Congress government.
Panaji: The churn in TMC continued with state party president Kiran Kandolkar quitting the party on Wednesday. Kandolkar blamed poll strategist Prashant Kishor and the Indian Political Action Committee (I-PAC) for the party’s debacle in the state assembly elections. TMC’s candidates for Mapusa, Siolim and Porvorim also quit the party along with Kandolkar, saying that they saw no hope for the party in Goa. All of them said that their supporters and workers had asked them to ditch the TMC. TMC’s Mapusa candidate Tarak Arolkar, Porvorim candidate Sandeep Vazarkar, Siolim candidate Leo Dias Aldona panch member Rajesh Pirankar and former Aldona sarpanch Deepak Naik quit the TMC along with their supporters. Three days earlier, 32 TMC members quit. Kandolkar challenged Kishor’s claim that he was not involved in the state legislative assembly elections and said that Kishor’s main objective was to defeat Congress and permit BJP to win. “I feel that Kishor came to Goa only to blackmail Congress and to divide the opposition vote,” Kandolkar said. “He wanted to show Congress that they should not take him lightly. He was using Goa to show Congress the kind of damage he can do. If he came to Goa, he came to help BJP win not to defeat them. Kishor distanced himself from Goa’s polls well before the elections and claimed that he was in Goa just for a holiday. However, TMC Rajya Sabha MP Luizinho Faleiro clearly stated that Kishor played an instrumental role in convincing him to leave Congress and join TMC. Kandolkar said that he has held 17-18 meetings with Kishor about election strategy. “If anybody has failed, it is not TMC or the candidates, it is I-PAC. And I-PAC was steered by Prashant Kishor and he is the one who misled Goa, the voters and everyone. I am making an allegation against Prashant Kishor, let him clarify,” Kandolkar said. Despite a media blitz and grand promises, TMC failed to win a single seat. Kandolkar said that in hindsight he realised that he and other party workers made a mistake. “We were quiet for many days but we have finally made our decision because we know that there is no future for TMC in Goa. I spoke to AITC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. It was a one-hour-long meeting and I realised that TMC does not have any clear plans for Goa.”
Panaji: The state cabinet on Wednesday approved lifetime cabinet status to former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane, and sanctioned 18 personal staff for him. The former Poriem MLA has been Goa CM for a record six terms. On Monday, the high court of Bombay at Goa admitted a petition challenging the state government’s decision to confer lifetime cabinet status on Rane. Before granting the status, the cabinet did not obtain financial sanction from the finance ministry as required under the rules, as the resolution involved financial expenditure, petitioner Aires Rodrigues stated. Rane was speaker between 2007 and 2012, including when BJP was in government. Rane was first elected on an MGP ticket in 1972, and has since won more than 10 elections. He joined Congress in the late 70s and remained loyal to the party since. Before the 2022 polls, he backed out of the election after his candidature was declared by Congress, thus paving the way for his daughter-in-law and BJP candidate Deviya Rane, wife of health minister Vishwajit, to win the Poriem seat by a record margin.
Staff ReporterMapusaAll India Trinamool Congress’ Goa unit president Kiran Kandolkar along with the party’s three candidates in the recent state assembly polls and workers on Wednesday resigned from the party.Kandolkar held political strategist Prashant Kishor responsible for the defeat of the party in Goa and said that instead he helped BJP to win the elections.Addressing media persons, Kandolkar, in the presence of the party’s Mapusa, Siolim and Porvorim candidates Tarak Arolkar, Leo Dias, and Sandip Vazarkar respectively, panchayat members and other party workers, announced about his exit from TMC as he had resigned from its primary membership along with others in Mapusa. Kandolkar said that the decision was taken after consulting his supporters.Stating that the TMC has no future in Goa, Kandolkar said, “I don’t blame TMC but hold Prashant Kishor responsible for the humiliating defeat in Goa as the party had given responsibility to him. He may be the biggest political strategist but he has failed in Goa.”He further said, “Prashant Kishor’s entire strategy has failed. First Aleixo Reginaldo had joined but he failed to retain him in the party which was a loss for us. Secondly, he failed to bring Mamata Banerjee to Goa during the last leg of election while another party’s national leader had come and campaigned in Goa.”Kandolkar further said that Kishor came to Goa to blackmail the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi adding, “He wanted to show that if he is not taken then he would reduce the Congress vote share.The opposition was divided so BJP is ruling with 33% of vote share while 67% vote share was divided for which the opposition and Prashant Kishor is responsible. He eventually ended up helping BJP to form government again in Goa.”Replying to a question whether he had made a mistake, Kandolkar said, “We did what we felt was right at that time. It’s human to commit a mistake. We did commit a mistake.”Kandolkar also accused IPAC Company of cheating Goans and said, “Huge bills of taxi drivers, volunteers who were employed during polls, printers, hoarding and others were not paid.”Kandolkar further said that the opposition parties have failed to unite which has resulted in victory of BJP.Commenting about his future plans, Kandolkar said that he would work for people as an independent and not float a new party.It may be recalled that on Tuesday, Colvale ZP and Tivim candidate Kavita Kandolkar, who is Kiran’s wife, along with 32 supporters, had resigned from the party.
Party to restructure Goa state committeePanaji: On a day when Colvale Zilla Panchayat member Kavita Kandolkar, a member of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party and wife of Goa TMC president Kiran Kandolkar, quit the party along with all her supporters from the Thivim constituency, the All India Trinamool Congress announced on Monday that it has decided to restructure the entire Goa state committee with immediate effect.Kavita Kandolkar was also a candidate of the TMC party during the recently-held Goa Assembly polls. She has resigned from the primary membership of TMC, along with sarpanchas, panchayat members and her supporters. She has submitted her resignation letter to the Goa TMC president.Kandolkar said she took the step following pressure from her supporters, as the Mamata Banerjee-led party was not accepted by the people of Goa at the Assembly polls.She also said that I-PAC and its then mentor Prashant Kishor had failed to fulfill the promises made before the elections on behalf of TMC.“People who have not been paid their money for various services during the elections were coming to my residence asking for the pending dues. This is also one of the reasons why I quit the party,” she said.Meanwhile, the TMC has said that it has decided to restructure the Goa state executive committee with immediate effect. “A newly-constituted ad hoc committee will be announced shortly,” the party tweeted. “We take this opportunity to reiterate our solemn commitment towards working for the people of Goa and their well-being,” the party said.
Staff ReporterMargaoSavio D’Silva took charge as president of South Goa district Congress on Wednesday alongside party leaders, who said the main aim of the party is to rebuild itself from the grassroots level.D’Silva took charge of the post in the presence of GPCC president Amit Patkar, working president Yuri Alemao, senior vice-president M. K. Sheikh, GPCC secretary Everson Vales and party leaders Moreno Rebello, Captain Viriato Fernandes and Beena Naik.Speaking to mediapersons, D’Silva said, “With the ‘Chetna Yatra’ going on, we are meeting all the hardcore Congress workers and we are rebuilding the party. We want to get our organisation in place starting from the booth level before the 2024 elections. Booth-level committees will be strengthened; we will do our best with the young team along with the blessings and advice of the senior partyleaders.”Patkar said it was unfortunate that the party failed at the Assembly elections, but added that rebuilding it is now the main goal.“67% of Goa wanted a change this time. But when the result came and the new government was formed, people realised it was a mistake that happened because of the split of vote. We missed several seats in South Goa as well. But now measures to revamp the party are an important step for which I am thankful to the party president Sonia Gandhi who has trusted us with this work of building the organisation for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the 2027 Assembly elections. I would like to give an assurance that this time we will be fighting differently,” he said.As regards rumours that senior party leaders were unhappy with young faces at the helm, Patkar said “Just because we are young it does not mean that the senior leaders are being sidelined. We have the energy but to take the organisation building in the right direction, we need the experience and expertise of senior leaders and party workers who made the party foundation strong.”
Panaji: The high court of Bombay at Goa has admitted the petition challenging the state government’s conferring of lifetime cabinet status on former Congress chief minister Pratapsingh Rane. Before granting the lifetime cabinet status, the cabinet did not obtain financial sanction from the finance ministry as required under the rules, as the resolution involved financial expenditure, petitioner Aires Rodrigues stated. Rodrigues further stated that the cabinet hurriedly resolved on January 6 afternoon that it would confer lifetime cabinet status with all consequential benefits to those members of the assembly (present/past) who have served for at least eight continuous terms as MLA and have held position of chief minister (to suit only Rane). Thereafter, in a hurry, a notification was issued and published on January 7, Rodrigues said. The BJP desired to nominate Rane’s daughter-in-law Deviya Rane as its candidate and Congress candidate Rane was capable of toppling its applecart, he submitted. “As a quid pro quo, Rane did not contest the elections, and instead announced that he was retiring from politics, just a few days before the last date for filing nominations making it impossible for INC to field a suitable candidate at such short notice,” he said. The high court has adjourned the case to May 2.
Panaji: The move to arrest Gujarat’s independent legislator Jignesh Mevani on “flimsy grounds” is yet another instance of BJP stifling the right to free speech, which is enshrined in the Constitution, said Congress on Monday. Opposition leader Michael Lobo, who chaired a special meeting of the Congress legislature party, said that Mevani’s arrest is similar to Hitler’s crackdown on those who opposed Nazi policies. “We can see collapse of democracy. We can see that freedom of speech has been throttled. I think all Goans need to think about this incident and realise that such things can happen in Goa,” said Lobo.
It is against holding panchayat elections on party linesPanaji: Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo on Monday slammed the BJP-led state government for not releasing financial assistance to the beneficiaries under Griha Aadhar, Ladli Laxmi and Dayanand Social Security schemes.He claimed that the beneficiaries of Ladli Laxmi have not received the doles since 2018.Lobo also said that the monthly financial assistance under Griha Aadhar Scheme has not been released for the last three years.“There are applications, sanctioned under Griha Aadhar and Laadli Laxmi schemes in 2018, still pending for payment. Even the beneficiaries of the Dayanand Social Security Scheme are awaiting the regular monthly financial assistance for months together,” he claimed.Lobo said that the government must release the financial assistance to needy people under these schemes on priority as beneficiaries especially differently-abled people are struggling to pay their medical bills.“The governance is continuous process. Though the current BJP government has not started any work, it has to release financial assistance under these schemes to the beneficiaries on priority,” he demanded.He said that the Congress party has been insisting that the state government release this money before taking up any other work.Lobo said that some beneficiaries of Laadli Laxmi Scheme have got married and even have a child now, but are still waiting for the money.Meanwhile, CLP leader Michael Lobo said that Congress is not in favour of holding panchayat elections on party lines.“We have full faith in the state election commission. The commissioner is a senior official and will not accept manipulation in the process,” he said.Lobo also warned that the Congress party will approach the High Court if the government tries to manipulate the delimitation process.
Canacona: Congress’ Chetna Yatra, which was organised to strengthen and rejuvenate the party, saw differences come to the fore causing much embarrassment to the new state party president, Amit Patkar. Congress general secretary Janardhan Bhandari walked out of the meeting after seeing Mahadev Dessai, a former GPCC secretary who had revolted against the party and contested on a TMC ticket for the 2022 assembly elections. This left many of those present fuming. What was meant to be an effort to build the party at grassroots level, ended up raking major differences. Dessai said that he worked for Congress for the past 17 years, but was denied the party ticket at the last moment, which prompted him to contest on the TMC ticket. He said that he remains a strong Congress worker, adding that Patkar had invited him to the meet. Like me Bhandari too didn't fare well in the 2022 elections, Desai remarked. The anger was visible even on Sunday. In a sharp reaction to Dessai’s blaming Bhandari for his failure to win the Canacona seat, block president Pralay Bhagat termed the statement as unwarranted and uncalled for.