And then there were three: Ex-Advocate General to pilot to hotelier, the Goa MLAs standing by Congress

The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 15-09-2022 | 10:40 pm

And then there were three: Ex-Advocate General to pilot to hotelier, the Goa MLAs standing by Congress

Barely one kilometre apart, the scenes at the Goa unit headquarters of the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress in Panaji appeared to be a study in contrasts on Wednesday. While neither of the party offices is spacious, both have a small dais with a space for about five chairs that is used for press conferences and other events.At the BJP office on the Atmaram Borkar Marg, the dais fell far short of accommodating senior Goa party leaders, including Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, and eight Congress MLAs who crossed over to the BJP prompting this induction event.At Congress House on the busy Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, however, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president, Amit Patkar, sat comfortably on the stage with what was left of the party in the Goa Legislative Assembly – its three MLAs, including former Goa Advocate General Carlos Ferreira, commercial pilot Yuri Alemao and hotelier Altone D’costa. All of them are first-time legislators and Christians. While Ferreira represents the Aldona constituency in North Goa, Alemao and D’costa represent Cuncolim and Quepem constituencies, respectively, in South Goa.Putting up a brave face at the press event on Wednesday, Patkar, 38, who took over as the GPCC president following the state Assembly polls earlier this year, said despite losing eight defector MLAs, including the former Leader of the Opposition, to the BJP, the party still had moral ground, ethics and integrity. “I am very proud of our three MLAs. It’s not that they did not face any pressure. They may not talk about it. But they have stood by their principles, values and sanskaar…” he said.In July, a week after the first attempt of the Congress MLAs at defection was foiled, the party leadership had got its five MLAs flown to Chennai for a weekend “to avoid pressure tactics and threats.” For a merger of the legislature party with any other party, the consenting MLAs have to be present before the Speaker, even as at least two-thirds of a party’s MLAs have to consent to the merger to circumvent the anti-defection law. With five MLAs away, the defectors could not have gathered eight of the total 11 MLAs to proceed with their plan.The All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao had then said that the Congress MLAs were in Tamil Nadu, where the Congress is part of the ruling DMK-led alliance, “voluntarily to avoid incessant attempts, continuous calls, pressure tactics and threats” made by the BJP. The five MLAs that the Congress had cloistered in Chennai included Sankalp Amonkar and Rudolfo Fernandes, who later joined the group of eight defectors.One of the Goa Congress’s prominent legal faces, Ferreira, joined politics ahead of the Assembly polls, and contested from Aldona seat on the Congress ticket, defeating the two-time BJP MLA Glen Ticlo with a margin of 1823 votes.Perhaps the most affable of the Congress’s 11 MLAs, Ferreira had garnered the goodwill even of his political opponents. However, in July when the defection pot came to a boil, his name too had surfaced among the would-be defectors. His was perhaps the most “shocking” name on that list. While both their names did the rounds in July, Ferreira and D’Costa eventually stayed with the Congress.“In the art of war you always pretend you are attacking one side and you attack the other side,” Ferreira said. “This is our chance to revive the Congress party. The rot has been removed. The rot can finish your whole house but now we will come together to revive the party.”Ferreira conceded that the affidavits that the election candidates had filed pledging their loyalty to the Congress had no legal standing. He however pointed out that the July 2019 defection of 10 Congress MLAs was still under litigation since a petition filed by former GPCC president Girish Chodankar seeking their disqualification has been pending in the Supreme Court.Yuri Alemao, son of ex-Congress MLA and minister Joaquim Alemao, said he was not present on that January day when the oath-taking event was held by the Congress poll candidates at various places of worship, but it was his conscience that had kept him back in the grand old party.He said the defection was unfortunate, saying “You can defy physics, gravity but how can these guys defy God? That is a million dollar question. They don’t even fear God… We have promised the people that we will stay loyal for five years and people voted us… I am not a commodity that can be purchased. There is no price tag on my head. There have to be values. You have to be loyal to the party.”Alemao’s seat Cuncolim, won by his father in 2002 and 2007, has traditionally voted for the Congress. The example of his predecessor from the constituency, Clafasio Dias, who was among the 10 Congress defector MLAs in 2019 and lost the 2022 election as the BJP candidate, may also have acted as a deterrent for Alemao.D’costa had pulled off a surprise victory by defeating Quepem MLA and ex-deputy CM Chandrakant Kavlekar on his turf. Kavlekar, former Leader of the Opposition, had led the 10 Congress MLAs’ defection in 2019. D’costa trounced him by 3,601 votes.Choosing to stick by the Congress, D’costa said, “Destiny takes you to your destination. I stand by principles and beliefs which were taught by my parents, my elders. I am grateful that the Congress party gave me a ticket to contest. I was just an ordinary person among the party’s workers. The people of Quepem voted for me as a Congress candidate and I can still face them. I am a principled, god-fearing person and I am really satisfied I stood by my principles. We will stay with the party and work towards its growth.”

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Delhi Confidential: Namaste, Shalom
The Indian Express | 1 hour ago | 29-11-2022 | 03:40 am
The Indian Express
1 hour ago | 29-11-2022 | 03:40 am

To welcome the cast and crew of Israeli TV series Fauda at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa, Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur tweeted in Hebrew on Monday. “I am pleased to welcome @FaudaOfficial stars @liorraz and @issacharoff to #IFFI53 in India! Israel and India share a special relationship,” he posted (roughly translated from Hebrew). Thakur also shared a clip of himself and Fauda actor Lior Raz jumping from the bus. In response, Israel’s Ambassador to India, Naor Gilon, tweeted: “…You look one of the team and should probably consider joining Fauda”.NOTA Worry NotedAmid reports that BJP is in a comfortable position in Gujarat, the party leadership appears to be more worried about voter turnout as the D-day nears. The main topic of discussion in BJP’s internal meetings to review preparations is to bring down NOTA votes. Votes for NOTA came third in nearly 115 seats in 2017 elections. There were unsuccessful attempts from the party to shift the category from last position on electronic voting machines (EVMs) because, according to BJP leaders, many people cast their votes on the last line, considering it as number one on the list. Party leaders admit that the biggest task for its cadre and booth-level workers is to get voters out on polling days instead of “being overconfident” about BJP’s victory.Guns Trained on TrainsEven as the government highlights Vande Bharat Express trains as its major achievement, the train seems to invite more Opposition scrutiny. Several MPs, mostly from the Opposition camp, are armed with questions on the Vande Bharat for the ensuing Winter Session of Parliament. The drift of most of these questions, it is learnt, are to catch the government on the wrong foot and to get it revealing something not so complimentary about the celebrated train set.

Delhi Confidential: Namaste, Shalom
ExplainSpeaking | A profile of Gujarat’s economy before elections
The Indian Express | 17 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 11:40 am
The Indian Express
17 hours ago | 28-11-2022 | 11:40 am

ExplainSpeaking-Economy is a weekly newsletter by Udit Misra, delivered in your inbox every Monday morning. Click here to subscribeDear Readers,The western Indian state of Gujarat is set to hold elections for the state Assembly this week. Since the time of India’s freedom struggle, and especially because it was the home state of leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, Gujarat was always a politically significant state in India.However, two factors have further bolstered the state’s political heft over the past three decades.One, the Bharatiya Janata Party (or the BJP) has won all the Assembly elections since 1995. And barring a brief period between late 1996 and early 1998, the BJP has been in power in the state. To be precise, it has ruled without break since March 1998. Another five year term would mean that the BJP will extend its unbroken run to 29 years. For perspective, the longest that any party has been in power in a state was the 34 years (1977 to 2011) that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) governed the eastern state of West Bengal.Two, the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, too, lends importance to Gujarat. Modi had served as the Chief Minister for 12 years, winning three Assembly polls in the process, before shifting to Delhi. During Modi’s tenure as the Chief Minister, the notion of a so-called Gujarat model of development or economy gained traction.Here’s a look at the different aspects of Gujarat’s economy — factors such as unemployment, per capita income, inflation etc. that often play a crucial role in influencing the voters.#1: Overall size of the economyNo matter which way one calculates, Gujarat is one of the biggest economies in the country. Table 1 details the top 6 states with the highest “net State Domestic Product (SDP)” in India. Think of the net SDP as the GDP equivalent at the state level. The Table also mentions Kerala even though it is not a state of comparable economic output just to provide a more complete picture; often the “Gujarat model” has been contrasted with the “Kerala model”. Between the seven states mentioned in the data tables, one can also get a fairly wide geographical spread.Data shows that Gujarat is the fourth-largest economy with a net SDP of Rs 14.6 lakh crore. However, this valuation of economic output is based on current prices. If one were to remove the effect of inflation and look at the “real” net SDP (column 3), one finds that Gujarat becomes the second-largest economy.It is also worthwhile to look at where Gujarat stood relative to the other big states in 1994-95, just before the BJP started its dominant phase. It is interesting to note that at that time Gujarat was even behind UP and West Bengal in terms of overall output. The only state that has actually outdone Gujarat is Karnataka, which was much smaller in terms of economic output in 1995 but has since rapidly grown to become the third-largest economy within India.#2: Per Capita IncomeWhen India’s economy recently overtook the economy of the United Kingdom to become the fifth-largest economy on the planet, it was pointed out that despite this achievement, the UK’s average income levels were twenty-times more than India’s.Table 2 attempts to place the same states in terms of per capita income in order to understand the average level of economic prosperity in a state.Now, Karnataka turns out to be the state with the highest per capita income, closely followed by Gujarat. This is not to suggest that there are no states in India with higher per capita income — Delhi, Goa Sikkim etc. do score higher — but among the bigger states, this ranking still holds.Population size of different states imply that UP lags far behind most states in India despite having a much higher overall output. Kerala also shines.When compared to how things were in 1995, it is interesting to note that Gujarat was, even then, the second-richest in terms of average incomes.And while holding on to the 2nd rank is no mean feat — Tamil Nadu, for instance, failed to stay at the top — it is Karnataka’s rise that has been far more phenomenal.#3: Unemployment rateTable 3 details the unemployment rate (per thousand people) in Rural and Urban areas for the biggest state economies in India (plus Kerala). Gujarat had one of the lowest unemployment rate among all the states and well below the national average.However, unemployment rates have gone up almost across the board since 1999-2000 — the time since when the BJP has had an unbroken streak in the governance of Gujarat. In particular, in Gujarat, both rural and urban unemployment rates have doubled since 1999-00.#4: Inflation rateJust as Gujarat had the lowest unemployment rate among all the big economies, it also had the lowest retail inflation rate among them in each of the past five years (barring UP in 2017-18). Gujarat’s retail inflation rate (that is, based on Consumer Price Index or CPI) was also lower than the national average for each of the five years (see Table 4). Of course, this data does cover the past few months of 2022-23.High inflation has become a global menace and has resulted in voters throwing out incumbent governments to express their anger. However, Gujarat has performed relatively well on this metric for the majority of the current term.#5: WagesWhen it comes to earning daily wages, workers in the agricultural sector as well as the non-agricultural sector of Gujarat earn considerably less than their counterparts in the other big states. Table 5 details how Gujarat not only pays less than the other big economies but also pays less than the national average.#6: InfrastructureChart 6, sourced from the Central Electricity Authority, shows the level of per capita power consumption in the seven states under consideration. Power consumption is a very good proxy for overall infrastructure in any economy. Gujarat’s per capita consumption is the highest among these states and, barring Punjab, the highest among large Indian states.#7: Health metricsTypically it is found that financially better off economies tend to have inhabitants who are physically better off. That’s because a rich state with richer inhabitants and a larger government capacity, can invest in improving the health and wellbeing of its inhabitants.However, it is on these metrics that Gujarat falters the most.Table 7 details Gujarat’s standing on a whole host of crucial metrics. But be it infant mortality rate or the maternal mortality rate or the prevalence of anaemia among infants and pregnant mothers or even indeed the number of beds in government-owned hospitals, Gujarat lags behind the other big economies. In particular, it lags considerably behind the Kerala achievements.That was a summary of where Gujarat stands relative to the rest of the country as well as relative to where it was in the past.Share your views and queries at udit.misra@expressindia.com.Lastly, do watch the latest episode of The Express Economist. This time it features Dr C Rangarajan, former RBI Governor and Chairman of the Finance Commission, on the state of the Indian economy.Stay safe,Udit

ExplainSpeaking | A profile of Gujarat’s economy before elections
‘Defection betrays democracy and our Constitution’
Times of India | 1 day ago | 28-11-2022 | 04:00 am
Times of India
1 day ago | 28-11-2022 | 04:00 am

Margao: Noted lawyer and writer Uday Bhembre on Saturday said that defections by elected representatives amounted to betrayal of democracy and the Constitution, and voiced his disapproval over the refusal of the courts to decide on such defections. Earlier this year, on February 24, the Goa bench of Bombay High Court upheld the speaker’s order dismissing two petitions seeking disqualification of 12 MLAs who left their respective parties and joined BJP in 2019. In September this year, 10 Congress MLAs left the party and joined BJP. “This is a betrayal of democracy. And when betrayers get elected as people’s representatives, they can easily betray the people to whatever extent,” Bhembre said.He made these remarks while speaking at the award presentation ceremony instituted in memory of the late Chandrakant Keni. “The anti-defection law is so simple and short. The moment one resigns as MLA, he stands to be disqualified the very moment. He has betrayed his voters. When power goes into the hands of such betrayers, what allegiance will they have towards democracy and democratic principles. They aren’t willing to adhere to democratic principles nor to the Constitution of India, the 10th schedule of which prohibits such a betrayal,” Bhembre said.He said that while there were attempts at weakening the media and judiciary, the two important pillars of democracy, refusal of the court to decide the case of defection that came before it was worrisome for democracy.

‘Defection betrays democracy and our Constitution’
Konkani Bhasha Mandal’s Petul at Quepem on 26 th November
Times of India | 1 day ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:22 pm
Times of India
1 day ago | 27-11-2022 | 07:22 pm

Konkani Bhasha Mandal organised its unique programme titled Petul on Saturday, November 26 at Main Auditorium of Government College, Quepem. The programme was held in association with Government College, Quepem. Graced by Dr Ashwini Jambhekar (Kulkarni), Director, Audyogik Tantra Shikshan Sanstha, Pune, Jess Fernandes, Senior Writer, Sister Severine Pinto, Headmistress of Holy Cross Convent, Ambaulim and Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Principal of Government College of Quepem. During the function 9 educations institutions from different parts of Quepem, Sanguem talukas namely Sharada English High School, Curchorem, Union High School, Sanguem, New Education Institute, Curchorem, Tiny Tots Primary School, Quepem, Sharada Kala Sadhana, Curchorem, Government Middle School, Ambaulim, Utkarsh High School, Rivona, Sarvodaya Primary School, Curchorem and Holy Cross Institute, Quepem performed on specially choreographed childrens’ songs from ‘Shanni Masti’ at the function. An exhibition of books and CDs produced by Konkani Bhasha Mandal. The President of KBM Anwesha Singbal said that through its multiple events in the state, we have realised that a huge demand for Konkani material exists. The sales of this material and music CDs have shown that people are eagerly seeking material in Konkani for children that is well produced and attractively priced. In the absence of this, they reach for material in English or other languages and do not help children to grow in Konkani."

Konkani Bhasha Mandal’s Petul at Quepem on 26 th November