Panaji: Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Goa unit has praised the Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann for initiating action against his own minister in a bribery case and has termed it as a historic development.Addressing the media, vice-president of AAP’s Goa unit Valmiki Naik said that Mann acted so as the party was founded with an aim to eliminate corruption.Valmiki said, “This is the second case of this nature, the first being in Delhi after AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal took action against a minister in 2015 for demanding bribe.”While AAP’s chief spokesperson Rajdeep Naik said, “AAP is the only party that keeps its promises made to the people. Within two months of forming the government, AAP has fulfilled every promise made before the elections. Apart from that, AAP government walked the talk on ‘zero tolerance to corruption,’” he added. Vice president Sandesh Telekar Dessai said, “Corruption is widespread in Goa. There are many cases filed against people but when opposition parties expose corruption, only then relevant departments initiate action.”Meanwhile, reacting to the announcement made by the Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte that the government is contemplating to hold an EDM festival in Goa, AAP leaders claimed that these festivals are a big source of corruption.
Amit Palekar is its president, Pratima Coutinho is nominated as women’s wing headPanaji: In order to strengthen the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) base in the state, Goa desk in-charge Atishi announced a new committee wherein the lawyer-turned-politician Amit Palekar, who was the party’s chief ministerial face for the recently concluded assembly elections, has been appointed as president of the state unit.Speaking to the media here, Atishi said the new executive committee will be headed by Amit Palekar, while party MLAs Venzy Viegas from Benaulim and Cruz Silva from Velim will be its working presidents.Former Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee president Pratima Coutinho, who had joined the AAP in the run-up to the assembly elections, has been nominated as the president of the party’s women wing for the state.Anoop Kudtarkar has been nominated as the president of the party’s youth wing in Goa and senior leaders Valmiki Naik, Surel Tilve, Ramarao Wagh, Cecile Rodrigues, Sandesh Telekar and Patricia Fernandes have been appointed as the vice-presidents.Rajesh Calangutkar, Ritesh Chodankar, Gerson Gomes and Premanand Nanuskar have been named as organisation secretaries, while former Goa Shiv Sena chief Upendra Gaonkar, who joined the AAP just before the Goa assembly polls, is the general secretary and Francis Coelho is the general secretary of campaign and communication and Mahadev Naik is the campaign committee president.Anil Gaonkar has been made the president of the Scheduled Tribes wing and Jamesh Fernandes the head of the minority wing.Party leaders Prashant Naik, Lincon Vaz, Roque Mascarenhas, Roshni Gawas, Mahesh Satalkar, Uday Salkar, Abhijit Desai and Mario Cordeiro are joint secretaries (organisation building), while Dr. Vibhas Prabhudesai and Neri Fernandes are joint secretaries (coordination).Prasad Shapurkar, Sunil Loran and Vishnu Naik will be part of the state unit’s legal cell, she said.Atishi said, “Goans have reposed faith in the AAP and voted for us which led to the victory of Viegas and Silva,” and added that “in 2027, AAP will form the government in Goa and for which we have already begun preparing.”Rajdeep Naik has been appointed as the chief spokesperson of the party unit and Mahadev Naik, Valmiki Naik, Surel Tilve, Pratima Coutinho, Alina Saldanha, Ramrao Wagh, Cecille Rodrigues and Siddhesh Bhagat as spokespersons with Suchita Narvekar as the media in-charge.
PANAJI: After dissolving its Goa working committee, the Aam Aadmi Party has appointed Advocate Amit Palekar as its president and its two MLAs Venzy Viegas and Cruz D'Silva as working presidents. Palekar, the party's chief ministerial candidate for the 2022 elections came in third in St Cruz. The party has nominated six vice presidents- Valmiki Naik, Surel Tilve, Ramrao Wagh, Cecille Rodrigues, Sandesh Telekar and Patricia Fernandes. Naik said the new team is a fantastic mix of experienced party workers and youth. AAP's Delhi legislator in charge of Goa, Atishi said the the party has restructured its working committee to ready itself for the next assembly elections in the State in 2027. She said AAP will win the elections in 2027 and is starting work now itself. Besides winning the elections, the party is the voice of people and will regularly raise issues affecting citizens. Rajesh Calangutkar, Ritesh Chodankar, Gersom Gomes, Premanand (Babu) Nanuskar have been appointed organisation secretaries. Upendra Gaonkar has been appointed general secretary (frontal organisations) and Francis Coelho general secretary (campaign and communication). Pratima Coutinho has been appointed as its women's wing president, Anil Gaonkar as ST wing president, Adv Anoop Kudtarkar as its youth wing president, James Fernandes as its minority wing president and Sarfaraz Ankalgi as its minority wing vice president. Prashant Naik, Lincoln Vaz, Roque Mascarenhas, Roshini Gawas, Mahesh Satalkar, Uday Salkar, Abhijit Desai and Mario Cordeiro have been appointed as joint secretaries (organisation building). Dr Vibhas and Neri Fernandes are joint secretaries (coordination) and Adv Prasad Shahpurkar, Adv Sunil Loran and Adv Vishni Naik have been appointed to the party's legal cell. Besides two MLAs the party also has a ZP member.
Panaji: Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has strongly criticised the steep hike in export duty of mining ore by the BJP-led central government saying it has “essentially sounded the death knell for the mining industry in Goa”. “Most of the ore in Goa is low-grade, for which there was no export duty. However, with a sudden imposition of 50% duty, it will not be financial viable for the low-grade ore to be extracted,” AAP functionary Amit Palekar said. Stating that this leaves the entire industry at the mercy of a very few private players, Palekar said this was yet another act by BJP to turn over our natural resources to a select few. “Since the ore cannot be exported, the proposed auction of mining leases in Goa will be monopolised by a couple of private companies who already have ore beneficiation and steel manufacturing capacity. BJP has essentially thrown Goa from the frying pan into the fire, as there will be no control over this private lobby which will destroy the backbone of Goa’s ecology and economy,” Palekar said. AAP lashed out at chief minister Pramod Sawant “for not doing anything to resolve the mining imbroglio in Goa”, despite being elected from the mining belt himself. Mining operations have stopped in Goa since March 2018. “We have seen Goa being threatened by numerous decisions and projects of the central government, including CRZ, Mhadei and coal. This is yet another decision that will destroy Goa further. Sawant is seen shuttling back and forth from Delhi every week,” he asked.
Panaji: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday dissolved its Goa working committee in a bid to make a fresh start after the February 2022 assembly elections wherein it won two seats. AAP’s Delhi legislator and in-charge of Goa unit, Atishi announced the party’s decision stating the state working committee for Goa will be ”reorganised soon”. "With expansion of the party in mind, we are formally dissolving all existing organisation structures in the state and will constitute a new committee to bring well-meaning and like-minded people into the party fold,” Atishi’s statement read. She said AAP peformed well during the last Goa assembly election, securing two seats. “It is the excellent work of the party that has led to AAP winning two seats in Benaulim and Velim,” she said. Shortly after the assembly election results, AAP’s former state convener Rahul Mhambre had resigned from all party posts citing “personal reasons”.
Cites personal reasons for quittingNew Delhi: Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has resigned citing “personal reasons” and submitted the resignation to President Ram Nath Kovind, a senior official said on Wednesday.Baijal, a 1969-batch IAS officer, was appointed as the 21st Lieutenant Governor of Delhi in December 2016 after the sudden resignation of Najeeb Jung.His over five-year tenure was marked by frequent run-ins with the AAP dispensation over administrative jurisdiction and governance-related issues, including one in which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his ministers staged a dharna at the L-G office in 2018.“He (Baijal) has submitted his resignation to the President,” the official told PTI.Baijal’s resignation comes at a time when the terms of the three civic bodies are ending and the Centre has issued notification for the unification of the three civic bodies which will be followed by the elections.In Delhi, three subjects – land, services and law and order, directly come under the purview of the Lieutenant Governor. The matter regarding control over the services department is still in the Supreme Court.The major face-off between the L-G and the AAP government took place in June 2018 when Kejriwal along with his ministers – Manish Sisodia, Satyendar Jain and Gopal Rai – held a dharna in the L-G office, alleging that IAS officers posted with the state government were not cooperating with elected representatives and non-approval of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme by Baijal.The tense relations between the L-G and the AAP dispensation became less frequent after the Supreme Court ruling in July 2018 that the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi is bound by the “aid and advice” of the Delhi government.
Margao: AAP on Tuesday hit out at art and culture minister Govind Gaude for his criticism of the Charles Correa Foundation (CCF) and for his remarks that it cannot dictate terms to the government on issues concerning the Kala Academy. AAP requested Gaude to take a delegation of artists and CCF members to witness the work the government has done in the premises. If Gaude fails to act within 10 days, AAP has warned of staging a protest in front of Kala Academy along with the artistes. “We were not expecting such a statement from the minister, who is also an artist. The then-government renovated the Black Box in the Kala Academy premises eight to 10 years ago, and it has since lost its beauty. Many artists consider Kala Academy to be a second home. As a result, we don’t want to lose the Kala Academy’s beauty in the name of renovation,” AAP said. “In the midst of the pandemic, Gaude took on the renovation work at a cost of Rs 50 crore as the elections approached, without inviting tenders, and that leads us to smell something fishy here,” AAP vice president Valmiki Naik said. AAP vice president Surel Tilve dared Gaude to first show what he has done as a minister for art and culture minister in the last five years. “He has been the president of Ponda’s Rajeev Kala Mandir for many years and has yet to fix the sound system there,” he said. “The Kala Academy belongs to kalakars (artistes and art performers). No kalakar will tolerate any sinister designs of the government pertaining to Kala Academy,” Tilve said.
Staff ReporterMargaoThe Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) staged a protest in Margao against the rising fuel and LPG prices and the general inflation with a demand to the government to bring down the prices and provide relief to the common man.AAP leaders including Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas held banners and raised slogans at the Margao municipal garden, criticising the BJP government for its indifference towards the rising prices.Speaking to the mediapersons, AAP leader Patricia Fernandes said, “While the Goa Dairy, a major milk producing co-operative, hiked milk prices by `4 per litre recently, domestic LPG gas cylinder price crossed `1,000. Many people have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic.”AAP vice-president Surel Tilve said that his party had warned against the hike after the BJP formed the government and demanded corrective measures at the earliest. “People with disabilities, senior citizens, and people living with HIV have not received their monthly assistance from the government for the past four months. Many of them are entirely dependent on the government’s monthly doles. However, the BJP government is busy spending crores of rupees on its events.”The AAP also questioned the silence of BJP’s Mahila Morcha on the rising prices of essential commodities including that of Smriti Irani who had protested against inflation when she was in the opposition.
Special CorrespondentPanajiWelcoming the Supreme Court’s decision to cancel the clearance of the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife for the double tracking project in Goa, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Tuesday said that the project should now bescrapped altogether.Addressing a press conference in the city, the AAP leader Valmiki Naik said that the Supreme Court-appointed centrally-empowered committee should be thanked for recommending to the apex court that the clearance for the project should be withdrawn as the said project is “inefficient, unjustified and destructive”“In fact, the decision of the Supreme Court vindicates the people of Goa,” he added, pointing out that the people of Goa, especially the Goan youth who united against the said project were finally proven true, while the Bharatiya Janata Party’s government was exposed.Naik also said that the clearance by the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife was given in haste, through the online hearing, during the lockdown related to corona pandemic, without undertaking any ground assessment and fact-check.The AAP leader also appealed to the BJP government and South Western Railways to entirely scrap the project, without applying for new clearance.Another AAP leader and former MLA Alina Saldanha said that the particular decision of the Supreme Court will protect the biodiversity in the Western Ghats. She also expressed concern over the impact of the double tracking on the people residing along the existing railway track.The state vice-president of AAP Pratima Coutinho said that the BJP government is anti-people and takes decisions which harm the people of Goa. “The double-tracking project was planned by the BJP government to help the coal lobby,” she alleged.
Panaji: AAP on Tuesday demanded the scrapping of the double-tracking project entirely and requested that the Supreme Court inspect the double-track route that passes through the villages of South Goa. Former minister and Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha welcomed the SC’s verdict to cancel the environmental approvals granted to South Western Railway for the Castlerock-Kulem double-tracking project. “Now the question arises about the impact of the SWR double-track project that passes through the villages of South Goa. What effect will it have on the people and the environment of South Goa?” AAP vice president Valmiki Naik praised the youth for fighting for the cause and making it a national issue. He recalled that the NBWL had granted the permission in a rush during the online meeting without first investigating the ground reality. “The project has been labelled inefficient, unjustified, and potentially destructive by the CEC. It also stated that it is unnecessary for a dot-sized state. The project was never intended to benefit Goans, and the SC’s decision proved us all correct,” AAP vice president Valmiki Naik said. AAP vice president Pratima Coutinho requested the CM to withdraw the cases filed against activist for protesting against the project.
Panaji: Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Calangute candidate for the 2022 assembly election Sudesh Mayekar joined BJP on Saturday along with his supporters. Mayekar had quit AAP three days ago. Prior to joining AAP, he was the former BJP general secretary of the Calangute BJP mandal. BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade welcomed Mayekar to the party. Mayekar said, “We will work together for the party and once again win the Calangute constituency.” He added that he will contest the upcoming panchayat elections and will work towards resolving the various issues facing the constituency including power. “Calangute MLA Michael Lobo did not have any interest to resolve the issues of the people when he was in BJP,” Mayekar said Tanavade, meanwhile, said that the party has already started work for the panchayat and Lok Sabha elections. “We will all work together to win the panchayat elections,” he said.
Colva/Margao: Following a chargesheet filed against them by the Railway Police Force (RPF), Vasco, environment activists, Abhijit Prabhu Dessai, Diana Tavares, Freddy Travasso and Vikas Bhagat on Saturday attended the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) as per the summons. Apart from the four activists who attended the court, the chargesheet has also named one Rocky who is yet to be traced. The accused have been charged under Section 146, 147 and 174(a) of the The Railways Act, 1989. The case against the accused is that on the night of November 1, 2020, more than 200 persons assembled at a spot between Chandor and Margao railway stations and squatted on the tracks with candle lights opposing the double tracking project of the South Western Railway. The protesters dispersed from the site only the next day at 5.15 am due to which trains had to be detained at Vasco, Sanvordem and Kulem railway stations. JMFC Ankita Nagvenkar took up the case on Saturday, during which the Railway officer Shankar Naik informed the court that public prosecutor was unable to attend the hearing. All the four accused were furnished with a copy of the complaint. JMFC asked all the accused to furnish a personal bond of Rs 10,000 and adjourned the matter for June 16 for substance of accusation. In a show of solidarity with the protestors facing the chargesheet, 30 to 40 supporters of the agitation along with Congress’ Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao and AAP’s Velim MLA Cruz Silva gathered outside the court, and vowed to carry on their battle against the three linear projects. Speaking to reporters, advocate Stanley Om Rodrigues representing one of the accused, said that out of thousands of protestors who had participated in the agitation at Chandor, only five have been made the accused. “Among those present for the protests on November 1, 2020, included a former chief minister, the then leader of Opposition, MLAs, activists who have now become MLAs, but none have been booked. This is selective targeting of my clients who happen to be the environment warriors, and are a hindrance to government plans of bringing in projects detrimental to the environment,” Rodrigues said. Pointing out that the protests were against the three linear projects, the matter pertaining to which was being heard by the Supreme Court, Rodrigues said that while the recommendations given by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on the Tamnar project were accepted by the court, he hoped for justice in the other two projects as well. “We are now getting justice from the apex court; however, on the ground, poor activists have to face the brunt, even as the big fish are not brought before the law,” Rodrigues said. Abhijit Prabhu Desai said their battle was for the cause of the environment and for future generations and that they wouldn’t be cowed down by such criminal cases. While Alemao said that the people will continue to oppose the three linear projects and that the Congress party was with the people, Silva reiterated his as well as his party’s (AAP) support to the people’s agitation against the projects.
Margao: As CM Pramod Sawant on Saturday expanded his cabinet by inducting three more MLAs into his cabinet, it became even more evident that the Bhandari community card used by AAP to whip up caste frenzy ahead of the polls did not find resonance with the people.. Significantly, it’s the Kshatriya Maratha samaj that has replaced Bhandari samaj in terms of dominant numerical strength in the assembly with as many as seven MLAs belonging to the warrior class getting elected. The dominance of the Maratha class finds a resonance in the cabinet as well, with a fourth of the cabinet belonging to Kshatriya Maratha samaj. While chief minister Pramod Sawant belongs to this caste, health minister Vishwajit Rane and the newly inducted Sanguem MLA Subhash Phal Dessai also belong to the Kshatriya Maratha samaj. If that renders the dominion of the Marathas in the BJP government obvious, the fact that the president of the ruling party, Sadanand Shet Tanavade, also hails from the same caste, further extends the sphere of supremacy of the "shahannau (96) kuli Marathas" in Goa’s politics. The Bhandari community constitutes nearly 30% of the Bahujan samaj classified under OBC, followed by the Kshatriya Maratha samaj. Political observers point out that the Bhandari community comprises 30% of the Bahujan samaj which is roughly 60% of Goa’s population. However, political observers stressed that the success of the Kshatriya Maratha Samaj candidates in the February 2022 assembly polls had nothing to do with caste politics. “Rather, it’s largely due to their personal charisma and popularity that they won,” lawyer and political commentator, Vallabh Dessai, said. “Take for instance Subhash Phal Dessai in Sanguem which is an ST-dominated constituency. He won on his personal merit as people across communities voted for him. In Poriem and Valpoi constituencies, as is obvious, the Khashes hold influence over the voters on account of the feudal sentiment that prevails in the two constituencies. In the rest, the victory of Maratha candidates had nothing to do with caste appeal.” Appeal to caste identity wasn’t a part of the political discourse in Goa until AAP set the narrative on a tangent after it promised that its chief minister, if it forms the government in Goa, would be from the Bhandari samaj. “The Bhandari card was a new political concept AAP tried to introduce in Goa with the objective of dividing Hindu votes,” said political commentator, Rajendra Kakodkar. “The experiment failed as the open appeal on caste lines didn’t find favour with the voters.” Rahul Mhambrey under whose leadership AAP contested the polls – he recently resigned as the state unit president – has acknowledged that declaring a Bhandari candidate as its CM face was a mistake that cost the party dearly. “It’s just impossible to appeal to the Bhandari samaj for votes in Goa,” Dessai said. “Though there has been emergence of new leaders among the Bhandari samaj of late, there are certain unchallenged leaders in certain constituencies, like for instance, Ravi Naik in Ponda, who hold considerable sway over the community. The equations change when it comes to such caste leaders-politicians.” The rise in numbers of the Maratha legislators from just three in the last legislative assembly to seven in the current one has led some political observers to ascribe the outcome to the “backfired” Bhandari card. “The bottom line is that,” Kakodkar said, “it is foolhardy to think that by appeasing the Bhandaris, and thereby antagonising the majority non-Bhandari Bahujan samaj, a party would fetch votes. The model was bound to fail in Goa.”
Panaji: Lashing out at the BJP government’s price hike trend (fuel, cylinder, water, etc), AAP on Wednesday demanded that the government reject the latest order of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC), which permitted a rise in power tariffs by 8% for domestic consumers. "BJP has previously stated that power tariffs will not increase in 2022. This assertion was jumla, as usual. JERC has now approved an increase of 8% for the fiscal year 2022-23,” AAP vice-president Valmiki Naik said. The Aam Aadmi Party also demanded that the state government withdraw the free water distribution scheme and rollback revised water tariff in view of the high water bills. “Ordinary people are receiving water bills ranging from Rs 40,000 to 1 lakh as a result of the revised water tariff. Previously, 15 units cost Rs 1.50, 15-50 units cost Rs 5.50, and 50-65 units cost Rs 12. They now charge Rs 3 per unit for 0-15 units, Rs 9 for 15-25 units, Rs 15 for 25-40 units, and Rs 15 for 40-50 units,” All India vice-president of AAP youth wing and state coordinator Siddhesh Bhagat said. “If the government does not roll back the revised tariff, the AAP will stage a protest,” Bhagat said.
Panaji: Minister for art and culture and Priol MLA Govind Gaude himself painted the road near Amona-Khandola bridge to alert motorists of a new speedbreaker following accidents at the spot. Stating that the speedbreaker is soon after a turn near the bridge, Gaude said the PWD erected the speedbreaker without any indication to motorists following which two accidents were brought to his attention. He said one of the victims was under observation at the Goa Medical College and another two injured when they fell off their scooter. “People aren’t aware about the speedbreaker so they travel at their usual speed. When I was informed about it, I rushed to the site with the sarpanch and painted white strips on the speedbreaker so that people can be cautious,” Gaude said. Meanwhile, AAP hit out at the government for failing to ensure road safety and Gaude, a minister, having to paint the speedbreaker himself due to the government’s inaction. “Gaude has been made a minister and has the entire government apparatus at his disposal, but what does he do now? He’s coming down on ground level and painting a speedbreaker, which isn’t his job. His role is to ensure that the work is completed,” AAP functionary Cecille Rodrigues said. “Previously, chief minister Pramod Sawant indicated that his officers do not listen to him. Now the BJP’s own minister is coming on ground level to paint the speedbreaker. If government staff refuse to obey their minister’s orders then Gaude should resign,” she said. On the other hand, workers of Revolutionary Goans also started painting the speedbreakers with white strips at Assagao and Badem, where accidents have taken place.
Colva: AAP’s Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas said that an important factor for Goan engineers not taking up road contracts is because of the commission they have to pay. Addressing a press conference, Viegas questioned why the number of Goan engineers, who in the past used to bid and win government tenders, had dropped. “Interacting with them, we have realised that commission is one prime factor that’s holding them back, giving others a chance, which leads to inferior development,” the Benaulim MLA said He said that his party wants to adopt a commission-free governance from his constituency and in the neighbouring constituency of Velim, which is represented by AAP MLA Cruz Silva. This module has started in Benaulim and will also continue in Velim he said and will surely spread to other constituencies in Goa, Viegas said. Citing an example he said hot mixing of roads in his constituency has started. “Along with the people in the vicinity, I meet public works department (PWD) officials along with the contractor. Then overseeing the works is carried out by the constituents in their localities, which means empowerment to people,” the AAP Benaulim MLA said. “This is corruption-free, commission-free governance and we have taken the step towards it.” “In my constituency there are lots of incomplete works. I have interacted with the contractors and their woes are the same. Having paid 10 to 15% commission does not allow them to complete the works because of loss,” the Velim MLA said. Silva said that it is only when the commission business stops that contractors will be able to complete their works within the stipulated time and also provide quality works.
Youth wing demands rollback of prices which have increased in last 5 daysPanaji: The youth wing of Aam Aadmi Party on Sunday staged a protest at the city bus stand againstthe skyrocketing fuel and cooking gas prices in the state.Their members demanded the government to rollback prices on fuel and cooking gas instead of declaring a movie tax free.Goa state Aam Aadmi Party Youth wing led by Siddesh Bhagat along with general secretaries Roshni De Silva, and Ayesha Khan and other AAP members were present at the protest. This was the first protest of the youth wing of Aam Aadmi Party ever since it was constituted.Expressing anger against the fuel price hikes, the All India vice president of AAP youth wing, Siddesh Bhagat said, “In the last five days the increase in fuel price and cooking gas has made life very difficult. During election month’s the government kept the rising petrol and cylinder prices stable to secure votes. And now that the elections are over, the government is slowly increasing the prices every day”.LPG cylinder in Goa has now crossed the Rs 1000 mark and petrol price near the Rs 100 mark per liter.He also hit out at Chief Minister Pramod Sawant of being “insensitive and heartless” to the sufferings of inflation-hit masses. “Today from eatables to medicine everything has become expensive. The prices of commodities are expected to increase further when petrol price will touch upto Rs 120 per liter. MLAs and ministers dont pay for fuel and cooking gas so they are least bothered about the sufferings of the common man”, Bhagat said.He said the government was befooling people with the promise to provide three free LPG cylinders to each household and at the same time backstab them with price hike on two daily used fuels.“I want the chief minister to swear to people on the day of his swearing-in ceremony that he will stand besides every Goan and rollback fuel prices. This fuel is not only used by us but also BJP workers. There is no different categories of petrol used by others and BJP workers. Their workers also use the same fuel like us”, Bhagat said.Speaking further the veteran actor and director Rajdeep Naik said Goans have been betrayed, duped and deceived by BJP. “The price hike is done deliberately to recover the money which they spent on every voter during the election time”, he alleged.The AAP youth wing general secretary Roshni De Silva, also said that with elections over, the interests in voters and their woes has also ended.
MARGAO: Responding strongly to statements made by chief minister designate Pramod Sawant in reference to the speech made by Arvind Kejriwal over Kashmir Files, AAP state convener Rahul Mhambre advised Sawant to “focus on Goa and the missing governance in the state instead of behaving like a social media troll of BJP.” “It is unfortunate that caretaker CM of Goa has got riled up over the statement made by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal that the movie Kashmir Files be made available on the YouTube platform so that it could be available for free viewing by everyone. While Sawant and his party are leaving no stone unturned to promote the movie, no attention is being paid to the plight of the Kashmiri Pandits who suffered under the militancy in the Kashmir valley,” state convener Rahul Mhambre stated. AAP functionary Amit Palekar said that in the past 30 years since the incident happened, parties like BJP and Congress have only indulged in politics over the issue.
Staff ReporterPanajiCongress working president and Nuvem MLA Aleixo Sequeira will be the Opposition’s candidate for the election to post of state legislative assembly, which is slated to be held on March 29.Congress party MLAs and legislators of Aam Aadmi Party met at the assembly complex in Porvorim and decided to field Sequeira for the said post on behalf of the Opposition.Revolutionary Goans Party MLA Viresh Borkar and Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai did not attend the meeting.However, Congress MLA Digambar Kamat claimed that both informed telephonically that they would agree to the candidate selected jointly by the Congress and AAP MLAs.“At the meeting, the MLAs proposed my name. I will stand for the election to the Speaker’s post,” Sequeira said, interacting with media persons after the meeting.Michael Lobo informed that Sequeira has filled in the form for the Speaker’s post and that the Nuvem MLA will file the nomination papers for the same on Monday.AAP’s Venzy Viegas said that despite having different ideology, the AAP will take on the ruling party unitedly with Opposition MLAs in the assembly as ‘Team Goa’ for the betterment of Goaand Goans.Sequeira, a former minister, had retired from politics in 2017 after being denied nomination by the Congress.However, he made a comeback in politics after being reportedly persuaded by the then GPCC president late Shantaram Naik.He contested the 2022 assembly polls from Nuvem constituency and emerged victorious.Months before the 2022 assembly elections, the All India Congress committee appointed the veteran Congress leader as the president of the Goa Pradesh Congresscommittee.
PANAJI: Ten days after the assembly election results, Congress is set to undertake an exercise to study the reasons for its rout in Goa. Congress president Sonia Gandhi has assigned All India Congress Committee (AICC) observer and MP Rajani Patil the task of collecting feedback from Congress MLAs, office bearers, its losing candidates, and the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC). Patil will arrive in Goa on Tuesday. During her two-day visit, Patil will hold discussions with Congress functionaries and workers to understand what went so wrong that the party was not even able meet its 2017 score of 17 seats despite a huge angst against the BJP-led government, a party insider said. Congress won 11 seats while its alliance partner GFP, one. The party, a functionary said, was confident of winning 16 to 17 seats. “It was a jolt that none had expected. Though we had anticipated some division of votes, none thought it could deal such a blow and, more particularly, in Salcete,” the party functionary said. The seniors, he said, perhaps were overconfident that, after 10 years, the people were ready to send BJP home, and they underestimated the threat of its votes splintering. “That was our biggest mistake though still many are unwilling to accept it,” the functionary said. Besides, the candidates fielded by TMC, AAP, and NCP, RG candidates also drilled a rather substantial hole in Congress’ vote share. In Navelim, the constituency in the Salcete, which was a Congress stronghold, BJP opened its account with its candidate Ulhas Tuenkar polling 5,168 votes as the constituency saw a multi-cornered contest. In Velim, which went to AAP, the Congress candidate was pushed to the third position. “It is difficult to digest that Congress candidates in its stronghold are not just defeated but relegated to third position. It shows our precarious position in Goa,” a party insider said.
Viresh Borkar was taken aback when an old lady in Goa Velha’s Zuari ward leaned forward to bless him during the door-to-door campaign. Now the lone MLA with assets worth just Rs 8 lakh, unlike the 39 other crorepati legislators, Borkar took her blessing and found a note being tucked inside his hands. It was `100. Not too far away, a other lady did the same, this time handing over `200. While door-to-door political campaigns see candidates luring voters with gifts in cash and kind, the opposite was happening with the Revolutionary Goans (RG) party candidate in St Andre. “People joined hands in this fight for Goan identity,” said the youngest MLA since Mauvin Godinho (25) and Victor Gonsalves (27) were elected in 1989. “We had nothing personal against anyone and just wanted to bring about a change since some areas here didn’t even have water.” Borkar, 28, turned out to be the biggest success story at last month’s elections when he defeated four-time MLA and former sports minister Francisco Silveira. It was a stunning win that helped RG open its account. “We were all dismissed as Facebook heroes who wouldn’t get more than 300 votes,” said Borkar, who polled 5,395 votes. Born and brought up in Neura, Borkar was like any other teenager, eager to become a businessman so that he could make enough money to live a comfortable life. After dropping out of a computer diploma course, he started working in the IT field and later set up a business venture of his own at Fatorda. The computer, mobile repairs and CCTV installation business didn’t work. “We were doing our job honestly but couldn’t compete with outsiders who sold duplicate stuff at a lesser price,” said Borkar. Fed up, he gave up the business.This was around 2017 when the state assembly elections were around the corner. He volunteered to work for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) but soon realised it was as good, or bad, as any other party. It was during his time with AAP that he came across Vishwesh Naik and Manoj Parab who also worked for the party and later got disillusioned. The three founded Revolutionary Goans and kickstarted a movement, largely backed by youth, to “save Goa”. RG was registered as an NGO, but without any of them working, it was difficult to sustain. To bring in the finances, Borkar took up a “good offer” from an Apple store in the city. As RG activities started rising, Borkar remembered his late grandfather’s words and quit his job in late 2019 when it became clear that the organisation would test political waters. “My grandfather (Dattaram Pandhari Borkar) was a freedom fighter and taught us to fight for the truth,” said Borkar. “I remember when I was about 18, he used to read the newspapers that carried news about corruption and unemployment. He said he had done his bit when he could and now it was my turn.” Borkar tried to spark a revolution with RG. He sold t-shirts, caps, even socks during zatras and festivals across the state, more prominently in Vasco (Saptah), Mapusa (Bodgeshwar zatra) and Navelim (Rosary feast). “The idea was to learn what was in it for the son of the soil if they took up these jobs,” he said. The RG president underwent a course in agriculture and took to farming too. He educated others, launched a job portal and raised his voice against “migrants doing illegal businesses, encroaching on our land, taking up our jobs”. Above all, when RG decided to take to electoral politics, Borkar showed the way. Like his late grandfather, he took on the most powerful, without fear. And triumphed.
Victory despite anti-incumbencyDr. Alaknanda ShringareDespite anti-incumbency, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was able to win 20 seats in the recently concluded assembly elections in Goa. The presence of new political parties and the candidate factor could be the reason for this victory. An examination of vote share and seat share of the party helps us analyse this factor in a better way.With the entry of new parties, the competition looked multi-polar but ended up being a bi-polar competition between the BJP and the Congress, with both parties together polling more than 50% of the votes. In 2012, both these parties together polled almost 65% of the votes, which reduced to 61% in 2017. This decline of vote share can be attributed to the entry of new political parties. In 2017, the votes were divided between two new political parties in the fray – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP). The Goa Suraksha Manch also made a buzz in 2017 but could not make much impact by way of vote share. The vote share of both the Congress and the BJP had reduced by 2 percentage points while the MGP was the only party which increased its vote share by 6 percentage points.In the recent elections, with the entry of the Trinamool Congress and the Revolutionary Goans Party, the votes further got divided, reducing the total vote share of both the Congress and the BJP to around 56%. The Congress vote share has reduced from 29% in 2017 to 23% in 2022. Due to the pre-poll alliance with the GFP, the Congress did not contest all 40 seats and its vote share is counted on the basis of 37 seats. The BJP, which contested all 40 seats, was able to add to its earlier vote share by only one percentage point by winning 33% votes, compared to 32% in the last election. The MGP’s vote share reduced by 3 percentage points as compared to the last assembly elections. The opposition votes got divided with the entry of new players, who together polled around 16% votes. A divided opposition helped the BJP to increase its seat share.Analysing only the vote share of the party is misleading, and one also needs to look into the seat share of the party, which ultimately decides who forms the government. The vote share of the parties does not correspond with their seat share. In the 2017 assembly elections, with 29% votes, the Congress won 17 seats while the BJP, with 32% votes, was able to win 13 seats. The BJP registered an increase in seat share in 2022 by winning 20 seats with just 1% increase in its vote base. A split in opposition votes could be one of the factors for the BJP’s seat gain despite the presence of the anti-incumbency factor.The election results also confirm the stronghold of significant players and families over some constituencies. The CSDS-Lokniti studies conducted in the past confirm that in Goa, a majority of the voters vote for candidate in the assembly elections and for the party in the Lok Sabha elections. Among 40 constituencies, in 12 constituencies candidates have their stronghold of which 7 are in BJP and added to the seat share of the party. In some places, the control of the candidate extends over two or three constituencies. The hold of the candidate is so strong that the party cannot discipline them but has to share power with them, which is one of the emerging characteristics of Goan politics. Perhaps it has to do with the efficacy of their constituency management and the small size of Goa’s constituencies. They get elected despite changing their party loyalty.Defections have become a common feature of Goan politics. The candidate who registered a win even though he/she changed party loyalty confirms once again the stronghold of candidates over their constituencies. Party ideology and loyalty has taken a back seat. Rarely politicians are punished for such activities by the voters. Between 2017 and 2022, most Congress MLAs switched loyalty and joined the BJP, and many of them were given ticket by the BJP as they were considered winnable candidates. Out of 15 candidates who defected from the Congress, nine of them added to the seat share of the BJP and perhaps have added to the vote share of the BJP too, with some candidates winning with huge margins. The challenge before the BJP now is how to balance the power equations among its heavyweight candidates.Rise in women voter turnoutDr. Alaknanda ShringareOver a period, Goa has witnessed not only an increase in the number of women voters but also a corresponding increase in women voter turnout compared to men since the 2012 assembly elections. Turnout of women has increased by 10 percentage points in the last few elections. This increase can be seen in almost all constituencies. Women do have a greater impact on election results and women as voters are significant to political parties. This explains the competition among political parties to announce schemes and reservation for women in jobs. There is also an increase in the number of women contesting elections from 19 in 2017 to 26 in 2022. It is also the first time in the last five elections that three women were elected, with Deviya Rane securing the highest vote share among all 40 elected candidates.An increase in the number of women voters and their voting percentage makes it crucial to understand how women voted in 2022. An analysis of gender-wise voting preference in Goa based on the CSDS-Lokniti post-poll survey data for rural and urban areas reveals that the bulk of the BJP’s support came from urban areas, especially women (41%). There is an increase (35%) in the urban population, making urban areas as an important ground for winning elections. The Congress support base can also be visible more among the urban women (32%) and men (34%) compared to rural areas but this did not result in increasing their seat share. On the contrary, the TMC-MGP alliance, the AAP and the RG mustered increased support base among rural women as compared to urban ones. This indicates that the promises of various schemes and reservations in jobs for women made by the TMC and the AAP did not create an impact on urban women.One can also find variations among how women of different communities voted. It is evident from the Census 2011 data that Goa consists of 66% Hindus, 25% Christians and 8% Muslims. The survey results suggest that a large number of the BJP’s support base came from Hindus. There is an increase of 10 percentage points among Hindu women voting for the BJP (43%) compared to 2017 elections (33%), which is also true for men with a slightly high percentage (13%). Most Muslim and Christian men and women voted for the Congress with the number being high for Muslim women (56%). However, the Congress lost support among Christians in the present elections (35%) compared to previous assembly elections (41%) as they were attracted to new political parties in the fray. A sizable number of Christian men and women (15%) voted for the TMC-MGP alliance. The AAP and the RG also received good support among men and women from the Christian communities.The BJP has been able to create a strong support base among all caste groups with the percentage being very high for ST women (59%), followed by the Hindu upper caste women (52%) and Marathi women (41%). However, support for the BJP is less among women of the Bhandari Samaj and other OBCs as compared to men.(Dr. Alaknanda Shringare is an assistant professor at the Department of Political Science in Goa University)
Staff ReporterMargaoThe Aam AdmiParty (AAP) MLA-elect of Benaulim, Venzy Viegas on Monday saidhe will holdJanata darbars at different places of his constituency to hear grievances of locals and towork for solutions.Speaking to media,Viegassaid,“AAP will be the voice of the people in theassembly and it will start from Salcete. We became the state partywith 7% of thevote share. I will be holding Janata darbarat different places inmy constituency to hear grievances of my peopleandaccordingly will workfor solutions.”Hundreds of Viegas supporters holdingbanners and party flags were seen celebrating the win ofViegas, who defeated theformer chief minister and NCP-turned Goa Trinamool Congress legislator Churchill Alemao.“This rally was organised to say thank you to the people of Benaulim. I am grateful to them. We need a hospital inBenaulim. A site was chosen, but since there was an objection, we have to look for another site or adjust with anyavailable structure”he added.It may be recalled thatAAPhad firstwon theZP election in Benaulim constituency. Thepartygained further supportfrom the coastal constituency and in the recentlyconcludedassembly election, thepeople of this areaelected theAAP candidate as their legislator. Theoath-takingceremony of thelegislators will beon Tuesday.
PANAJI: In eight of the 40 constituencies, majority of the postal ballots did not go in favour of the winning candidate. Canacona and Mandrem with 1,018 and 1,008, respectively, had the highest number of postal ballots. The fewest were in Mormugao and Navelim with 301 each and in Dabolim with 305. In Bicholim, MGP’s Naresh Sawal garnered 378 postal ballot votes, higher than the winning candidate who contested on an independent ticket. Dr Chandrakant Shetye received 240 postal ballot votes in his favour. In St Andre where RG’s Viresh Borkar sprung a surprise, BJP’s Francisco Silveira received 210 postal ballots compared to Borkar’s 103. Borkar getting more than 100 left the BJP camp there surpised as they had not expected the new regional party, which was mainly popular among the youth, to garner votes from employees of government and government-aided institutions. Recently, Congress and GFP had alleged that ruling party functionaries and even some MLAs were putting pressure on poll officials for their postal ballots. In Mandrem, although MGP’s Jit Arolkar defeated BJP’s Dayanand Sopte, postal ballots went largely in favour of Sopte who got 399. Former CM Laxmikant Parsekar who came in third place got 304 postal ballots compared to the winning candidate Arolkar’s 243. Former urban development minister Milind Naik who failed in his bid for a fourth term, facing incumbency and allegations of a sex scandal, also found favour with postal ballot voters. At 191, he got the highest postal ballot votes in the constituency. Congress’ Sankalp Amonkar who emerged victorious received 98. In Navelim, Ulhas Tuenkar, who became the first BJP candidate to win the assembly election from Salcete, secured 84 postal ballots compared to Congress’ Avertano Furtado, a former minister, who secured 90 and came in third place. Although former deputy chief minister and BJP candidate Chandrakant Kavlekar had to bite the dust in Quepem, he secured higher postal ballots compared to Congress’ Altone D’Costa, a first timer. Kavlekar received 529 postal ballots and D’Costa only 338. Siolim, which saw the highest number of candidates contesting, saw BJP’s Dayanand Mandrekar, who came in second, place secure 260 compared to winning candidate and first-timer Delilah Lobo who got 244 postal ballots. Congress’ Savio D’Silva (Velim) had the highest number of postal ballots at 154 despite not winning. Former minister and NCP’ Filipe Nery Rodrigues, who lost his deposit and came in fifth place, got the second highest number of postal ballots in the constituency at 124. Winning candidate from AAP, Cruz Silva secured 111 postal ballot votes. A political observer said that it was not surprising that those associated with election work didn’t go with the ruling party. Interestingly, in Benaulim, AAP’s Venzy Viegas as well as former chief minister Churchill Alemao, who was defeated, each secured 144 postal ballots in their favour.
MARGAO: Of the several new faces Congress fielded in South Goa, only one managed to win. Altone D’Costa (Quepem) who defeated former deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar in his debut elections, was the party’s sole victorious new face. Sankalp Amonkar (Mormugao) and Yuri Alemao (Cuncolim) who also won the polls for the first time, had contested earlier polls. Among those new faces who lost narrowly are Amit Patkar (Curchorem), Savio D’Silva (Velim) and Rajesh Verenkar (Ponda). Patkar lost to former power minister Nilesh Cabral by a slender margin of 672 votes. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had addressed Patkar’s public rally in Curchorem a few days ahead of the polls, which also helped him come within striking distance of victory. Patkar’s defeat notwithstanding, political observers said that his vigorous election campaign helped revitalise the Congress camp in Curchorem. In Velim, Congress candidate Savio D’Silva was defeated by AAP’s Cruz Silva by a slim margin of 169 votes. AAP’s consistent groundwork in Velim over the last few years since it made its debut in the state’s assembly polls in 2017, paid dividends for the party this time. Significantly, Filipe Nery Rodrigues, a former minister in the outgoing government, who contested on an NCP ticket, was pushed to a miserable fifth position, largely owing to a robust performance by RG. Congress’ Rajesh Verenkar came a close third in Ponda where MGP’s Ketan Bhatikar lost to BJP’s Ravi Naik by a wafer thin margin of 77 votes. Verenkar closely trailed Bhatikar by less than 600 votes.
PANAJI: For a large part during the vote counting process on March 10, it had seemed like chief minister Pramod Sawant may be defeated by Congress’ Dharmesh Saglani in Sanquelim constituency. However, towards the final leg of counting, the proverbial tables turned, and Sawant was declared a winner by a margin of 666 votes. At the 2022 polls, Sawant was not the only one. At least ten candidates have won their seats by a narrow margin — wafer thin in some cases. After Sawant’s Sanquelim constituency, the most entertaining turned out to be the fight for the Ponda seat. Here, veteran Ravi Naik was almost toppled by MGP’s young candidate Ketan Bhatikar. But, after one of the rounds saw Bhatikar leading by just one vote, Naik asked for a recount, and the veteran won the seat for BJP by a margin of 77 votes. The margin was similarly dangerously thin in St Andre, where Viresh Borkar made history by winning the first ever seat for the newbee Revolutionary Goans (RG) Party by 76 votes only. Borkar defeated BJP’s Francis Silveira, who is now left blaming non-resident Goans for persuading family members in St Andre to vote for RG. Cruz Silva in Velim constituency also made history, winning a seat for AAP after Congress’s Savio D’Silva fell short by 170 votes. Independent Chandrakant Shetye was yet another newcomer who frustrated MGP’s Naresh Sawal in Bicholim, winning the seat by a margin of 318 votes. In Panaji, BJP candidate Atanasio Monserrate went public with his annoyance over the low margin of victory. Monserrate said BJP workers had worked against him leaving him sweating outside the counting centre until his win was declared by a margin of 716 votes over Independent Utpal Parrikar. The battle for Priol was also a seesaw as BJP’s Govind Gaude ended up the winner by 213 votes over MGP’s Pandurang Dhavalikar. Like Gaude, Nilesh Cabral was another cabinet minister who won by less than 1,000 votes. The difference of votes was only 672 between those polled by Cabral and those polled by Congress’ Amit Patkar. Like RG and AAP, TMC came really close to sending its first ever MLA to the Goa assembly, but their hopes were defeated in Navelim by BJP’s Ulhas Tuenkar won as Valanka Alemao fell short of 430 votes. Many politicians have already come out to state that RG was a key factor that chomped off votes in many constituencies, altering the results. Jit Arolkar of MGP gave BJP’s Dayanand Sopte a run for his money by winning Mandrem with a margin of 712 votes.
Shoma PatnaikPanajiThe figures expose that politics, criminal antecedents and disproportionate wealth go hand-in-hand: 16 of Goa’s newly elected MLAs have background of criminal cases, and of which 13 have serious cases against them.Moreover all of Goa’s 40 new MLAs, excluding just one, are crorepatis with average assets of `20 crore.It is pertinent to note here that from among the lawmakers elected at the 2017 assembly polls, nine MLAs had criminal cases against them, while six legislators had charges of serious crimes.In terms of wealth, all 40 MLAs were crorepatis but with average assets valued at `10.9 crore.Analysing the election results, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) said on Saturday that winner’s background reveals money and muscle power remain the biggest catch for garnering votes.The election watchdog pointed out that except for one winner from the Revolutionary Goans Party, all other newly-elected MLAs from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three Independents are crorepatis.Also, 17 of the winners are re-elected legislators for whom the average growth in assets is by 74%.Top five richest MLA-elect are: Delilah Lobo (INC-Siolim) and Micheal Lobo (INC-Calangute) with assets valued at `92 crore each; followed by first-time winner Dr. Chndrakant Shetye (Independent-Bicholim), assets value `59 crore; Atanasio (Babush) Monserrate (BJP-Panaji), assets of `48 crore; Jennifer Monserrate (BJP-Taleigao), assets `48 crore.The fifth richest winner is Vijay Sardesai (GFP-Fatorda), with assets of `37 crore. The asset value of dark horse winner Viresh Borkar (RGP-St. Andre) stood at `8 lakh, while the two AAP MLA-elect – Venzy Viegas (Benaulim) and Cruz Silva (Velim) – have assets of `5 crore and `12 crore respectively. The ADR analysis has revealed an improvement in the education background of the elected representatives with 21 MLAs being graduates, professionals and postgraduates.“The ECI guidelines required candidates as well as political parties to advertise the criminal background in newspapers. Yet 40% of the state’s electedrepresentatives are with criminal antecedents. It shows the changing demands of voters. In the past Goans voted in the interest of the state, but presently they are voting for themselves. They want government jobs, approach roads, etc.,” said Bhasker Assoldeker, coordinator for ADR-Goa, at a press conference.Assoldekar was accompanied by Manguirish Raikar, council member of ASSOCHAM, who pointed out that Goa’s elections are candidate-driven and not party-driven like in other states.The ADR analysis has revealed thin winning margins in the 2022 elections because of the large number of contestants in the fray.Total 190 contenders out of 301 candidates lost the security deposit.