Goa BJP News

BJP in office today due to Upadhyay: Kamat
Times of India | 1 day ago | |
Times of India
1 day ago | |

Margao: Up until about10 days ago, he was singing paeans to the founders of Congress and how its roots lay in the freedom movement. On Sunday, Margao MLA Digambar Kamat paid rich tributes to Pt Deendayal Upadhyay, an RSS thinker and former leader of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the forerunner of BJP, on his birth anniversary. Hopping from ward to ward represented by councillors affiliated to him, Kamat led his supporters-turned-saffron karyakartas in eulogising the leader who showed the nation the path of antyodaya. For Kamat, the ideological switchover has been seemingly smooth and complete, effortless and instant. “Upadhyay laid the foundation of today’s BJP. If BJP is in office today, its credit goes to leaders like him who did the spadework for the party which was then known as Bharatiya Jana Sangh. It’s the exemplary work done by Upadhyay and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee that has now resulted in BJP coming to office,” Kamat told his supporters who stood shoulder to shoulder with original BJP karyakartas who had fought battles over the last 17 years.Referring to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Mann ki Baat of Sunday, wherein Modi hailed Upadhyay and credited him with India’s progress and achievements, Kamat said that BJP (then Bharatiya Jana Sangh) during those times worked towards reaching out to all sections of society and uplifting the common man. “It’s the duty of all karyakartas to remember the leader, and therefore the party chalked out this program of holding the shraddhanjali programme in all wards,” Kamat said. Political observers say that BJP’s success in Margao will hinge largely on how well the two BJP factions – one controlled by Kamat and the other belonging to the party cadre – gel with each other. A few days ago, BJP held a meeting with Kamat and the party cadre in Panaji in the presence of the top brass of BJP, including chief minister Pramod Sawant, that served as an icebreaker to thaw the relations between the two. The recent change in equations in the Margao Municipal Council (MMC), following Kamat switching over to BJP, led to the ouster of Ghanashyam Shirodkar, hardly a week after he was elected chairperson. Though Kamat’s nominee Damodar Shirodkar was defeated by Ghanashyam in the chairperson’s elections, it’s unlikely that Kamat will have the final word in deciding the candidature this time as a couple of councillors elected on the BJP-backed panel are also eyeing the top post.

BJP in office today due to Upadhyay: Kamat
Trinamool Spent Rs 47 Crore For Goa Polls, BJP Rs 17 Crore: Election Body
Ndtv | 1 day ago | |
Ndtv
1 day ago | |

Eyeing expansion, the Trinamool Congress had actively campaigned for the assembly elections in Goa.New Delhi: The Goa assembly elections were keenly fought with the Trinamool Congress and Aam Aadmi Party throwing their hats in the ring but when it came to poll expenditure, it was the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress that loosened its purse strings spending a whopping Rs 47.54 crore.The BJP, which retained power in Goa with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at the helm, spent over Rs 17.75 crore towards election expenditure in the state.The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP spent nearly Rs 3.5 crore in Goa, where it tried its luck for the second consecutive assembly elections.The details of the election expenditure were submitted by the respective political parties to the Election Commission recently.The Congress, which was hoping to dislodge the BJP from power in Goa, spent approximately Rs 12 crore on the Goa elections.The Nationalist Congress Party gave Rs 25 lakh each to the 11 candidates it had fielded for the elections, besides spending on the campaign from the party's central fund.The Shiv Sena, which fielded 10 candidates in the Goa elections, spent nearly Rs 92 lakh towards poll expenditure. Eyeing expansion, the Trinamool Congress had launched an election blitzkrieg in Goa with poll strategist Prashant Kishor playing a key role in trying to get the party a toehold in the state.The party fielded 23 candidates in the Goa assembly election but none of them won, while its ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party put up candidates in 13 seats and managed to win two.The AAP fielded 39 candidates and managed to open its account in the state by winning two seats.The Congress had cried foul at the entry of Trinamool Congress and the AAP in the electoral fray in Goa, accusing them of dividing the anti-BJP vote.The BJP won 20 seats in the 40-member assembly and formed the government with the support of two MGP MLAs and three Independent legislators.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comEarlier this month, eight of the 11 Congress MLAs, including Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and former chief minister Digambar Kamat, defected to the BJP.(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Trinamool Spent Rs 47 Crore For Goa Polls, BJP Rs 17 Crore: Election Body
No trust move against MMC chairperson passed
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

Margao: The no-confidence motion moved against Ghanashyam Shirodkar — who was elected as chairperson of the Margao Municipal Council a week ago and resigned on Thursday — was on Friday passed 15-0 when it was put to vote by a show of hands. Only the 15 BJP-affiliated councillors were present at the meeting that was called to decide upon the motion, while the remaining 10 — nine backed by GFP, besides Shirodkar — failed to turn up. Shirodkar’s ouster through the no-trust motion was reduced to a ritual of mere academic interest.BJP councillors said that their candidate for the next election for chairperson will be decided by their political leaders. All eight councillors elected on the BJP panel have now joined hands with the seven members elected on Margao legislator Digambar Kamat’s Model Margao panel following his defection to BJP.Backed by the Vijai Sardesai-led GFP, Shirodkar was elected as MMC chairperson on September 16, defeating Damodar Shirodkar, Kamat’s nominee, 15-10. Left red-faced over cross voting by BJP councillors, all 15 BJP-affiliated councillors were made to sign a no-confidence motion against Shirodkar barely hours after the election, which was submitted to the DMA on September 19.

No trust move against MMC chairperson passed
  • Margao civic chairperson quits ahead of trust vote
  • Times of India

    Margao: A day ahead of the no confidence motion (NCM) moved against him, Margao Municipal Council (MMC) chairperson Ghanashyam Shirodkar on Thursday stepped down from his post. He submitted his resignation to the director of municipal administration.Shirodkar was elected chairperson on September 16, defeating Damodar Shirodkar, Margao MLA Digambar Kamat’s nominee, 15-10. Left red-faced over cross-voting by BJP-affiliated councillors, all the 15 BJP-affiliated councillors were made to sign a no confidence motion against him, hours after the election and it was submitted to the DMA on September 19.After submitting his resignation, Ghanashyam once again hit out at Kamat for what he said was his “political ego” that led him to force the councillors to swear on coconut before Dev Dambab that they hadn’t cross voted.Stating that this was not the right way to guide councillors, most of whom were elected for the first time, Ghanashyam said that Kamat as well as chief minister Pramod Sawant not to meddle in the affairs of civic bodies.He said that if voting on the motion was to be held by secret ballot instead of show of hands, he would have defeated the motion. “However, I didn’t want to put the councillors in a dilemma or pressurise anybody to vote for me. Rather, I thought it would be better for me to resign and go,” Ghanashyam told reporters.Pointing out to inconsistencies in the law governing election of chairperson of municipalities, Ghanashyam said he would move the court seeking laying down of guidelines in the law pertaining to conduct of elections.“As the existing law, the chairperson is elected by secret ballot but a no confidence motion is decided by show of hands. This needs to be removed and guidelines need to be laid down by law” he said.He said that there a need to amendment the law that would prohibit ouster of a chairperson for at least six months from his election.

  • Day later, new Margao Municipal Council chair faces no-trust motion
  • Times of India

    MARGAO: The very next working day after getting elected as the chairperson of Margao Municipal Council, Ghanashyam Shirodkar faces a no-confidence motion. Fifteen councillors have signed the motion for Shirodkar's ouster that was submitted to the director of municipal administration on Monday. In the elections held on Friday, Damodar Shirodkar, Margao MLA Digambar Kamat's nominee, was defeated 10-15, causing an acute embarrassment to Kamat as well as chief minister Pramod Sawant, who had taken personal interest in the election. Significantly, the no-confidence motion is silent on any reason for the councillors to lose their trust in Ghanashyam. "These are the orders from the top. The decision is theirs," was what most of the councillors said when asked about the reasons. Reacting to the development, Ghanashyam hit out at Kamat and blamed his "personal ego" for bringing the motion against him. "Let's see how it pans out, the battle has begun," he said. The chairperson said he would reply to the charges leveled against him even as he denounced the way councillors were made to swear on a coconut before lord Dambab at Zambaulim. "I got elected through a secret ballot. The president of India Droupadi Murmu got the highest number of votes through a secret ballot. In Goa she got three extra votes. Was a coconut given to the MLAs to swear then?" Ghanashyam said. The development is reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred in April last year at the Curchorem Cacora Municipal Council (CCMC) when Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral's nominee was defeated at the elections for the chairperson. Less than 30 minutes after Balkrishna Hodarkar was declared elected, 10 councillors of the 15-member CCMC had moved a no-confidence motion against him. Cabral's nominee, Vishwas Sawant, was defeated 7-8 by a secret ballot at the first meeting of the council.

  • 15 MMC councillors move no-trust motion against newly-elected chief
  • Times of India

    Margao: The very next working day after getting elected as the chairperson of Margao Municipal Council, Ghanashyam Shirodkar faces a no-confidence motion. Fifteen councillors have signed the motion for Shirodkar’s ouster that was submitted to the director of municipal administration on Monday.In the elections held on Friday, Damodar Shirodkar, Margao MLA Digambar Kamat’s nominee, was defeated 10-15, causing an acute embarrassment to Kamat as well as chief minister Pramod Sawant, who had taken personal interest in the election. Significantly, the no-confidence motion is silent on any reason for the councillors to lose their trust in Ghanashyam. “These are the orders from the top. The decision is theirs,” was what most of the councillors said when asked about the reasons.Reacting to the development, Ghanashyam hit out at Kamat and blamed his “personal ego” for bringing the motion against him. “Let’s see how it pans out, the battle has begun,” he said.The chairperson said he would reply to the charges leveled against him even as he denounced the way councillors were made to swear on a coconut before lord Dambab at Zambaulim. “I got elected through a secret ballot. The president of India Droupadi Murmu got the highest number of votes through a secret ballot. In Goa she got three extra votes. Was a coconut given to the MLAs to swear then?” Ghanashyam said. The development is reminiscent of a similar situation that occurred in April last year at the Curchorem Cacora Municipal Council (CCMC) when Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral’s nominee was defeated at the elections for the chairperson.Less than 30 minutes after Balkrishna Hodarkar was declared elected, 10 councillors of the 15-member CCMC had moved a no-confidence motion against him. Cabral’s nominee, Vishwas Sawant, was defeated 7-8 by a secret ballot at the first meeting of the council.

Political circles abuzz as Ferreira supports Congress-GFP merger
Times of India | 6 days ago | |
Times of India
6 days ago | |

Margao: A statement by Aldona MLA Carlos Ferreira that a merger of Goa Forward Party (GFP) with Congress would strengthen anti-BJP forces in the state, and GFP president Vijai Sardesai instantly warming up to the idea has set political circles abuzz with speculations.Pointing out to Sardesai's roots in Congress and describing him as a “firebrand leader,” Ferreira said, “We are in alliance with Vijai Sardesai. There is an ideological like-mindedness between us, and this is what keeps us together. Vijai is a leader in his own right. I have known him since his student leader days. And if he (joins Congress) we will be strengthened further. It is time for all forces to realign to make sure that we defeat these kinds of forces that are defeating our nation, trampling upon the constitution and trying to make democracy redundant.”Sardesai responded cautiously to Ferreira’s invitation, though he dropped enough hints that he wasn’t averse to the idea.“The issue of merger cannot be decided by speculation. In the absence of any formal proposal, I cannot take it forward. This requires a formal high-level initiative which at the moment isn’t there,” Sardesai said. He maintained, however, that he was an alliance partner of Congress and remains so till date.The Fatorda MLA said that Congress lay in a moribund state and that most of the new parties have come to occupy the political space ceded by Congress. “I am not fighting for the space of Congress; I don’t want to be cannibalistic. I want to unite all anti-BJP forces to uproot this anti-Goan government and party from Goa. That’s my intention and that’s why I had formed an alliance with Congress. That sentiment still prevails,” Sardesai said.The GFP president said he was interested in “winning the hearts of the people” with his anti-corruption, anti-coal and anti-defection stance

Political circles abuzz as Ferreira supports Congress-GFP merger
Goa: We will return to grassroots to rejuvenate party, says Congress
Times of India | 6 days ago | |
Times of India
6 days ago | |

MARGAO: At a meeting of Congress workers from South Goa at the party's district office in Margao on Monday, it was decided to "rejuvenate" the party from the grassroots and to be the voice of the people. Addressing reporters after the meeting, Viriato Fernandes, a party functionary, said that party workers voiced their anger over the "betrayal of trust of the voters" and "murder of democracy" by the eight Congress MLAs who jumped to BJP recently. "We will go to the grassroots and explain to the people. BJP is the main culprit in this defection. They purchased our MLAs. We will go to all villages across Goa and rejuvenate the party," Fernandes said. He added, "Our foundation is strong, the party ideology is also strong, only those who had come for personal benefits have left." Margao MLA Digambar Kamat particularly came in for sharp criticism at the meeting. "We have to rebuild the party. We have to be the voice of the people and uphold the values of democracy. Our three MLAs will raise the issues of the people in the assembly, the party workers will work at the grassroots. We will take the battle forward," Fernandes said.

Goa: We will return to grassroots to rejuvenate party, says Congress
  • Congress: We will return to grassroots to rejuvenate party
  • Times of India

    Margao: At a meeting of Congress workers from South Goa at the party’s district office in Margao on Monday, it was decided to “rejuvenate” the party from the grassroots and to be the voice of the people.Addressing reporters after the meeting, Viriato Fernandes, a party functionary, said that party workers voiced their anger over the “betrayal of trust of the voters” and “murder of democracy” by the eight Congress MLAs who jumped to BJP recently. “We will go to the grassroots and explain to the people. BJP is the main culprit in this defection. They purchased our MLAs. We will go to all villages across Goa and rejuvenate the party,” Fernandes said.He added, “Our foundation is strong, the party ideology is also strong, only those who had come for personal benefits have left.”Margao MLA Digambar Kamat particularly came in for sharp criticism at the meeting.“We have to rebuild the party. We have to be the voice of the people and uphold the values of democracy. Our three MLAs will raise the issues of the people in the assembly, the party workers will work at the grassroots. We will take the battle forward,” Fernandes said.

Goa: Work for development, win both LS seats, Amit Shah, JP Nadda tell new BJP MLAs
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: Seven of the eight MLAs who defected to BJP last week met Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J P Nadda at the party headquarters in Delhi on Monday. Chief minister Pramod Sawant, who accompanied the MLAs along with state BJP president Sadanand Shet Tanavade, told TOI that Shah and Nadda urged the MLAs to work for the development of the state, and that BJP should win both Lok Sabha seats in Goa. The Goan contingent, however, had to return without meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who cancelled the appointment at the last minute. Sawant told TOI that Modi cancelled the meeting because of his busy schedule, and that they would meet him next time. The meeting between the MLAs, Shah and Nadda took half an hour, and various issues were discussed. The seven MLAs are former CM Digambar Kamat (Margao), Aleixo Sequeira (Nuvem), Rodolfo Fernandes (Santa Cruz), Delilah Lobo (Siolim), Sankalp Amonkar (Mormugao), Kedar Naik (Saligao), and Rajesh Faldessai (Cumbarjua). Calangute MLA Michael Lobo was not part of the group, as he is in Kenya. Eight months after they did a run of a temple, a chapel and a mosque, taking a vow not to defect from Congress and even signing an affidavit pledging their loyalty to the party, eight of the 11 Congress MLAs “merged” the CLP into BJP taking the saffron party’s strength to 28 in the 40-member House. The three MLAs who remain with Congress are Quepem MLA Altone D Costa, Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao and Aldona MLA Carlos Ferreira. The merger of the CLP into BJP was held considering the upcoming Lok Sabha election, where BJP is eying both seats, especially South Goa, which has proved tough for the party to secure. So far, BJP has only won that seat twice. Chief minister Pramod Sawant is likely to reshuffle his cabinet after returning from Delhi. Sawant is likely to induct one minister initially. Nuvem MLA Aleixo Sequeira is likely to be the first to be inducted, political sources said. Whether Margao MLA Digambar Kamat is to be inducted in the state cabinet or moved to Delhi will be taken by the central leadership, a senior BJP leader had said. Ahead of the Delhi visit, Sawant also attended the coordination meeting called by RSS. The chief minister said that all the organisations connected with RSS attended the meeting.

Goa: Work for development, win both LS seats, Amit Shah, JP Nadda tell new BJP MLAs
  • Goa CM Pramod Sawant, 7 new BJP MLAs to meet Narendra Modi today
  • Times of India

    PANAJI/VASCO: Chief minister Pramod Sawant will lead the seven MLAs, who merged the Congress legislative wing into BJP, in a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. Sawant said that the seven MLAs will meet the PM, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda. “Our visit to Delhi is purely meant to meet party leaders,” the chief minister told TOI at the Goa airport. Sawant, accompanied by BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade, Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar and five of the newly inducted MLAs left for Delhi by a late evening flight on Sunday. Tanavade said that other than meeting the PM, Union home minister and party’s national president, “nothing else has been planned during our scheduled visit to Delhi”. Michael Lobo told TOI that he is unable to attend the meeting on Monday as he is currently in Kenya and will return on Thursday. The five newly inducted MLAs who accompanied the CM and Tanavade on the flight to Delhi are Sankalp Amonkar, Delilah Lobo, Kedar Naik, Rudolf Fernandes and Aleixo Sequeira. Sources said that Digambar Kamat and Rajesh Phaldesai have already reached the national capital. The chief minister is likely to reshuffle his cabinet after returning from Delhi. Margao MLA Digambar Kamat and former leader of opposition and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo along with six other MLAs “merged” the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) with BJP, last week. Ahead of the Delhi visit, Sawant also attended the coordination meeting called by RSS. The chief minister said that all the organisations connected with RSS attended the meeting. Sawant is likely to induct one minister initially. Nuvem MLA Aleixo Sequeira is likely to be first to be inducted. Whether Kamat is to be inducted in the state cabinet or moved to Delhi will be taken by the central leadership, a senior BJP leader said. Besides Kamat and Lobo, the other MLAs who joined BJP are Sequeira, Rodolfo Fernandes (Santa Cruz), Michael’s wife Delilah (Siolim), Sankalp Amonkar (Mormugao), Kedar Naik (Saligao) and Rajesh Faldessai (Cumbarjua). Eight months after they did a run of a temple, a chapel and a mosque taking a vow not to defect from Congress and even signing an affidavit pledging their loyalty to the party, eight of the 11 Congress MLAs “merged” the CLP into BJP taking the saffron party’s strength to 28 in the 40-member House. The three MLAs who remained with Congress are Quepem MLA Altone D Costa, Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao and Aldona MLA Carlos Ferreira. The merger was held considering the upcoming Lok Sabha seat where BJP is eyeing to win both the seats especially the South Goa one which has proved tough to secure. So far BJP has only won the seat twice.

  • Goa CM Pramod Sawant, 8 new BJP MLAs to meet PM Modi on September 19
  • Times of India

    PANAJI: Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant will lead the 8 MLAs, who merged the Congress legislative wing into BJP, will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday. Sawant told TOI that the eight MLAs will meet the Prime Minister, Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP national president J P Nadda. The chief minister is likely to reshuffle his cabinet after returning from the national capital. Margao MLA Digambar Kamat and former leader of opposition and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo along with six other MLAs “merged” the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) with BJP, last week. Ahead of the Delhi visit, Sawant also attended the coordination meeting called by RSS. He said that all the organisations connected with RSS attended the meeting. Sawant is likely to induct one minister initially. Nuvem MLA Aleixo Sequeira is likely to be first to be inducted.

  • Goa CM Pramod Sawant, 8 MLAs who switched to BJP to meet PM Modi in Delhi
  • The Indian Express

    Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Sunday said he will be traveling to Delhi with the eight newly inducted MLAs, who defected to the BJP from the Congress. Sawant and the MLAs are scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national Capital.The chief minister, who attended an annual meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday, said, “A meeting with the PM has been fixed. I will go with the eight MLAs and the (Goa BJP) president,” he told reporters.Eight MLAs – including former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat and former leader of Opposition Micheal Lobo – who were elected to the Goa Legislative Assembly on Congress tickets, defected to the BJP on September 14, in a merger of the two legislature parties. With this, the Congress’s strength declined from 11 to just three MLAs in the 40-member Assembly and that of the BJP increased from 20 to 28.In July 2019, two-thirds (then 10 out of 15) of the Congress MLAs had defected to the BJP in a similar fashion. Back then too, the defections took place while Sawant helmed the government.The recent developments have dealt a blow to the Congress at a time when party leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is underway. Along with Kamat and Lobo, MLAs including Lobo’s wife Delilah, former minister Aleixo Sequeira, Sankalp Amonkar, Kedar Naik, Rajesh Phal Dessai and Rudolfo Fernandes were welcomed into the saffron party by Pramod Sawant and state BJP chief Sadanand Tanavade last week.Sawant had said, “Congress has started a Bharat Jodo Yatra but in Goa the Congress Chhodo Yatra has begun. I welcome the new MLAs in BJP wholeheartedly… Before the election, we had resolved ‘Bavisaant Baavis plus (22 plus MLAs in 2022)’ and before 2022 comes to an end, the BJP has 28 of its own MLAs and the BJP’s foundation in Goa has been strengthened. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2024, we will definitely win both Parliamentary seats. With Congress Chhodo Yatra beginning in Goa, various Congress leaders from across the country will come to the BJP in the interest of the nation and give more strength to Modi-ji. And Modi-ji will be back as the Prime Minister in 2024 with over 400 (parliamentary) seats.”After the Assembly election results were declared on March 10, the BJP had formed the government with 20 of its own MLAs and support from two MLAs from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three Independents. With eight Congress MLAs switching to the treasury benches in a merger of the legislature parties, the BJP now has 28 MLAs of its own and support from five, raising its tally to 33. The Opposition now consists of three Congress MLAs, two from the AAP and one each from the Goa Forward Party and the Revolutionary Goans Party.Stung first in 2019 with 10 of its 15 MLAs walking over to the BJP, the Congress had averted a repeat of the incident in July and accused Kamat and Lobo of engineering the defection of its MLAs. The party had also filed disqualification petitions against the two leaders before the Speaker of the Assembly. But the storm seemed to have blown over only for a while. With their respective trips to Delhi, both Kamat and Lobo had made it apparent that their entry into the BJP was imminent.Ahead of the Assembly election in February, the Congress had for the first time taken its election candidates to a temple, church and a dargah where they, led by Kamat, took an oath that they would stay in the Congress if elected on a party ticket. Later, they also filed affidavits to this effect in the presence of Rahul Gandhi.Asked if their oath before Goa was insincere, Kamat said: “I am a believer in God. About the oath which I have taken before God, I have gone back to the temple and I have asked God and the Goddess that this (joining BJP) is in my mind. What should I do? We have a system of getting prasad. Then God said, you go ahead, don’t worry.”AICC Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao had alleged that the BJP had paid Rs 30 crore to Rs 40 crore to each of the MLAs who jumped ship. He said that the BJP had spent Rs 240 crore for splitting the Congress in Goa.Goa BJP president Sadanand Tanavade had then said, “We did not go seeking any MLAs. They formed their group and said that they want to join our party. We have not given a single rupee to any one or made any promises. They have come on their own and they have come unconditionally. The Congress only wants to make such allegations against us to divert people’s attention.”

  • Panchayat must serve citizens, help disabled: Goa CM Pramod Sawant
  • Times of India

    PANAJI: Chief minister Pramod Sawant said that the panchayat's role is not just restricted to granting construction licences, but to also serve the people, maintain cleanliness, conserve water bodies, and other related aspects. Sawant was speaking during the inauguration of a training programme by Goa Institute of Public Administration and Rural Development (GIPARD) for newly-elected representatives of village panchayats at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao on Thursday. The chief minister urged the panchs to be the link person between the government and reach out to the last person in society. He said told the panchs that they have a role to play in identifying persons with disabilities who require implants and assistive devices in their wards and help them in getting the devices which the government provides for free. Similarly, panch members can play a role in monitoring and identifying children under the age of six who require cochlear implant operation which costs over Rs 6 lakh where the family won't have to spend any money, he said. "If you identify children who are hearing impaired as early as possible, you can facilitate them and direct them to GMC, and they won't have to spend anything for the operation," Sawant said. He narrated the incident of a 34-year-old woman who suffered a spinal cord injury and was at home for four years, and she couldn't afford a wheelchair. The government provided her one and it was for the first time that she had gotten out of her house. "Whatever the cost of the wheelchair and other assistive devices, the government can bear the expenses," Sawant said. Sawant said Goa's utilisation of central government schemes is low compared to other states, despite it being an educated state, and urged panch members to reach out to those living in poverty and link them with schemes including self-sustaining schemes.

  • With electoral triumphs bookended by arrivals from Congress, Pramod Sawant consolidates his hold on Goa BJP
  • The Indian Express

    With eight of its 11 MLAs in Goa joining the BJP on Wednesday, the Congress party faced a second major instance of defection in the state in the past three-and-a-half years of BJP rule under Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.Despite his personal winning margin having shrunk to 666 votes in this year’s Assembly election, the BJP’s central leadership had decided to keep Sawant as Goa’s Chief Minister. He was, however, not without a challenger. Until the day Sawant was declared Chief Minister for a second time in March, state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane was very much in the reckoning for the top job. Tensions between Sawant and Rane have been no secret in Goa’s politics, and spilt over during the time the state was reeling under a crisis in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic amid deaths of patients in the Goa Medical College in May 2021. Of late, there have been fewer manifestations of these tensions.The latest defection of Congress MLAs, which follows a similar move by 10 of the party’s Goa MLAs in 2019, is likely to cement Sawant’s position as the BJP’s top leader in the coastal state. When Sawant welcomed the Congress defectors into the party fold at the BJP headquarters in Panaji on Wednesday, he was asked if raising the BJP’s tally in the 40-member House from 20 to 28 gave him an advantage. “I am saying this again. The BJP is a party that has a central leadership. We are not a regional party. We are constantly working in the interest of the country,” he responded.In July, when an attempt at the defection that came through on Wednesday was foiled, Sawant had said that the BJP had a stable government in Goa and did not need any more MLAs. On Wednesday, he said, “If people want to come and join us, they are welcome.” Asked if any of the newly inducted MLAs would be accommodated in his Cabinet, he said, “That we will see. They have been accommodated in the party. They have joined us unconditionally.”That this decision was taken with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls was apparent when Sawant said, “…the BJP’s foundation in Goa has been strengthened. In the Lok Sabha elections of 2024, we will definitely win both the Parliamentary seats.”The BJP has been determined to wrest the South Goa parliamentary seat from the Congress. The entry of former chief minister and eight-time Margao MLA Digambar Kamat into the BJP fold gave fresh wind to speculation that he could be the party’s candidate from South Goa in 2024.Asked on Wednesday if a Cabinet berth or a ticket to contest the parliamentary election from South Goa were among his expectations on his return to the BJP, Kamat said, “I am such a senior leader. I have no expectations. I have joined them unconditionally.”Making inroads into the Catholic-dominated Salcete taluka has been among the BJP’s main challenges in South Goa. However, in the last Assembly election, with Opposition votes split between the Congress, AAP and TMC, the BJP won the Navelim seat and secured one MLA in Salcete, which is spread out over eight Assembly constituencies. With the addition of former minister Aleixo Sequeira to the BJP on Wednesday, the saffron party may also be hopeful of securing more votes from the Nuvem Assembly constituency, which is also in Salcete. With the addition of four Catholic MLAs — three in North Goa and one in the South — the number of Catholic MLAs in the BJP climbed from five to nine.The BJP, which formed the government in the state with the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independents, has the support of two Independent Catholic MLAs from Salcete.Goa BJP president Sadanand Tanavade said that Kamat’s entry into the party would help the BJP in Margao, the majority-dominated constituency of Salcete. “In Margao, this will definitely help us. He has been an MLA eight times.”“Leaders of other parties have seen the good work done by the BJP government in Goa and at the Centre under the leadership of PM Modi. This is happening all over the country. More and more leaders want to join the BJP because they have seen our work,” Tanavade said.While mid-term changes in leadership are not alien to BJP-governed states, Sawant may have put speculation over this to rest in Goa with Wednesday’s events coming on the back of comfortably forming a government in March and scoring big in the panchayat elections in the state in August.

The downslide in federal relations
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Dear Reader,Soon after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014, Narendra Modi spoke about cooperative federalism as an idea that could guide Centre-state relations. His long experience as Chief Minister of Gujarat, presumably, may have been an instructive influence in shaping his vision of governance. Unfortunately, federal relations have been on the downslide for some years now.Historically, Centre-state relations have been a fraught issue since the 1960s, especially during the premierships of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi. The tension would exacerbate whenever an Opposition party would win power in a state. In fact, the Kerala crisis in 1959 was a harbinger of how this tension could build into a stand-off between the Union and the state governments. In the heyday of the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru in the 1950s, Kerala had voted in a CPI government. Just two years after it was sworn in, the Congress-led Opposition, in cahoots with caste/ communitarian groups that were upset with the radical tenancy and education reforms, launched a mass movement calling for the ouster of the communist government. In 1959, reportedly under pressure from the then Congress president, Indira Gandhi, the Nehru government invoked Article 371 to dismiss the EMS government, which enjoyed a majority in the Assembly. Thereafter, successive Union governments, with support from pliable governors, have dismissed inconvenient state governments and imposed President’s Rule in Opposition-ruled states. This tendency peaked in the 1970s and 80s under Indira and Rajiv. Parties such as the CPM, citing the examples of Kerala and West Bengal, used to campaign against the Centre’s “step-motherly treatment” of Opposition-run states. This was the backdrop of the Sarkaria Commission (1983) that looked into Centre-state relations and made numerous proposals for its improvement. Despite Modi’s assurances, federalism seems to have taken a knock as an ambitious BJP seeks to dominate the polity at all costs. The ongoing controversy over the Vedanta-Foxconn project, which this newspaper has tracked in depth, as well as the mass defections in Goa seem like a throwback to the 1970s and 80s, when the Congress used to ignore constitutional and institutional propriety to further its political goals.Last week, it was announced that the Rs 1.54 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn project, originally planned for Maharashtra, would come up in Gujarat. The Opposition in Maharashtra alleged that the Centre used its leverage over the promoters to shift the project to Gujarat. Until recently, the Maha Vikas Aghadi, an anti BJP alliance, was in office in Mumbai. Moreover, Gujarat is headed for elections later this year. This war of words between the BJP-Shiv Sena (Eknath Shinde faction) and the MVA has threatened to open old fault lines in federal relations as well as the state’s political economy. Also, ethnic tensions that date back to the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement in the 1950s have started to feature in political debates. Girish Kuber (‘A troubling trend’, September 16) fleshed out the details of the controversy while an editorial (‘Whose project’, September 16) cautioned against an emerging chill in Centre -state relations. The editorial said: “There is no reason why cities or states within India must not compete among themselves for investment and industry. In fact, they should. At the same time, the political gloves are off, Centre-state chill is deepening, many MLAs have become fungible assets, making for tricky terrain when it comes to who decides to invest where. The stakes are high when the fault lines run deep, watch this space.”The defection of eight Congress MLAs in Goa to the BJP, reminiscent of similar movements in Arunachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka, exposed the lead Opposition party’s inability to keep its flock together in the absence of power. An editorial (‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’, September 15) pointed out the weakening of the Opposition space as the BJP seeks to consolidate the political space. If the slogan was Congress-mukt Bharat in 2014, today it seems to be Opposition-mukt Bharat. As majorities are upturned or enhanced, the anti-defection law, which was introduced in the 1980s with the intent to raise the bar for party hopping, has been thoroughly exposed. Legislators seem ready to switch sides shamelessly — in Goa, the elections were held as recently as March — with the confidence that voters may be willing to condone their act. In Karnataka, most of the MLAs who defected got reelected on their new party symbol. Perhaps, Parliament should tweak the anti-defection law and ask defecting legislators to sit out one term before they seek endorsement of voters in their new avatar!As the Opposition space gets squeezed elsewhere, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that his government will provide breakfast to primary school students. This is in addition to the universal mid-day meal scheme that has been a part of public education in the state since the 1980s. What is interesting is that Stalin has sought to give a political spin to his initiative by stating that the scheme is welfare, not a freebie, and it is his “duty” to provide such welfare. The breakfast scheme is part of a slew of initiatives in the education sector that Tamil Nadu has introduced in recent months. These interventions in education are framed as conscious political acts and in step with the Dravidian Model of governance as against the preference of Hindutva politics for a polarising nationalism and other majoritarian agendas. This could become the core of a new Opposition politics.One of cinema’s greatest auteurs departed last week. Jean-Luc Godard, French director and film theorist, reportedly died by assisted suicide at the age of 91 in Switzerland. Godard was one of the leaders of the French New Wave and inspired filmmakers all over the world. His films were political to the core and constantly explored the politics of the image and sound. He constantly reinvented himself as an artist to keep his autonomy and agency and from being appropriated by the state and its institutions as well as to keep up with upheavals in politics, science and technology. C S Venkiteswaran (‘Conscience of cinema’, September 14) and Amrit Gangar (‘Godard on the Borivali local’, September 15) wrote touching tributes to the maestro.Last week also saw a new development in the Gyanvapi mosque case, with a district court in Varanasi agreeing to hear a plea by five Hindu devotees that their right to worship at the site be protected (‘Law and politics’, September 13). The hearing is set to begin on September 22. Faizan Mustafa (‘Not by the law’, September 13) warned against over-dependence on litigation to maintain social harmony.That’s all for this week.Thank you,AmrithAmrith Lal is Deputy Editor with the Opinion team

The downslide in federal relations
RG warns of stir, wants defectors to contest again
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

Panaji: Indicating that larger protests at the constituency level would be held, Revolutionary Goans Party on Sunday demanded that the eight MLAs who switched over from Congress to BJP should resign and contest elections again. Revolutionary Goans held a symbolic peaceful protest at Azad Maidan, Panaji, where party volunteers from the constituencies represented by the eight MLAs said that voters are disgusted by the incident. “Ours is a symbolic protest, this is just the beginning. We will have different protests in the coming months. This is just a warning,” said RGP founder president Manoj Parab. He said that the eight MLAs jumped ship to earn a share from the mega investment projects that are expected to come into Goa in the coming months. “Multi-crore projects including golf courses, residential schools, race courses, yoga centres and hotels will be coming in each constituency and that is why these MLAs have changed their party so that they can get a share from the projects,” Parab said. He also criticised voters for accepting money from the MLAs in exchange for votes. “When people take money to vote, they surrender the right to question the MLA. This is increasing in Goa,” Parab said. The party also said the incident proves that Congress and BJP are two sides of the same coin. “BJP and Congress were united even before the elections and this whole thing was just drama to hoodwink people,” said the party’s lone MLA Viresh Borkar. “BJP and Congress created drama to cheat the people and enrich themselves. It is time for people to open their eyes.”

RG warns of stir, wants defectors to contest again
Doing ‘God’s work’ to seeds of expansion: Dissecting Kejriwal speech at AAP’s first national convention
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday tore into the BJP at the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) first national convention in the national capital that was attended by almost 1,500 elected representatives of the party from 20 states.Kejriwal, several of whose party colleagues are facing either facing corruption allegations or have been arrested over graft charges, framed the fight against the BJP as a struggle against “evil”. He also spoke of Gujarat, where the party is trying to make headway in the run-up to the coming Assembly elections, and brought up the “revdi” debate.Here are five broad topics that the AAP leader touched upon in his speech.Good versus evil“Like Lord Krishna was sent to end evil, God has sent the AAP to end corruption, inflation, unemployment, and save the Constitution and country from evils,” the Delhi CM told his party colleagues.Emphasising that the AAP’s formation was an act of divine intervention, Kejriwal said “god had to come and intervene, and in 2012 the AAP was formed to save the government and the country”. He added, “This is not some coincidence. .. God has given us the responsibility and each one of you has to keep up to that and work for development.”The AAP has always emphasised the importance of believers in its scheme of things, with the Delhi government in 2018 launching an initiative under which the government bears the cost of senior citizens’ travel to pilgrimage sites. Since then, the party has made a similar promise in states where it is looking to establish its presence, including Goa, Uttarakhand, and now Gujarat.BJP and ‘revdi’Kejriwal told his AAP colleagues that BJP was jealous of the popularity of the party’s politics of honesty. “They can’t bear our honesty. There are some things about AAP that they cannot bear — education, healthcare facilities and schemes which they call ‘revdi’. Their leaders have never spoken about education and healthcare facilities.”Last month, targeting the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his comments on “revdi”, or freebie, politics, Kejriwal said people calling welfare schemes “free ki revdi (sweets)” were “traitors” to the country and asked what was wrong with providing free education, health, and electricity to citizens.The AAP leader kept up his attack on Modi on Sunday, saying, “They are buying MLAs and then they stand on the ramparts of the Red Fort and say ‘I am fighting against corruption.’ He is not fighting corruption, he is fighting AAP.”Arrests of AAP leadersThe AAP has increasingly come under pressure over the arrests of its senior leaders in corruption cases and allegations of corruption against others. The latest to be arrested is MLA Amanatullah Khan who was arrested last Friday in a two-year-old case on alleged irregularities in the Delhi Waqf Board.Accusing the BJP of launching the second phase of “Operation Lotus” (in 2008, the BJP allegedly planned to engineer the defections of seven Opposition MLAs), the Delhi CM said, “Their phase-Il failed in Delhi and Punjab. So now they have arrested Amanatullah Khan in a fake case. Many of our MLAs have again started receiving calls from the BJP with offers of Rs 25 crore. They are being threatened that if you do not join BJP, you will also be arrested like Amanatullah Khan.”Kejriwal told his party colleagues that the way AAP MLAs were facing possible inquiries by central agencies was “not a small thing”. He added. “They (the BJP) want to put all of them (AAP leaders) in jail … You all should be ready to go to jail for three to four months … They won’t be able to do anything … Jail is not that bad … we stayed in jail for 15 days … If everyone gets this courage, they won’t be able to anything to us. “The CM also spoke of Satyendra Jain, who is in jail at present in a money laundering case, and said the former health minister should be given a Bharat Ratna for the work he has done to date. Kejriwal also referred to the accusations against his deputy Manish Sisodia and claimed state Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot was now being targeted.The seeds AAP plantedAt the start of his speech, Kejriwal said that 10 years ago, when the party was formed, he could not have imagined that one day so many representatives of his outfit would be present at the Indira Gandhi stadium in Delhi.The CM said AAP was planting seeds across India and these seeds would grow into strong trees, like in Delhi and Punjab. He hoped that like in Delhi and Punjab, AAP would get fruitful results in Gujarat. Since the landslide victory in Punjab, the AAP has its eyes on the western state apart from Himachal Pradesh, where it is not that strong organisationally at the moment. Earlier this year, the party made a foray into Goa and opened its account with two MLAs.“Seeds were planted in Delhi and Punjab and the plant has grown strong … We have planted seeds in Gujarat also and these seeds will grow very strong and become trees,” Kejriwal said. Referring to the party’s 27 councillors in the Surat Municipal Corporation, the AAP chief said, “A year-and-a-half ago, we planted 27 seeds in Gujarat and they are going to become strong trees.”Vision for futureExplaining his vision for the country, Kejriwal said work was required to ensure education, health and employment for people, equal opportunity for women and girls, and world-class infrastructure for farmers.Last month, the Delhi CM launched his ‘Mission to Make India number 1’ campaign. His five-point vision comprised free education; healthcare; employment; respect, dignity, equality and safety of women; and a fair price for farm crops.

Doing ‘God’s work’ to seeds of expansion: Dissecting Kejriwal speech at AAP’s first national convention
‘AAP is like Lord Krishna, was sent to end evil’: Arvind Kejriwal sharpens attack on BJP, PM Modi
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal Sunday sharpened his attacks on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the party’s first national convention.“Like lord Krishna was sent to end evil, god has sent AAP to end corruption, inflation, unemployment and save the constitution and country from evils,” he said, addressing a gathering of around 1,500 elected representatives of the AAP from around 20 states, including Punjab, Goa, Haryana.“Ten years ago, when the Aam Aadmi Party was formed, I never thought that there would be so many representatives that the Indira Gandhi stadium would fill up. Lord Krishna was born to end evil… Kanha ne rakshas ka vadh kiya… waise hi bhagwan ne AAP banaya hai,” he said.Attacking the Congress and the BJP, he said, “India adopted the Constitution on November 25, 1949, and in the next 60 years, these people destroyed the country. Later, God had to come and intervene and in 2012 AAP was formed to save the government and the country… This is not some coincidence… God has given us the responsibility and each one of you has to keep up to that and work for development.”“Seeds were planted in Delhi and Punjab and the plant has grown strong… We have planted seeds in Gujarat also and these seeds will grow very strong and become trees. ”Referring to the 27 councillors in the Surat municipal corporation, Kejriwal said: “A year and a half ago, we planted 27 seeds in Gujarat and they are going to become strong trees. Like lord Krishna, we are fighting against corruption, inflation, unemployment…agar dusri party wale mehngayi kam karte to hume log laat maar ke bhaga dete… But we are fighting against corruption and inflation. That is why people like us.”He said that people like the AAP because of its honest politics and honesty and that is what the opposition (BJP) cannot bear. “They can’t bear our honesty. There are some things about AAP that they can’t bear — education, healthcare facilities and schemes which they call ‘revdi’. Their leaders have never spoken about education and healthcare facilities.”Reacting to Amanatullah Khan’s arrest, Kejriwal accused BJP of launching phase -II of ‘Operation Lotus’. “Their phase-Il failed in Delhi and Punjab. So now they have arrested Amanatullah Khan in a fake case. Many of our MLAs have again started receiving calls from BJP with offers of Rs 25 crore. They are being threatened that if you will not join BJP, you will also face arrest like Amanatullah Khan.”“I have not seen India’s fight for freedom… but how our MLAs are fighting the opposition, rejecting offers of Rs 25-25 crores, facing CBI ED, it is not a small thing… They want to put all of them in Jail… You all should be ready to go to jail for 3-4 months…They won’t be able to do anything…Jail is not that bad…we stayed there in Jail for 15 days…agar sabke andar ye himmat aajaye wo humara kuch nahi bigad sakte,” Kejriwal added.The chief minister said Satyendar Jain, who is currently in jail in a money laundering case, should be given Bharat Ratna. “If he was in any other country, he would have been honoured for the work he did in the health and power sector. He brought mohalla clinics, free electricity, hospitals… He should be given the Bharat Ratna. When they failed to produce anything against Jain in court, they targeted Manish Sisodia but could find nothing… They raided his house, bank locker and questioned his villagers… They found nothing but a jhunjhuna that he bought for his son when he was a child… Now they are going after Kailash Gahlot… Don’t fear going to jail, jail is not bad, no matter what, we have to work for our country and make India number 1,” he said.Kejriwal was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on the stage. Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was also supposed to come for the event but party officials said he was in Germany. All MLAs and MPs from Punjab and Delhi ministers Gopal Rai, Kailash Gahlot, Delhi Jal Board vice-chairman Saurabh Bhardwaj and MP Sanjay Singh were also present in the meeting.Hitting out at Modi, Kejriwal said, “They spent Rs 8-9 thousand crore to buy MLAs… They are buying MLA and then they stand on the ramparts of the Red Fort and say ‘I am fighting against corruption… He is not fighting corruption, he is fighting against the AAP.”“Our main mission is to make India Number 1 and for this, we have to work on four sectors — education, health, employment, equal opportunity to women and girls, world-class infrastructure and facilities for farmers. 75 years ago, everyone came together and kicked Britishers out…Now, we all have to come together to make our country number 1. We have launched a missed call number, join us and spread this across the city and country to make India number 1. Today, we have 1,446 representatives in 20 states and union territories… It includes MLA, MP, zila panchayat members etc,” Kejriwal added.

‘AAP is like Lord Krishna, was sent to end evil’: Arvind Kejriwal sharpens attack on BJP, PM Modi
Days before defection, Goa body gave police nod to prosecute Lobos
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: The North Goa planning and development authority (NGPDA) has granted its approval to Mapusa police to prosecute Calangute MLA and former leader of opposition Michael Lobo, and his wife, Siolim MLA Delilah Lobo, in the alleged land filling case at Parra. The NGPDA falls under TCP minister Vishwajit Rane. The Lobo couple were among the eight former Congress MLAs who defected to BJP on Wednesday. A senior government official said that the permission to go ahead with the prosecution was given before the Lobos joined BJP. Michael said on Saturday that the case was political as he was in the “other party”. “There was no land filling. It is agricultural land, and if they want, I will remove that mud. It is an access for other farmers to take agricultural equipment to other fields.” FIR was filed against Lobo, wife for illegal land filling at ParraMapusa police had written to the TCP department seeking permission to prosecute the Lobos. The department then forwarded the request to the NGPDA, which granted its consent. Mapusa police inspector Paresh Naik confirmed that they have received the letter from NGPDA with regards to prosecution. In May 2022, Mapusa police had registered an FIR against the Lobo couple for illegal filling of land at Parra. The FIR had been registered based on a complaint filed by NGPDA. The Lobos have been booked under Section 17B of the Goa Town and Country Planning Act, 1974, under which the offence is punishable with imprisonment of one year and fine of Rs 1 lakh or both. The FIR had stated that the illegality was carried out at Parra prior to November 11, 2020, when Michael was a minister in the BJP government. He held the waste management and science and technology portfolios from July 2019 till he resigned and switched to Congress ahead of the 2022 polls. Any land area which is 50cm or lower from the adjoining ground area is classified as low-lying. The NGPDA had told the police that it had received a complaint from Rama Matondkar that the land had been filled up with mud up to four meters. The NGPDA had said that an inspection confirmed the illegality.

Days before defection, Goa body gave police nod to prosecute Lobos
Cong: Beach cleaning agency inefficient, contract a scam
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

Panaji: The huge amount of trash collected from Goa’s beaches as part of the International Coastal Cleanup Day proves the inefficiency of the agency tasked with keeping Goa’s beaches clean, Congress said on Saturday. Congress state president Amit Patkar further alleged that the contract awarded to Karnataka Commercial and Industrial Corporation (KCIC) Pvt Ltd is a scam. “It is shocking to see chief minister Pramod Sawant, Union minister Shripad Naik, tourism minister Rohan Khaunte and BJP president Sadanand Tanawade collecting huge garbage from various beaches across Goa. This proves that the beach cleaning contractor appointed by the government is not doing anything,” Patkar added.In October 2019, the department of tourism awarded the beach cleaning contract to the Bengaluru-based company. KCIC has been tasked with carrying out comprehensive beach cleaning services across 37 major beaches in Goa.To mark the International Coastal Cleanup Day, various agencies, students and citizens picked up plastic waste, torn nets, vegetation debris and other discarded material from Goa’s beaches. Sawant, Khaunte, the Indian Coast Guard and other agencies posted several photographs of the trash collected. Congress used these pictures to claim that their allegations of a scam are vindicated.“I urge new BJP MLAs Digambar Kamat and Aleixo Sequeira to demand with the chief minister to scrap the beach cleaning contract and save almost Rs 60 crore from the state exchequer,” Patkar said. “I appeal to the CM to organise such drives every week and engage local panchayats in beach cleaning work. They will do the work with cost effectiveness and our beaches will also remain clean.”The beach cleaning contract has been mired in allegations of corruption and inefficiency which had prompted the lokayukta to order an inquiry into the beach cleaning scam under the two contractors Ram Cleaners & Developers and Bhumika Cleantec Services.

Cong: Beach cleaning agency inefficient, contract a scam
Newsmakers of the Week | Ex-Goa Congress leaders, Bihar agriculture minister, J&K Gujjar leader
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Two Goa Congress leaders who jumped ship and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), J&K Gujjar leader who was nominated to the Rajya Sabha, and Bihar minister who has created a stir by openly flagging corruption in his department — we bring to you the Newsmakers of the Week.Former Goa Chief Minister Digambar KamatThe most senior of the 11 Congress MLAs in Goa, former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat this week joined the BJP along with seven others. In April, in a rejig, the Congress made Kamat a permanent member of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s top body. Kamat, who was the Leader of Opposition in the previous Assembly, was divested of any responsibilities in the state in the Congress’s bid to promote its next generation. He took a backseat after that and described himself as “retired hurt”. As he joins the BJP, a look at Kamat’s political journey.Former Congress leader Michael LoboAlong with Kamat, the other leaders who quit the Goa Congress last week include former Leader of Opposition (LoP) Michael Lobo. Two months ago, the Congress had accused Lobo of plotting a defection of its MLAs along with Kamat. It had then also sought the disqualification of Kamat and Lobo as MLAs. As Lobo returns to the BJP, read Mayura Janwalkar’s report on the three-time MLA from Calangute who was a minister in the previous BJP government led by chief minister Pramod Sawant but was often at odds with the government over statements he made in the press. More From Political PulseWith KCR in line of BJP fire in Telangana, TRS turns up heat on Modi govt policiesAshok Gehlot favours Rahul Gandhi as chief, Rajasthan Cong meeting supports moveHappy birthday, PM, but 'ideological and political' battles will continue, says OppnClick here for more J&K Gujjar leader Ghulam Ali KhatanaGhulam Ali Khatana, a BJP leader from the Gujjar Muslim community, may not be the first Gujjar leader from Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to make it to the Rajya Sabha, but his nomination to the Upper House seems to have enthused the tribal community in the Union Territory. By nominating him to the Rajya Sabha, the BJP leadership has sought to not only send out a message to the nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals belonging to the Muslim community that it recognises their “nationalist” character, but also to its rank and file that party activists working silently would be rewarded. Read Arun Sharma’s report on the leader who played a role in creating awareness among Muslims in favour of the Centre’s move abrogating Article 370.CPM leader AN ShamseerHours after being elected Speaker of the Kerala Assembly, CPI(M) leader A N Shamseer earlier this week took to Facebook to quote British author George Eliot. “Never judge a book by its cover,” he wrote. Shamseer, whose mentor is former state secretary Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, had a reason to recollect the novelist’s words. It is a new chapter in the political career of the 45-year-old CPI(M) leader, who has been known for disrupting House proceedings on several occasions. Former speaker M B Rajesh pulled up Shamseer many times, urging him to maintain order in the House. Now, it is his turn to ensure the smooth running of the Assembly and protect the rights of the Opposition.Bihar agriculture minister and RJD leader Sudhakar SinghBihar agriculture minister and RJD MLA from Ramgarh, Sudhakar Singh, has created a stir by openly flagging corruption in his department and accusing his own government led by Chief Minister and JD(U) supremo Nitish Kumar of not listening to him. The son of state RJD president Jagdanand Singh, Sudhakar says he is not at all apologetic about calling himself “choron ke sardar”.

Newsmakers of the Week | Ex-Goa Congress leaders, Bihar agriculture minister, J&K Gujjar leader
Goa congress dissolves all its block committees
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: Two days after eight of its MLAs joined BJP, Congress on Friday dissolved all its block committees in the state with immediate effect. The block committees will be reconstituted in consultation with party workers in due course of time, state Congress general secretary Sunil Kawthankar said. Party president Amit Patkar said that the defeat of the BJP-supported candidate in the election for the Margao Municipal Council chairperson’s post has proved that the mandate is against the anti-democratic BJP. Ghanashyam Shirodkar, a candidate backed by GFP MLA Vijai Sardesai won the election. Congress is yet to elect a legislative party leader. It has been left with three MLAs — Yuri Alemao, Carlos Ferreira and Altone D’Costa — in the state assembly. A source said that Congress will take some time before a legislative party leader is elected and they are not yet sure if the party will be able to retain the post of opposition leader though it has more numbers than other opposition parties. The AAP has two seats, GFP and RGP one each. Though all the three Congress MLAs are first-timers, the source said, either Alemao or Ferreira may be elected to head the party’s legislative wing. “We want one of our three MLAs to be made the opposition leader, but we do not know what the others (parties) have in mind,” the source said. Congress has been without a legislative party leader since July, after the first attempt of its MLAs to leave the party failed. It had then declared that former opposition leader Michael Lobo will not be the legislative party leader.

Goa congress dissolves all its block committees
Party-hopping in Goa: ‘Family Raj & UT mentality’ among factors influencing voters
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Not its beaches or scenic beauty, Goa now finds itself in the spotlight for its precarious politics defined by moments such as the defection of eight Congress MLAs to the BJP on Wednesday, effecting the merger of two-thirds of the Congress Legislature Party with the BJP for the second time in three years.Defections, mergers, and resignations are not alien to the rest of India. But, given their frequency in Goa in the last 50-plus years, few in the state were surprised by the latest episode. Here are five broad factors that influence the people of Goa, once described as “ajeeb (strange)” by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, when they choose their public representatives.Just a very large villageWhat is striking about Goa’s politics is that Assembly constituencies are small and victory margins can sometimes be in two digits. Most MLAs know the residents of their constituencies by their first name. On festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi, which is celebrated in Goa as Chovoth or Christmas, some MLAs visit the homes of nearly all their voters to greet them personally. They make assurances in terms of securing government jobs for their constituents or helping them get various permissions for their businesses.Former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who quit the BJP ahead of the Assembly election in February and contested as an Independent, said, “It is a small state with small constituencies. Where there are 25,000 to 30,000 voters, getting 10,000 can make you win. So what happens is that one can get about 4,000-5,000 votes on their goodwill or personal help that they may have extended to some people and about 5,000 to 6,000 votes can just be bought. Elections are like an investment and that is why MLAs want to be in power to recover these investments. I am not accusing all MLAs but this has been very common and it will not change until the people decide that their votes cannot be bought.”Personalities over partiesPolitical families in various parts of Goa have a tight grip on their constituencies and the voters have placed faith not on the parties that their MLAs belong to but on the individual, trusting them to get their work done. In various talukas, these families have been in power despite shifting loyalties from one party to another. Former Goa Chief Minister Pratap Singh Rane remained an undefeated Congress MLA in the Poriem seat of Sattari taluka for 45 years. But as soon as the octogenarian withdrew from the election fray before the Assembly polls this year, his daughter-in-law Deviya Rane made her political debut from Poriem as a BJP candidate and scored the highest winning margin of 13,943 in the state.Similarly, in the Tiswadi taluka of which Panaji is a part, Goa Revenue Minister Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate exerts a similar hold. He and his wife Jennifer have both been elected from the neighbouring constituencies of Panaji and Taleigao respectively on Congress tickets in the 2017 elections and a bypoll in 2019. They won this year’s Assembly polls from the BJP. Their son Rohit is the mayor of the Panaji city corporation.Double engine mattersWhile it may appear from a distance that party ideology does not seem to matter to the Goan electorate, the author of Ajeeb Goa’s Gajab politics (Strange Goa’s astonishing politics) Sandesh Prabhudesai begs to differ. “If that was the case, Michael Lobo would have never gone to the Congress. He comes from a Christian-dominated constituency, ” he said.The writer explained that Lobo’s previous victories from the BJP and that of five other Christian MLAs came at a time when the church had backed five Christian MLAs from the BJP to teach the Congress a lesson. He said, “Though the minority is about 25 per cent of the population in Goa, they are concentrated in 24 constituencies out of 40. That is more than half the constituencies. That is why even though they are a minority, they become the majority. It is a funny thing.”Prabhudesai also said that Goa had a “UT mentality”. “In 2014, the Narendra Modi government came to power at the Centre. In Goa, right from the beginning, the double-engine government has worked. Since it was a Union Territory (UT) before, it was dependent on the Centre. The mentality is also the UT mentality but by the time the 2022 election came, it was just not possible for the Church to support the BJP anymore. That’s the reason you’ll see many Christian MLAs of the BJP were defeated. You cannot say that the ideology does not matter anymore. For politicians, it may not matter but for the people it does,” the author said.Overlapping interests in land, businesses and politicsIn a state where tourism and, until 10 years ago, mining were the mainstays, many politicians have interests in these businesses or have been traditional landholders. Their businesses generate employment in their constituencies or in some constituencies, people may be beholden to them because they own land. Many MLAs across parties including have large interests in tourism. They own resorts and restaurants and tourism allied activities. Other MLAs are related to the mining business or allied mining activities, Prabhudesai pointed out.Religion and casteEven if the BJP is seen as a party pandering to its predominantly Hindu vote bank, the party formed its third consecutive government in a state that is still perceived as secular. While religion and caste do play a role in how elected representatives are chosen, they play out a little differently in Goa. Christian MLAs do win in seats dominated by the minority but some win even in seats dominated by Hindus like the Monserrates in Panaji and Taleigao. The Christian-dominated taluka of Salcete remains a hard turf for the BJP to break into but its Hindu MLA won a seat in the taluka this election – thanks to Opposition votes splitting three ways. But few play the religion or caste card in the election campaign.Academicians said candidates who win from various constituencies in the state generally represent the demographic of that constituency. Like a Christian candidate may win in a constituency that has a higher Christian population and similarly a Bhandari candidate may win in seats that have more Bhandari voters, but votes are never sought on those grounds.

Party-hopping in Goa: ‘Family Raj & UT mentality’ among factors influencing voters
  • Goa: ‘Unrecognised in party, left disappointed’
  • Times of India

    VASCO: Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar, who joined BJP on Wednesday along with seven of his colleagues, said that he was forced to leave Congress as it failed to help grow his political career. "I have served the party for the past about 25 years. The party failed to recognise my hard work. I was expecting the GPCC president's post and leader of opposition, but the party leaders disappointed me. I was forced to leave the party amidst disappointments," Amonkar told TOI. Stating that he was always worried about developmental works in his constituency as also the employment issues facing the youth of Mormugao, Amonkar said, "These were possible only if I was in the ruling. I have gone through BJP's manifesto for Mormugao. I will see that all works listed are fulfilled." He said that he will ensure that all problems plaguing the constituency are resolved.

Goa: Each MLA was paid Rs 40 crore to quit Congress, says Gundu Rao
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: A day after eight MLAs deserted Congress, the party's Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao alleged that each was given Rs 40 crore in addition to offers of ministerships and heads of corporations in a bid to split Congress. The legislators, he said, quit for "selfish reasons" and not for the development of their constituencies as some of them claimed. "One MLA was unwilling (to jump ship), and stakes went up to Rs 50 crore. They left purely because of money and power, and some due to the threats of action against them," Rao said. Terming the eight MLAs as "garbage", Rao said the first lot went in 2019, and the second lot, now. He apologised to the people and admitted that the party's judgment of the eight legislators was wrong. "No injustice was done to the MLAs," he said and explained that they were given tickets on the premise that they would work as responsible legislators whether in the government or in the opposition. "They have betrayed not just us but also the people of Goa and God. It is shameful what BJP and the eight MLAs have done." Rao also blamed former chief minister Digambar Kamat and former opposition leader Michael Lobo for breaking the party. The two, he said, were at the forefront of the split despite having taken the lead in pledging loyalty to Congress at a temple, church and mosque, and also signing affidavits ahead of the February 2022 polls. "We thought Lobo was a lion but he proved to be a rat," he said. "Congress is fighting BJP to stop the use of money and government institutions to grab power at any cost. Our fight will continue. The Bharat Jodo yatra led by Rahul Gandhi is to stop the wrongs of BJP." Stating that the party will be reorganised within a month, Rao said the three remaining Congress MLAs will be more effective and prove to be a strong opposition.

Goa: Each MLA was paid Rs 40 crore to quit Congress, says Gundu Rao
  • Day after Goa defections, Congress says BJP paid each of the 8 MLAs Rs 30-40 crore
  • The Indian Express

    A day after eight of its 11 MLAs left the party and joined the BJP, the Congress alleged that the BJP gave each of the legislators “Rs 30-40 crore” to make the switch.All India Congress Committee (AICC) Goa Desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said on Thursday that the reasons the MLAs defected to the BJP were “power, money and the threats of agencies or government action against them”.“I have collected information, each of these people were given Rs 30-40 crore. For one of our MLAs who was not ready to go, the stakes went up to Rs 50 crore plus a ministry. Where is the money coming from? The money is coming from big business houses, (from) all the corruption they are doing,” Rao said. “They spent Rs 240 crore on eight MLAs. Who funded them and for what purpose?” he asked.The BJP denied the allegations. “We did not go seeking any MLAs. They formed their group and said that they want to join our party. We have not given a single rupee to anyone or made any promises. They have come on their own and they have come unconditionally. The Congress only wants to make such allegations against us to divert people’s attention,” Sadanand Tanavade, the BJP’s Goa unit president, said.He also said the decision regarding the induction of the eight Congress MLAs was taken by the BJP’s central leadership: “The local unit cannot take such a big decision on its own… Had this proposal come to me personally, then I would have perhaps said no.” He said that the Congress MLAs had attempted a cross over in July, but the move did not come through. When they could gather the required numbers, they informed the BJP’s central leadership, which then asked the state leaders to induct them into the party, Tanavade said.Congress’s Rao said his party had erred in picking its election candidates. Regarding former Leader of Opposition Micheal Lobo, who came to the Congress from the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls in February only to return to the BJP on Wednesday, Rao said, “We thought he was a tiger but he turned out to be mouse.”While MLAs who defected, like Lobo and Sankalp Amonkar, had claimed that there was in-fighting in the Congress and that the party had been unfair to its long-time members and senior leaders, Rao rubbished their claims. “The Congress party has done no wrong, no injustice to these eight people… What they have done is shameful. It is like betraying your own mother,” he said.Rao, however, admitted that the Congress made a mistake in getting the Lobos — Micheal and his wife Delilah — on board. “I cannot say we are not at fault,” he said.“I humbly apologise to the people of Goa… Our judgement has gone wrong, I admit,” said Rao.Asked about the party not being able to keep its flock together, Rao said, “If somebody put Rs 30 crore in front of them, then what will we do? We cannot chain them.”Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox“People are angry with us, but we won’t stop. We will go out and win the hearts of the people… The Congress party has not split. Eight betrayers, eight frauds have left… We will take this as a challenge and go back to the people,” he said. He added that the Congress’s doors would be shut to them forever.Meanwhile, the Goa legislative Assembly notified the merger of two-thirds of the Congress’s legislature party with the BJP’s legislature party. “Hon’ble Speaker has taken note of the same and accordingly, seats are allotted to the (eight) members as members of Bhartiya Janata Party in the House,” the notification stated.Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said that he would visit Delhi with the newly inducted MLAs, but the date was yet to be finalised. He said a meeting with BJP national president J P Nadda, Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be lined up.

  • Goa: BJP lured away our eight MLAs by offering Rs 40-50 crore to each, claims Congress state in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao
  • Times of India

    PANAJI: A day after eight Congress MLAs in Goa joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, the grand old party on Thursday accused the ruling outfit of luring away the legislators by offering Rs 40-50 crore to each one of them. Read AlsoEight of Cong’s 11 Goa MLAs break away, merge with BJPEight months after they did a run of a temple, a chapel and a mosque taking vows not to defect from Congress and even signing an affidavit pledging their loyalty to the party, eight of the 11 Congress MLAs “merged” the Goa Congress Legislature Party into BJP on Wednesday, taking the saffron party’sCongress's Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, who arrived in Goa in the wake of the political developments in the coastal state, made these allegations in a press conference. The BJP, however, rubbished the charges saying that the eight Congress legislators joined the ruling party not for monetary gains but because they were impressed by its development agenda. The eight Congress MLAs, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat, on Wednesday joined the ruling BJP, dealing a body blow to the opposition party which is now left with just three MLAs in the 40-member Assembly. "Money to the tune of Rs 40-50 crore was paid to each MLA to switch over, or maybe they were having the fear of the central agencies. The national party (BJP) is doing such things everywhere. Where is all this money coming from? They are misusing the power. They are breaking the elected representatives," Rao alleged. The BJP is coming with thousands of crores of rupees and targeting the opposition MLAs through agencies like Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), he claimed. "Has even one ED notice been issued to any BJP MLA? This is the kind of politics that we are fighting against. If we don't fight, then the country will be destroyed," he said. Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Amit Patkar said one of the MLAs was initially approached (by the BJP) with Rs 30 crore cash, but he was not ready for that amount. Hence, in order to convince him, additional Rs 10 crore were offered to him within two hours. "But since he was not willing even after that, he was given Rs 5 crore more, only after which he agreed," he said without naming the MLA. During the press conference, Rao lashed out at Michael Lobo, one of the MLAs who joined the BJP, calling him a "rat". "We thought he (Lobo) was a lion, but he turned out to be a rat. There is no leadership quality in him," Rao said, adding that the Congress had consulted several people before giving a ticket to Lobo and they had given a positive feedback. "We thought that he will remain in the Congress. We gave him ticket and supported him. At that point of time, it was a right decision. We felt that his coming in was good for us. But it was a mistake for us to take such kind of a person," he said. The BJP retained power in the coastal state after the state Assembly elections in February this year. Before the Congress MLAs joined the BJP on Wednesday, the ruling party had 20 MLAs in the Assembly. The Congress' strength has now came down to three. BJP's Goa unit president Sadanad Shet Tanavade, however, dismissed the Congress's allegations. He said the eight legislators joined the BJP not for monetary gains, but because they were impressed by the party's development agenda. "BJP's central leadership gave a green signal to the induction of these eight MLAs, who have joined without any condition," Tanavade said. He said the Congress MLAs realised that their party was getting vanished and that the BJP was working on the agenda of development. PTI RPS KRK NP NP

Goa: After shift in alliances, all eyes on election for Margao Municipal Council chief today
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

MARGAO: Margao MLA Digambar Kamat's switch to BJP has turned political equations in the Margao Municipal Council (MMC) topsy turvy. With the elections for the new chairperson to be held on Friday, the altered political math has put a big question mark over the continuity or otherwise of the civic alliance forged between the panels propped by Kamat and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai. On Thursday, Kamat's blue-eyed boy, Damodar Shirodkar, filed his nomination papers for the post of chairperson. Independent Ghanashyam Shirodkar, too, has filed his nomination papers whose candidature has interestingly been seconded by BJP-affiliated councillors - Camilo Barreto, Mahesh Amonkar and Sunita Paradkar. As per the terms of alliance between the coalition partners, it's the Kamat-panel's turn to have its councillor nominated for the post.

Goa: After shift in alliances, all eyes on election for Margao Municipal Council chief today
  • Goa: Congress’ move leaves room for opposition parties to make inroads into its south bastion
  • Times of India

    PANAJI: The move by eight Congress legislators to jump ship and join BJP, the second such instance in three years, has come as a blessing in disguise for the remaining political parties. While the desertion will further damage Congress morale, it will also create a vacuum that fledgling parties such as GFP, AAP and RG can exploit and fill. The political developments validate what AAP and RG said before the February assembly elections, something that Congress voters will remember grudgingly, said political analysts. Already on the downslide, Congress is now related to scattered pockets and can no longer claim South Goa or even Salcete as its bastion. This leaves the path wide open for GFP, AAP, TMC, NCP and RG to make inroads. "It will be difficult for Congress to win back the trust of god-fearing people," GFP president Vijai Sardesai said. "People have a trust deficit. We have to now grow in all these constituencies. There is space for regional parties to grow." At an executive committee meeting held in August, GFP's office bearers agreed to expand the party's presence in newer constituencies. With just one seat in the 40-member house, GFP has no option but to ramp up its organisational presence in more constituencies if it wants to retain its party symbol and recognition. However, there are other players jostling to grab the opportunity that Congress-turned-BJP-legislators have created in the state. Congress had a 23% vote share in the 2022 assembly elections with a significant chunk coming from Margao, Calangute, Nuvem, St Cruz, Mormugao and Cumbarjua. "It is time for the people to realise that Congress cannot be trusted to take on BJP," said Trajano D'Mello, a former Congress spokesperson who has since joined TMC. "This is the end of Congress and now it will depend on who can convince the electorate to take the Congress space and sincerely take on the BJP." Sardesai feels that Goa's electorate is already disillusioned with the political games and may be averse to experimenting with new national parties. "Wherever Congress has abandoned its role as the principal opposition party, I don't think anybody else can stake a claim to this," Sardesai said. The latest entrant in Goa's political battlefield does not share this sentiment. RG's founder Manoj Parab said everyone wrote them off in the elections, but RG managed to surprise everyone by cornering 9% of the total votes polled. "The anti-BJP voter, who is against communal politics, today has only one option and that is RG. Everyone called us vote splitters. There are political analysts who wrote us off. Today, they cannot do this," said Parab. "In the next elections, we will grow from one to twenty one." As reports emerged on Wednesday about eight Congress MLAs huddling in the assembly complex to switch over to the saffron side, all the opposition parties were quick to point out that their claims about the Congress being BJP's B team have come true. And even before the dust had settled around the "merger" of the Congress legislature party with BJP, the other parties had begun chalking out their expansion strategy. "AAP is the only alternative today for Goa. It is not a question of how much it benefits us," said AAP state convener Amit Palekar. "Opportunity for AAP? Politically, yes. BJP's Operation Lotus, that is pay money and buy the MLA, has succeeded as far as Congress is concerned. Only party that has not succumbed is AAP." State Congress president Amit Patkar said that Congress cannot be written off. "The people are so fed up today that they will vote for Congress in the two Lok Sabha seats," said Patkar. "You cannot eradicate Congress from Goa."

  • Congress’ move leaves room for opposition parties to make inroads into its south bastion
  • Times of India

    Panaji: The move by eight Congress legislators to jump ship and join BJP, the second such instance in three years, has come as a blessing in disguise for the remaining political parties. While the desertion will further damage Congress morale, it will also create a vacuum that fledgling parties such as GFP, AAP and RG can exploit and fill. The political developments validate what AAP and RG said before the February assembly elections, something that Congress voters will remember grudgingly, said political analysts. Already on the downslide, Congress is now related to scattered pockets and can no longer claim South Goa or even Salcete as its bastion. This leaves the path wide open for GFP, AAP, TMC, NCP and RG to make inroads.“It will be difficult for Congress to win back the trust of god-fearing people. There are other parties that are waiting to feast on this opportunity,” GFP president Vijai Sardesai said. “People have a trust deficit. We have to now grow in all these constituencies. There is space for regional parties to grow.”At an executive committee meeting held in August, GFP’s office bearers agreed to expand the party’s presence in newer constituencies. With just one seat in the 40-member house, GFP has no option but to ramp up its organisational presence in more constituencies if it wants to retain its party symbol and recognition. However, there are other players jostling to grab the opportunity that Congress-turned-BJP-legislators have created in the state. Congress had a 23% vote share in the 2022 assembly elections with a significant chunk coming from Margao, Calangute, Nuvem, St Cruz, Mormugao and Cumbarjua. “It is time for the people to realise that Congress cannot be trusted to take on BJP,” said Trajano D’Mello, a former Congress spokesperson who has since joined TMC. “This is the end of Congress and now it will depend on who can convince the electorate to take the Congress space and sincerely take on the BJP.” Sardesai feels that Goa’s electorate is already disillusioned with the political games and may be averse to experimenting with new national parties.“Wherever Congress has abandoned its role as the principal opposition party, I don’t think anybody else can stake a claim to this,” Sardesai said. The latest entrant in Goa’s political battlefield does not share this sentiment. RG’s founder Manoj Parab said everyone wrote them off in the elections, but RG managed to surprise everyone by cornering 9% of the total votes polled. “The anti-BJP voter, who is against communal politics, today has only one option and that is RG. Everyone called us vote splitters. There are political analysts who wrote us off. Today, they cannot do this,” said Parab. “In the next elections, we will grow from one to twenty one.” As reports emerged on Wednesday about eight Congress MLAs huddling in the assembly complex to switch over to the saffron side, all the opposition parties were quick to point out that their claims about the Congress being BJP’s B team have come true. And even before the dust had settled around the “merger” of the Congress legislature party with BJP, the other parties had begun chalking out their expansion strategy. “AAP is the only alternative today for Goa. It is not a question of how much it benefits us,” said AAP state convener Amit Palekar. “Opportunity for AAP? Politically, yes. BJP’s Operation Lotus, that is pay money and buy the MLA, has succeeded as far as Congress is concerned. Only party that has not succumbed is AAP.” State Congress president Amit Patkar said that Congress cannot be written off. “The people are so fed up today that they will vote for Congress in the two Lok Sabha seats,” said Patkar. “You cannot eradicate Congress from Goa.”

Goa: Digambar Kamat gets a ‘call from god’, Goans ask for hotline number
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: The brazen move by eight Congress MLAs to break their vow and jump to BJP inspired a string of memes on social media platforms as the common man expressed displeasure with the hop, skip and jump displayed on Wednesday morning. Unable to deal with yet another political churn, the tech-savvy vented out in a no-holds barred effort to troll the legislators. Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, who claimed to have got the Almighty's blessings before changing his political loyalty, bore most of the brunt of the online satirists. From seeking matka numbers to calls for ordaining him as a cardinal, most people refused to fall for the former chief minister's claims of hearing heavenly voices. One particular meme that was quickly shared on WhatsApp said that Kamat spoke to God who informed him about the Kalyan matka winning combination of numbers. The meme went on to say that Kamat is the official spokesperson of God. Given that prayers of most devotees go unanswered, Michael Jude Gracias urged people to turn to Kamat for spiritual solace. "Devan tujem magnnem aikonk na zalear, Digambarak mell. Tache lagim Devacho hotline asa direct sorgar. (If God does not hear your prayers, go and meet Digambar. He has a hotline to heaven)," said Gracias. Kamat has attracted derision after he claimed that he went to a temple to explain to God his situation and his reason for joining BJP. Prior to the elections, he swore an oath at the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji and the Fulancho Khuris shrine at Bambolim, promising not to defect and join BJP. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters about his earlier oath, Kamat said, "God told me to take a decision. He is with me." One of the memes circulating on social media Memes not only from Goa, but across countryImpressed by Kamat’s piety and discernment, a Delhibased communication specialist Aftab Shaikh said the Margao MLA should be consecrated as Goa’s second cardinal as “he can directly communicate with god.” On Twitter, The Goan Pao, who often has a humorous take on everything Goan, joined in the rib-tickling. “I wanted to eat five cutlet paos yesterday and then God told me to decide accordingly and he would support me,” said the handle, whose owner prefers to remain anonymous. While the truant legislators may have piqued the interest of political watchers, the situation also provided some relationship lessons for a local lass, Shreeya Kudchadkar. “I may have commitment issues but at least I’m not a Congress MLA in Goa,” she said. The memes were not limited to only Goans, with Hardeep Saggu from Bareilly issuing a light-hearted warning to Kamat. “Don’t meet God too often, he might end up liking you and might keep you with him forever,” said Saggu. Kamat’s prompt reply has also given employees a new way to befuddle their managers. Forensic expert Samiksha Govenkar said that the next time her manager asks her about not completing tasks, she has her reply ready. “I believe in God. I went to God and told him that I feel lazy today and asked him what to do. God told me to go ahead and skip work, I’m with you,” said Govenkar in a tweet.

Goa: Digambar Kamat gets a ‘call from god’, Goans ask for hotline number
  • Kamat gets a ‘call from god’, Goans ask for hotline number
  • Times of India

    Panaji: The brazen move by eight Congress MLAs to break their vow and jump to BJP inspired a string of memes on social media platforms as the common man expressed displeasure with the hop, skip and jump displayed on Wednesday morning. Unable to deal with yet another political churn, the tech-savvy vented out in a no-holds barred effort to troll the legislators.Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, who claimed to have got the Almighty’s blessings before changing his political loyalty, bore most of the brunt of the online satirists. From seeking matka numbers to calls for ordaining him as a cardinal, most people refused to fall for the former chief minister’s claims of hearing heavenly voices.One particular meme that was quickly shared on WhatsApp said that Kamat spoke to God who informed him about the Kalyan matka winning combination of numbers. The meme went on to say that Kamat is the official spokesperson of God.Given that prayers of most devotees go unanswered, Michael Jude Gracias urged people to turn to Kamat for spiritual solace. “Devan tujem magnnem aikonk na zalear, Digambarak mell. Tache lagim Devacho hotline asa direct sorgar. (If God does not hear your prayers, go and meet Digambar. He has a hotline to heaven),” said Gracias.Kamat has attracted derision after he claimed that he went to a temple to explain to God his situation and his reason for joining BJP. Prior to the elections, he swore an oath at the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji and the Fulancho Khuris shrine at Bambolim, promising not to defect and join BJP. On Wednesday, when asked by reporters about his earlier oath, Kamat said, “God told me to take a decision. He is with me.”Impressed by Kamat’s piety and discernment, a Delhi-based communication specialist Aftab Shaikh said the Margao MLA should be consecrated as Goa’s second cardinal as “he can directly communicate with God.”On Twitter, The Goan Pao, who often has a humorous take on everything Goan, joined in the rib-tickling. “I wanted to eat five cutlet paos yesterday and then God told me to decide accordingly and he would support me,” said the handle, whose owner prefers to remain anonymous. While the truant legislators may have piqued the interest of political watchers, the situation also provided some relationship lessons for a local lass, Shreeya Kudchadkar. “I may have commitment issues but at least I’m not a Congress MLA in Goa,” she said. The memes were not limited to only Goans, with Hardeep Saggu from Bareilly issuing a light-hearted warning to Kamat. “Don’t meet God too often, he might end up liking you and might keep you with him forever,” said Saggu.Kamat’s prompt reply has also given employees a new way to befuddle their managers when they turn up late or well, do not turn up at all. Forensic expert Samiksha Govenkar said that the next time her manager asks her about not completing tasks, she has her reply ready. “I believe in God. I went to God and told him that I feel lazy today and asked him what to do. God told me to go ahead and skip work, I’m with you,” said Govenkar in a tweet.

Goa: Resentment among karyakartas, BJP in damage control mode
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

PANAJI: BJP's induction of eight Congress MLAs on Wednesday has created strong undercurrents of resentment within the party, especially among former MLAs and candidates picked for the 2022 assembly polls who now feel that their chances of contesting on a BJP ticket in the future have turned bleaker. To allay the situation, Goa BJP's core committee held a crucial meeting on Thursday morning. Later, chief minister Pramod Sawant and BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade were entrusted with the task of pacifying the former MLAs, candidates and mandals by holding meetings constituency-wise. "Once the Centre takes a decision, the party stands behind it. Party karyakartas are important for BJP and that is the reason Sawant and I will ourselves go and meet them and tell them about the decision," Tanavade said. In the meanwhile, political equations have drastically changed in seven of the eight constituencies where BJP has inducted Congress MLAs. These include Saligao, Siolim, Calangute, Mormugao, Margao, Cumbharjua and Santa Cruz. Political observers say that while BJP got the upper hand in Margao and Cumbharjua after Congress MLAs joined it, those aspiring for tickets from within the party have been left dejected. Sawant should protect interest of BJP’s strong team of karyakartas in Margao, says AjgaonkarA case in point is Cumbarjua, where the struggle of Union minister Shripad’s Naik’s son Siddesh to land a BJP ticket is only likely to continue with the induction of Congress MLA Rajesh Faldessai. Siddesh had been eyeing the BJP ticket ahead of the assembly elections in February, but had to be content with stepping aside after the party decided to pick sitting MLA Pandurang Madkaikar’s wife, Janita. He was, however, rewarded with the post of North Goa ZP adhyaksha for not revolting against the party. Similarly in Margao, former deputy chief minister Manohar Ajgaonkar told TOI that he was not consulted about the induction of Congress’ Digambar Kamat. “Sawant should protect the interest of BJP’s strong team of karyakartas that is active in Margao, including BJP candidate Sharmad Raiturkar who has always taken Kamat head-on. These karyakartas should not be orphaned,” he said. Ahead of the 2022 assembly elections, the party faced a revolt in Saligao upon it inducting former GFP minister Jayesh Salgaonkar. Disenchanted BJP karyakartas threw their weight behind Kedar Naik instead, who went on to win on a Congress ticket and has now joined BJP. Wednesday’s developments also prompted many former BJP MLAs and candidates to go incommunicado. Among them is former BJP MLA Dayanand Mandrekar, whose political career is likely to be at stake over the induction of incumbent Siolim legislator, Delilah Lobo. “Mandrekar is our senior leader and we have not been able to contact him, but the chief minister will meet him,” Tanavade said. BJP’s Calangute candidate Joseph Sequeira said he wasn’t consulted before the induction of Delilah’s husband and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo into the party fold. “I am a BJP executive committee member and even then, I was not consulted. After he (Lobo) joined, one person had sought my reaction. I told that person the party has taken a decision and that I stand by the party,” Sequeira told TOI. In Mormugao, three-time former MLA Milind Naik, who was dropped from the Pramod Sawant cabinet over an alleged sex scandal, will struggle to revive his political career now that Sankalp Amonkar has joined the party. While BJP has never emerged victorious in Santa Cruz, it has managed to represent the constituency after inducting Congress MLAs — Antonio Fernandes during the previous government’s tenure and now, Rodolfo Fernandes.

Goa: Resentment among karyakartas, BJP in damage control mode