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.)
MARGAO: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday handed over land title documents (sanads) for forest land under occupation to several beneficiaries under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Addressing the gathering at a function held at the south Goa collectorate, Sawant said that the government has set a target of handing over 10,000 sanads to claimants of both individual and community rights category, within the next 12 to 18 months. Sawant said that his government was working on the Antyodaya principle, and said that being able to hand over titles to rightful claimants of forest land under the Act was his biggest achievement since becoming the chief minister. “There were nearly 10,000 applications pending under the Act whenI became the chief minister in 2019. No sanad was given to any claimant before that. So far 2,000 to 2,500 sanads have been handed over to beneficiaries. The rest will be cleared in due course,” he said. He urged beneficiaries not to sell the agricultural land they have now come to own, but cultivate it with the assistance of the agriculture department. Sawant also inaugurated the FRC Sanad Information System portal that will facilitate beneficiaries under the Act to obtain their land title documents online. “This is yet another step in our mission towards making Goa swayampurna (self-reliant),” Sawant said. Despite a large number of claims, sources said lack of documentation by claimants, the requirement of 50% quorum at gram sabhas have turned out to be major impediments in speedy processing of claims.
PANAJI: The state government on Thursday notified 46.1 sqkm area in the state as private forest, in compliance with an order by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). This is the first parcel of land in Goa to be notified as a private forest. However, in the meantime, work is in progress to confirm almost double of the area notified, which has been identified provisionally as private forest for now. Enumeration of 9,183 ha or 91.8 sqkm area is being carried out at present by 16 sub-committees comprising range forest officers, inspectors of survey and land records, and village talathis, under the supervision of the deputy conservator of forests. This area was identified as a provisional forest by the Thomas and the Araujo committees. “The review of survey numbers provisionally identified as private forests by the Thomas and Araujo committees is on as per the order of NGT dated January 7, 2021. Five interim reports have been already uploaded on the forest department website, and three compliance reports have been filed before the tribunal and the balance review work is under process,” an official said. The first parcel of 46.1 sqkm of private forest notified now in Goa was based on the findings of the Sawant and the Karapurkar committees, which were later reviewed and confirmed by the Sharma committee. The government panels, while identifying private forests, applied the criteria that the area should be either contiguous to government forest lands or, if in isolation, the minimum area identified should be 5 ha. And, canopy density should not be less than 0.4. The review committee has now formed several sub-committees, which are carrying out ground enumeration mainly based on the third criteria — that at least 75% of the tree species in the private forest are of ‘forestry type’. This will be the determining factor for an identified area to qualify as private forest. So that there are no objections to the forest found to be qualifying as private forest from the land owners, the review committee has now put multiple checks in place. These checks include the range forest officer or member secretary of the sub-committee mandatorily visiting all the sites and verifying 100% sample points on ground. Further, an inspector of survey and land records and talathi also attend the field enumeration and verify the report prepared by the sub-committee before sending it to the review committee. In addition, assistant conservators of forests have been assigned an area for checking and have to verify at least 20% of the sample points. Besides this, geo-reference photographs of the trees at sampling points have to be taken mandatorily, along with the representatives, objectors or owners of the land.
Panaji: The Porvorim police have booked an unidentified man, who introduced himself only as Dhairya, after he tried to enter a nightclub free of cost by claiming that he was the brother of chief minister Pramod Sawant. Although he was subsequently denied entry, he tried to forcefully enter the club. Sawant said he has instructed the police to nab the accused immediately.As per a complaint lodged before the police, a tall person called Dhairya, who had a strong build and fair complexion, and was dressed in a short-sleeved white shirt and trousers appeared at the entry counter of LPK Waterfront – a club that is located at Nerul – at around 12am on September 20. He claimed to be the brother of the chief minister in order to avoid being charged for entry into the club, the complaint stated. The club’s security in-charge, Pavan Rozer, said that the accused also promised ‘help’ in exchange for being let into the club. However, when he was denied entry, he attempted to use force to get into the club and even threatened the staff there with dire consequences, the complaint added.
Panaji: TMC Goa has planned to organise a protest against the government’s failure to resolve the high unemployment in the state, at Azad Maidan, on Sunday evening.This will be the first programme under the party’s new committee with Mariano Rodrigues and Samil Volvoikar as joint conveners. “Goa TMC has announced its state committee and its focus is to move ahead by serving the people at the grassroots and continuing our war against the incumbent anti-people BJP government,” said Volvoikar. “TMC Goa is here for the long run.”Non-inclusion of former Goa chief minister and present Rajya Sabha member Luizinho Faleiro in the party’s new committee has set tongues wagging. The TMC leadership has already asked Faleiro to resign as RS member for not following instructions issued by the party ahead of the 2022 state assembly elections and thereafter. He has written a letter to the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, but has not got an appointment so far.Reports from Kolkata say the party is contemplating disciplinary proceedings against him.
Panaji: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Friday directed government departments and other agencies to come up with an action plan to implement a comprehensive mobility plan for the state to help facilitate smooth and hassle-free transport. The state government will also implement a parking masterplan for Panaji city.The comprehensive mobility plan will include proper strategies for jetty connectivity, airport connectivity, multimodal transport integration, mobility hubs, network of bus stops, freight corridors and freight timings for movement of trucks and improvement of footpaths.The government intends to implement this plan which would ensure better connectivity and environment-friendly transport infrastructure in the state.At a meeting held to discuss the two issues, the consultant agency, Urban Mass Transit Company, made a detailed presentation of its plan for the state on both the issues. The agency aims to set up a proper network of routes across Goa which would facilitate smooth and hassle-free transport while also working on trunk routes and feeder routes, thus strengthening better connectivity.The chief minister then directed all stakeholder departments — transport, river navigation, caption of ports, Kadamba Transport Corporation and other agencies — to come up with an action plan to implement the comprehensive mobility plan designed by the agency.Various aspects of parking management for Panaji under the Imagine Panaji Smart City mission were also discussed.Sawant was informed about various provisions made in the masterplan for improvement of junctions, parking spaces and zones which will help execute scientific management of parking and city planning. A senior officer said that the implementation of a parking management plan is likely to resolve parking issues in the state’s capital.
Panaji: The government order pertaining to non-performing secretariat staff will be applicable to all government employees, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Wednesday. “We will direct them (non-performing employees) to take compulsory retirement under the compulsory retirement scheme (CRS),” chief minister Pramod Sawant said.The general administration department’s office memorandum stated that the Fundamental Rule (fr) 56(j), which empowers an appropriate authority to retire any government employee in public interest, be invoked when cases of non-performing employees are considered. The memorandum stated that several cases were noted of departments seeking transfers of staff who were found to not be delivering office duties, or often reporting late for work, or showing absolutely no interest to learn. tnn
Panaji: While lauding the contributions of civil engineers, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday sought inputs on offshore construction, flood mitigation measures and marine pollution. Sawant said that Goa aims to create sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Sawant also said that Goa has the required resources to shape future sustainable infrastructure. “Being a coastal state, we are facing many problems. First of all, the coastal region faces the threat of sea level rise because of climate change. We need a solution for tsunamis,” said Sawant. He was speaking at the 9th International Civil Engineering Conference in the Asian Region (CECAR9) organised by Asian Civil Engineering Coordinating Council (ACECC) and hosted by the Institution of Civil Engineers (India). He also said Goa depends on a coastal economy which needs niche solutions. “Tidal energy, offshore engineering and offshore construction... We want advanced solution for this purpose. We have the Coastal Regulatory Zone, and for this we need to come up with offshore constructions,” said Sawant. He also stressed on the need to curb and control marine pollution since Goa is dependent upon the Blue Economy. “If we control the marine pollution, only then can we sustain tourism and everything else. We want to save our environment and aspire to have a sustainable and resilient infrastructure for the future generations,” said the chief minister. He said that Goa has some of the oldest architectural and engineering structures that date back to the time of the Portuguese. He also made a strong pitch for Goa as an investment destination, with the state well connected through a port, two airports, a rail network and the road network. “We need to exploit the capacity so that can fasten growth,”the chief minister said.
Panaji: When the All India Football Federation (AIFF) announced the venues for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2020, Goa was missing from the list.Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai were selected to host the tournament, but the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the tournament was cancelled. India was then handed the right to host the competition in 2022.From five venues, FIFA, the governing body for world football, and AIFF, decided it was best to reduce travel and host the tournament at just three venues. Kolkata, Guwahati and Ahmedabad were discarded and instead Goa was added, thanks to its experience of hosting major sports events like the Indian Super League (ISL) and AFC Champions League inside a bio-secure bubble.Missing out completely at first and now being handed the chance to host 16 of the 32 matches, including two quarterfinals and two semifinals, Goa put on a show with music and dance during the launch of the Host City Logo of the state at the Raj Bhavan in Dona Paula on Wednesday.“I was talking to (tournament project director) Ankush Arora and he told me this kind of launch has not happened anywhere, this is the best,” said chief minister Pramod Sawant. “When Union sports minister Anurag Thakur called me and asked whether Goa can host (the tournament), we jumped at the opportunity.”That call came six months ago, and since then Goa has taken little time in getting the infrastructure in place. Having already hosted the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2017 and ISL for the last two years, the state does not have too much of work to do.“Goa’s bond with football has always been strong, and it was made stronger when former chief minister Manohar Parrikar declared football as the state sport. In Goa, be it kids, youngsters or elders, everyone plays football.“We now have the Goa Football Development Council (GFDC) with training centres from Valpoi to Canacona. Goa has private football clubs who have helped with the development of the game. Our aim now is to identify young players and ensure that they reach international heights,” said Sawant.Sports minister Govind Gaude said it’s a matter of pride that Goa is hosting half of the matches and is among only two states in India to host two FIFA tournaments.“There were some doubts, questions were being asked, but we knew for sure that the tournament is happening (in India). The logo signifies Goa. It has golden sand, sun and the girl child.“Goa is making progress, both on and off the field. Valanka Alemao is the first woman to be elected as executive committee member of AIFF. We have Durgesh Gaonkar who is now (officiating) president of Mallakhamb federation. This is only the beginning,” said the sports minister.If the Goa logo launch was held on an impressive scale, the sports minister announced an inauguration event at the GMC Athletic Stadium in Bambolim, a day before the tournament officially opens in Bhubaneswar with India taking on the might of United States.The U-17 Women’s World Cup scheduled to be held between October 11 and 30 across Odisha, Goa and Maharashtra will be the first FIFA women’s competition to be held in India.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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 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.
Margao: Margao to Zambaulim via Altinho, in the name of God. Soon after casting their votes for the election to choose the new chairperson of Margao Municipal Council (MMC) on Friday, 14 councillors traversed over 90km to swear their loyalty before the chief minister ahead of proceeding to lay prostrate before Dev Dambab to seek penance for their sins, if any. As an act of “redemption”, a no-confidence motion now stands signed by the 14 councillors against Ghanashyam Shirodkar who defeated Margao MLA Digambar Kamat’s blue-eyed boy, Damodar Shirodkar, ready to be moved anytime soon. While the theatrics of the councillors and their political masters were making the rounds in the civic corridors since Friday, Damodar on Sunday laid bare before reporters the sequence of events leading to 14 members signing on the dotted line on the no-confidence motion. Even before the storm of ridicule that broke out over Kamat’s “supernatural ability of speaking to his gods” could die down, the 14 councillors took the narrative of faith and deceit to the next level by solemnly swearing before Dambab that they had indeed cast their vote in favour of Damodar, Kamat’s nominee, who was defeated 10-15.“If all 14 had cast their votes for me, where did the remaining votes go? Surely, there wasn’t a devchar (spirit) at the election. The figures simply don’t add up. And so, it was decided that a no-confidence motion will be moved,” Damodar said. Significantly, he said, the 14 members were together at all the three meetings of the group held before and after the elections.“At the CM’s bungalow at Altinho too, all of these councillors were present. The chief minister then said that those not willing to stay (with the BJP-panel) could leave, and the door was opened. None left. As the chief minister asked for an explanation for the missing votes, a couple of them appeared hurt over being accused of betrayal, and suggested that they all swear before Dambab at Zambaulim,” Damodar said.So, all the 14 councillors then proceeded to Zambaulim and standing inside the temple chowk, placing their hands on the coconut, each one of them solemnly affirmed that they had voted for Damodar. “And that they may be punished, otherwise.”Ghanashyam, however, is not fazed. “If they do oust me through a no-confidence motion, they will have to explain to the people the reason for doing so, without giving me a chance to perform.”
With the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra set to enter Karnataka on September 30 for a 22-day stretch, the divide between the party’s state chief D K Shivakumar and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has again revealed the faultlines in the state unit.Assembly polls are scheduled to be held in Karnataka next year. Along with Rajasthan, the three weeks in Karnataka are the longest that the Bharat Jodo Yatra participants will spend in a state on their route. But the factions in Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) appear to be struggling to unite, with Shivakumar pulling up party colleagues for allegedly not stepping up to make the yatra a success.In a meeting on Friday, Shivakumar hit out at the SIddaramaiah faction. “The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has appointed a separate team under Sunil (political strategist Sunil Kanugolu) to conduct political analysis on a daily basis,” he said. “There are about 600 people across the constituencies who are watching all the Congress’s probable candidates. We may know or may not know them. They are looking into all the sitting, defeated, and aspiring MLAs.”Naming former state Congress chief RV Deshpande, Shivakumar said, “I asked Deshpande to get 5,000 people from his constituency for BJY (Bharat Jodo Yatra). He said he can’t get people as his constituency is far away. Can’t we just do this for one day for the sake of Rahul Gandhi?”On Sunday, Deshpande’s name was missing from a list of 18 committees set up to manage the yatra. The Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council, BK Hariprasad, is the state leader in charge of the yatra.According to some party insiders, the Siddaramaiah group is likely holding itself back as the yatra provides Shivakumar with the opportunity to showcase his organisational skills to the high command. Siddaramaiah himself is planning to hold a Rath Yatra. A Congress leader said the former CM’s march ahead of the Assembly polls would be on the lines of the Panchajanya Yatra led by former CM SM Krishna in 1999.At the Friday meeting, Shivakumar said the Freedom March that the party organised in Bengaluru on August 15 was better planned unlike Siddaramotsva, or Siddaramaiah’s birthday celebrations earlier that month that saw massive participation from people. “During Siddaramotsava, a lot of people were stuck in traffic and it was not planned properly but when it came to the Freedom March, it was well-planned and everything was hassle-free.”The relationship between the two leaders worsened following the announcement of Siddaramaiah’s birthday being celebrated in a grand manner by his supporters. Shivakumar said the party did not believe in worshipping individuals but changed his position after Rahul and general secretary KC Venugopal backed the birthday celebration plans. The two leaders are expected to be the front-runners for the chief minister’s post if the Congress returns to power next year.Siddaramaiah was recently said to be unhappy about not being informed about a meeting between Shivakumar and Randeep Singh Surjewala, the central leader in charge of Karnataka. Initially, he refused to participate in the meeting but others later convinced him to attend the talks. Recently, Siddaramaiah’s picture did not feature on hoardings that the party put up for an event in Raichur.Many old-timers do not consider the former CM a “real Congressman” as he joined the party only in 2006 after decades of association with the Janata Parivar. While Shivakumar has been able to keep the party on track since taking charge of the state unit in 2020 and has the advantage of being from the dominant Vokkaliga community from south Karnataka, SIddaramaiah, who is from the backward class Kuruba community, is also crucial for the Congress’s poll matrix as the party will want to consolidate his ‘AHINDA’ base. AHINDA stands for “Alpasankhyataru (minorities)”, “Hindulidavaru (Backward Classes)” and Dalit vote base.
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.
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.
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”.
A Goushala (a protective shelter for cows) and a ‘Vamanavriksha Kala Garden’ of 72 potted plants will now be the new tourist attractions on sprawling premises of the over 450-year-old monumental complex housing Goa Raj Bhavan, the residence of Governor, in Dona Paula.The Goushala dedicated to the indigenous Goan cow breed ‘Shwetakapila’ was inaugurated by Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on the occasion of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 72nd birthday on Saturday.After feeding bananas and grass to the 20 cows and two bulls housed in the Goushala, the Governor and the Chief Minister performed a puja of the cow. “I am very happy to be a part of these events organised by our Governor on the occasion of PM Modi’s birthday. Goushala for the Shwetakapila breed will attract tourists. There are many Goushalas in the country but this is unique because it is exclusively for the Shwetakapila cows. The ‘Gau premis’ (cow lovers) from across the country will now come to the Raj Bhavan to see the Shwetakapila cow,” said CM Pramod Sawant.Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai said that new Gaushala was different from those in Rajasthan and UP as this a local, traditional way of protecting cows and producing maximum amount of milk.“We contacted many business concerns and public field concerns, who are prepared to help us. The idea is that maximum milk be produced. Raj Bhavan will give this milk to the poor. This is the first such attempt in India. With the Raj Bhavan and the state government together, we will be able to achieve our final goal.”“As far as the Raj Bhavan is concerned, this is one of the happiest days since it is our Prime Minister’s 72nd birthday. It is celebrated throughout India by launching various service-oriented schemes,” Pillai said.The Raj Bhavan has declared financial aid to 72 cancer patients, 72 TB patients and 72 patients with dialysis. The Governor disbursed a token amount to the patients on the occasion.Asked about the political connotations that cow protection had assumed in the country, CM Sawant said, “We think of the cow as our mother. Especially in Goa we have always protected the cow. That is why we have always supported NGOs that come forward with such missions.”Sawant said that the Gomantak Gau Seva Mahasangh Trust that runs a Goushala in Sinquerim, Goa, has been tasked with looking after the cows in the Raj Bhavan’s new shelter. The project will run under the Goa government’s stray cattle management policy of 2013. Dr Dattatray Naik Parrikar of the Trust said that the cows would be used for dairy and agricultural purposes.Sawant said that as Goa has a persistent problem of cattle straying on its roads, especially during monsoon, said that cow shelters served two purposes – reduce accidents on roads and also bring down the number of cattle straying on the roads. It is important to take care of the cow and also the people, the CM said.‘Vamanavriksha Kala Garden’ of 72 potted plants inauguratedEarlier, the Governor inaugurated a ‘Vamanavriksha Kala Garden’ of 72 potted plants, the first such in the Raj Bhavan. He said, “With the term ‘Bonsai’, we are under the impression (if you go through any documents) that China and Japan are the pioneers. I had the occasion to see that China is the largest exporter of it but actually, it originated in India. Vamanavriksha Kala is a very important part of our traditional system. I would like to say that 15,000 species are there for such a field. China and Japan are confined to about 1,500. But they are the champions in the field now. That is why the first Vamanavriksha Kala garden is also inaugurated in the Raj Bhavan.”Vamanavriksha Kala refers to the ancient Indian system of Bonsai art of nurturing miniature trees.“It is one of the brilliant chapters in our history. Due to non-application of mind, we have all been saying Bonsai, Bonsai. There is a specific concept in our ancient texts, especially in Sanskrit language,” Pillai said.The programme was attended by Goa Animal Husbandry Minister Nilkanth Halarnkar, chief secretary Puneet Kumar Goel and BJP state president Sadanand Tanavade. They all participated in feeding the cows at the ‘Goushala Shwetakapila’.
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.
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.
PANAJI: Chief minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday said that the state government has decided to arrest those who are caught consuming drugs and that Goa police is conducting continuous raids on clubs and late-night venues. "We are conducting raids on those parties where we suspect there is sale and consumption of drugs. Goa will not tolerate drugs," Sawant said. Following the death of Haryana BJP functionary and social media star Sonail Phogat murder, Sawant had directed police to go all out against the drug trade in the state. DGP Jaspal Singh during a meeting with police officers had directed strict against the narcotics trade. Sawant had said that the anti-narcotics cell will be strengthened. Speaking on ahead of the International Coastal Cleanup Day, the chief minister urged people and NGOs to come out in large numbers on September 17 to clean the state's 37 beaches so as to send a clear massage to tourists that Goan beaches are clean and safe. Sawant said that they will also run a 'No To Drugs' campaign. The Clean Coast Safe Sea campaign that started on July 5 will culminate on September 17. Sawant appealed to NGOs to spend two hours - 8 am to 10 am - in cleaning Goa's beaches. He said that MLAs, panchs and sarpanchs will also participate in the campaign. All over India, 75 beaches has been selected, including five beaches from Goa-Miramar, Baina, Velsao, Bogmalo and Colva beaches. "We will form a human chain and sent a clear message that Goan beaches are safe," Sawant said.
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.
At a time when the Congress is busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi, the party was dealt another blow as eight of its 11 MLAs in Goa, including former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and former Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo, switched over to the BJP.Speaking about the defection, AICC general secretary in-charge of communication, Jairam Ramesh, said that there were two types of people who leave the Congress party. “The first is the kind who leave after benefitting everything from the party. Ghulam Nabi Azad is a great example of these kinds of leaders. He started off as a mere worker of the party and went onto become the Pradesh Congress president and even a Union Minister. However, after benefitting from the party, he kicked it and left.”LIVE: Congress Party Briefing by shri @Jairam_Ramesh on #BharatJodoYatra in Kerala. https://t.co/A7YJUqlfH3— Congress (@INCIndia) September 15, 2022Explaining the defection in Goa, Ramesh stated: “There’s a second category of leaders who leave the party when they feel threatened by or vulnerable to investigative agencies. These 8 MLAs in Goa went into the BJP washing machine and will now become spotless like my white kurta. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is a classic example of this. When he was with the Congress, the BJP used to attack him every day, but as soon as he jumped ship, all cases against him were taken off and now, he has even become the CM.”Ramesh also launched a scathing attack on the Trinamool Congress, CPM in Kerala and the Aam Aadmi Party, holding Mamata Banerjee “singularly responsible” for the rise of the BJP in West Bengal and alleging that the CPM and BJP were two sides of the same coin in Kerala.The Congress said it was ready to work towards Opposition unity if there is a need for it, but argued it cannot have such a deal with parties intent or hell bent upon weakening the Congress, in its words.
The BJP Thursday released a video of yet another “sting operation” against the Aam Aadmi Party, alleging that an accused in the liquor scam can be heard saying that the now-scrapped excise policy was formulated in a way that a select few got benefits.In response, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia said: “The CBI raided my house but did not find anything. They also searched my locker but didn’t find anything there either. Now the BJP has brought forth this sting. CBI and ED should investigate this as well. If the allegations are correct, they should arrest me by Monday. If not, the PM should apologise to me for this fake sting by Monday.”CBI ने मेरे घर रेड की, कुछ नहीं मिला। लाकर में कुछ नहीं मिला। CBI/ED ने जाँच कर ली, कुछ नहीं मिला। अब भाजपा स्टिंग ले के आयी है। CBI/ED ये स्टिंग भी जाँच कर ले। आरोप सहीं हों तो मुझे सोमवार तक गिरफ़्तार कर लो। नहीं तो सोमवार को PM जी झूठा स्टिंग करने के लिए मुझसे माफ़ी माँग लें.— Manish Sisodia (@msisodia) September 15, 2022Reacting to Sisodia’s tweet, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said: “Waah, Manish! Only an honest and courageous person can give such a challenge. I am sure the BJP will accept your challenge. The whole country is proud of your work and your honesty. They are scared of your work on education and want to stop it. You keep doing your job.”वाह मनीष! ऐसी चुनौती केवल सच्चा और साहसी व्यक्ति ही दे सकता है। मुझे विश्वास है भाजपा आपकी चुनौती ज़रूर क़बूल करेगीपूरे देश को आपके काम और आपकी ईमानदारी पर गर्व है। वो आपके स्कूलों के काम से घबराए हुए हैं। उसे रोकना चाहते हैं। आप अपना काम करते रहो। https://t.co/KvIdn3lIsd— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 15, 2022BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, at a press conference earlier, alleged that the video shows accused number 9 in the CBI FIR, Amit Arora, detailing the “money trail”.In the CBI FIR, Arora, director of Buddy Retail Pvt Ltd, was named as an “associate” of Sisodia.“The video shows the man saying how, in an organised manner, the policy has been made so that cash flow is with select people in the liquor policy,” Trivedi claimed.For instance, he claimed, there are only two big brands in India and their two main wholesalers gave Rs 60 crore and Rs 100 crore, insinuating that the Aam Aadmi Party was the beneficiary and this money was used by the party in Goa and Punjab assembly polls.They also claimed that under the new policy, the commission between the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer was decided by the government instead of the companies, which killed competition in the market.Trivedi said that Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had earlier said that if anyone captures corruption on video, the government will take action. “What happened to the promise; everything is in the public domain,” he said. “Scam accused number 9 has exposed the entire plot.”BJP spokesperson Adesh Gupta claimed the second sting video makes it clear that in everything the CM does, there is a scam.BJP leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa said, “They asked us to bring proof and we brought it. The tailor-made policies benefited the CM’s aides. He has also turned black money into white money using his power.”
PANAJI: With eight Congress MLAs defecting to BJP, the saffron party is eyeing both Lok Sabha seats for the 2024 polls, especially South Goa, which it has historically found tough to secure. BJP currently has 12 MLAs in South Goa, including the three who joined on Wednesday. Former defence minister and chief minister Manohar Parrikar had managed to secure the South Goa seat for BJP in 2014, when he had 21 BJP MLAs and with the support of three MGP MLAs and two independents. Additionally, there was a 'Modi wave'. Five years later, in 2019, BJP lost the seat to Congress by over 9,000 votes. A political observer said that the merger of eight MLAs into BJP has given it an opportunity to once again grab the South Goa seat. "Now, BJP can expect more votes in Mormugao, Nuvem and Margao," the observer said. "An advantage is that MGP too is with BJP. During the last election, MGP had managed to damage BJP after its leader Ramakrishna 'Sudin' Dhavalikar was dropped from the cabinet. BJP should be able to fight the election comfortably, as it also has support from independent MLAs." BJP has so far won the South Goa seat on two occasions, and with an eye on crossing 400 seats in the Parliamentary polls, winning South Goa has become crucial for the state BJP. The party's central leadership too strongly backed the local leadership to allow the entry of Congress MLAs, so that there are no hiccups in winning both the seats. Union minister Narayan Rane has been given the responsibility of winning the South Goa seat for BJP. Of BJP's 28 MLAs, 12 are from the minority community. Now, the party does not require support of any other MLAs. In the 2022 assembly election, BJP won 20 seats and formed the government with the help of independents and MGP. In the 40-member Goa legislative assembly, 21 is the magic number, and with the eight Congress MLAs joining BJP, it has now got an 'absolute' majority in the House. The merger will also help chief minister Pramod Sawant silence opponents in the party vying for the top post.
Panaji: With eight Congress MLAs defecting to BJP, the saffron party is eyeing both Lok Sabha seats for the 2024 polls, especially South Goa, which it has historically found tough to secure.BJP currently has 12 MLAs in South Goa, including the three who joined on Wednesday.Former defence minister and chief minister Manohar Parrikar had managed to secure the South Goa seat for BJP in 2014, when he had 21 BJP MLAs and with the support of three MGP MLAs and two independents. Additionally, there was a ‘Modi wave’. Five years later, in 2019, BJP lost the seat to Congress by over 9,000 votes.A political observer said that the merger of eight MLAs into BJP has given it an opportunity to once again grab the South Goa seat.“Now, BJP can expect more votes in Mormugao, Nuvem and Margao,” the observer said. “An advantage is that MGP too is with BJP. During the last election, MGP had managed to damage BJP after its leader Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar was dropped from the cabinet. BJP should be able to fight the election comfortably, as it also has support from independent MLAs.”BJP has so far won the South Goa seat on two occasions, and with an eye on crossing 400 seats in the Parliamentary polls, winning South Goa has become crucial for the state BJP. The party’s central leadership too strongly backed the local leadership to allow the entry of Congress MLAs, so that there are no hiccups in winning both the seats.Union minister Narayan Rane has been given the responsibility of winning the South Goa seat for BJP.Of BJP’s 28 MLAs, 12 are from the minority community. Now, the party does not require support of any other MLAs. In the 2022 assembly election, BJP won 20 seats and formed the government with the help of independents and MGP. In the 40-member Goa legislative assembly, 21 is the magic number, and with the eight Congress MLAs joining BJP, it has now got an ‘absolute’ majority in the House.The merger will also help chief minister Pramod Sawant silence opponents in the party vying for the top post.
PANAJI: Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Narayan Rane on Saturday said that with 12 MLAs in South Goa and the BJP government in the state, the party is confident of winning the South Goa seat for the 2024 Lok Sabha election. He also expressed confidence that that BJP will win both the Lok Sabha seats in Goa. “BJP will 100% win the South Goa seat,” Rane said. Till date, BJP has won the South Goa seat only on two occasions. Currently, the seat is represented by Congress MP Francisco Sardinha. Rane said that MGP will support the BJP candidate in the Lok Sabha election.When asked if BJP wants to increase its MLAs in South Goa, Rane said, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in every state, somethings happen automatically and we don’t have to make an effort. But it happens in the name of Modi. It takes time to happen in Goa, but when it happens, it happens effectively.” BJP has appointed Rane to oversee two Lok Sabha constituencies, including South Goa and South Mumbai.
PANAJI: Union minister for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) Narayan Rane on Saturday said that with 12 MLAs in South Goa and the BJP government in the state, the party is confident of winning the South Goa seat for the Lok Sabha election. Rane also expressed confidence that that BJP will win both the Lok Sabha seats in Goa. “BJP will 100% win the South Goa seat,” Rane said. Till date, BJP has won the South Goa seat only on two occasions. Currently, the seat is represented by Congress MP Francisco Sardinha. Rane said that MGP will support the BJP candidate in the Lok Sabha election. When asked if BJP wants to increase its MLAs in South Goa, Rane said, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in every state, somethings happen automatically and we don’t have to make an effort. But it happens in the name of Modi. It takes time to happen in Goa, but when it happens, it happens effectively.”
Good morning, In today’s edition: Defections from Congress and its Presidential polls; PM Modi at SCO summit; modifying BCCI’s cooling-off clause; and moreThe Big StoryWith eight of its 11 MLAs in Goa quitting the party and joining the BJP, the Congress has taken yet another blow. The BJP termed the high-profile exits — of former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and former Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo — as the beginning of the “Congress chhoro yatra”.🔴 The Congress hit back, saying a “nervous” BJP had “fast tracked” its “Operation Kichad” in Goa because of the “visible success” of Rahul’s yatra.🔴 BJP seems to have taken the decision with an eye on the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. CM Pramod 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.”🔴 It is interesting to note that months before the defection, Lobo and his wife were facing the heat as the state Town and Country Planning Department and the Food and Drugs Administration began cracking down on properties they owned in the touristy coastal belt of Bardez taluka in North Goa.Only in the ExpressTensions are also brewing in the Congress party over its much-anticipated President polls. A few leaders have expressed apprehension that some state units could pass resolutions expressing faith in leadership of the Gandhis, or even urging Sonia Gandhi to continue as party chief. This, they argued, could vitiate the election process.From the Front PageThe Supreme Court has allowed the BCCI’s request to permit amendments to its constitution so as to modify the requirement of a mandatory three-year cooling-off period for its officials. This paves the way for BCCI president Sourav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah to continue for another term in office.On that note, don’t miss: BCCI was waiting for weather to change, says reform panel head LodhaWith the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit beginning Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines, sources said. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, facing flak from the Opposition for letting the Rs 1.5 lakh crore Vedanta-Foxconn project “slip out” of the state, spoke to PM Modi and was assured that the Centre would help bring “big projects” to the state.As many as 145 passengers and six crew members were evacuated from an Air India Express plane in Muscat after smoke was observed from one of the engines of the Boeing 737 aircraft. A probe is underway to determine the causes of the accident, which led to a few minor injuries.With the Army warning that its recruitment rallies in Punjab, under the short-term Agnipath scheme, may either be “held in abeyance” or shifted to neighbouring states due to “vacillating” support from the local civil administration, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann directed deputy commissioners to provide “complete support” and warned that “any laxity shall be viewed seriously”.Must ReadFor close to two years now, the Himachal Police have been working with a new model of ‘predictive policing’, using a data-intensive approach to steer the state towards reduced crime and accident rates. Every week, DGP Sanjay Kundu and his team pore through data from the week gone by – graphs of crimes under different heads, along with the weekly average over the last five years.An Oxfam India report noted that discrimination against women at work is so high that there is hardly any difference across religion or caste-based sub-groups, or the rural-urban divide. It said all women, regardless of their socioeconomic location, are “highly discriminated”. The report noted that while overall discrimination in wages for people from SC, ST and Muslims communities declined in regular/salaried jobs, it increased for women in this period — from 67.2% in 2004-05 to 75.7% in 2019-20.Government spending on health as a proportion of the total health expenditure in the country has been rising in recent years, even as the overall expenditure on health has declined, official data released this week show. We delve into the findings of the National Health Accounts Estimates 2018-19 report.And Finally…Delhi Confidential: With the BJP gearing up for a fierce battle in Karnataka early next year, the party wants to focus on the Old Mysore area that sends 80 legislators to the Assembly, and where the party is comparatively weak. While Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will be holding a number of rallies, his predecessor BS Yediyurappa will take rounds of the region urging the electorate to vote for the BJP.🎧 In today’s episode of the ‘3 things’ podcast, we talk about Indian and Chinese troops disengaging in Ladakh, Allahabad university students’ protest over fee hike, and an Air India Express flight catching fire.Until next time,Sonal Gupta and Srishti Kapoor
Eight of the 11 Congress MLAs in Goa today joined the BJP after keeping the defection pot simmering for about two months. The Congress MLAs included former chief minister Digambar Kamat, leader of Opposition Micheal Lobo, his wife Delilah Lobo, Kedar Naik, Rudolfo Fernandes, former Goa power minister Aleixo Sequeira, Rajesh Phal Dessai, and Sankalp Amonkar. The smallest state in the country, Goa has just 40 members in its state Assembly. But the latest round of defections shows there is no end to the permutations and combinations that can be weaved with those numbers in its volatile, multi-party politics.A political slugfest has started in Maharashtra after Gujarat walked away with a mega Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor project that Maharashtra was counting on. However, the fact is that Foxconn has struggled to get its investments off the ground in Maharashtra. The first deal was signed with the Taiwanese firm for a mobile plant in 2015 when the BJP was in power in state and Centre, but still it failed. Amid the row, a look at how the project would have benefitted Maharashtra’s economy, and why Foxconn chose Gujarat over Maharashtra.The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today approved a Constitution amendment Bill that seeks to grant tribal status to the Hatti community living in the Trans-Giri region of Himachal Pradesh’s Sirmaur district. The nod for Hattis came along with tribal status to a community in Chhattisgarh and two in Tamil Nadu. The Hattis form an electorally influential community in Himachal Pradesh, and the move might boost the ruling BJP’s chances in the coming Assembly elections. Amil Bhatnagar reports.The Supreme Court accepted BCCI’s plea seeking to do away with the mandatory cooling-off period between tenures of office bearers across state cricket associations and the BCCI, paving the way for cricket association president Saurav Ganguly and secretary Jay Shah to continue in office. Now the administrators will have to undergo the cooling-off period only after two consecutive terms in office. The new rule will also apply to state cricket associations.Political PulseBihar 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 throws light on his stand, his party’s position and Nitish’s reaction on the issues has raised. Singh says he is “not at all apologetic about calling myself “choron ke sardar’”, adding that he is not a representative of the government “but of my people”. Read edited excerpts here. More From Political PulseIn Akhilesh’s biting attacks on Keshav Maurya, a strategy of ‘non-Yadav OBC outreach’Kejriwal's Ahmedabad 'autowala' host Vikram Dantani, whose pro-BJP family is at a crossroadsIs Bengal BJP on course for a comeback? Gloves off, party says mojo is backClick here for more Express ExplainedThousands of mourners will be allowed to pay their last respects to Queen Elizabeth II beginning Wednesday till the day of her funeral next Monday. During this period, the Queen’s coffin will lie in state in Westminster Hall. Those wanting to visit have been warned of mile-long queues and airport-like stringent security arrangements. What is the meaning of lying-in-state? How will the Queen’s coffin lie in state? We explain.Dozens of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers have reportedly been killed in renewed border clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the worst round of hostilities since 2020. After several hours of fighting, the Armenian government appealed to world leaders for help, saying that Azerbaijani forces were trying to advance into its territory. A look at the decades-old conflict, and what led to the current flare-up.
Eight of the 11 MLAs from the Congress in Goa Wednesday reached the Legislative Assembly complex and are set to resign from the party after keeping the defection pot simmering for about two months. Congress MLAs, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat, leader of Opposition Micheal Lobo, his wife Delilah Lobo, and five other MLAs were set to “merge” the Congress legislature party with the BJP, said political sources.The other Congress MLAs, who reached the Goa Assembly, are Kedar Naik, Rudolfo Fernandes, former Goa power minister Aleixo Sequeira, Rajesh Phal Dessai, and Sankalp Amonkar.In 2019, 10 Congress MLAs and two legislators from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) had similarly merged their legislature parties with the BJP.With the “merger” of the Congress’s legislature party with the BJP, the ruling party in the coastal state would then have 33 of 40 MLAs—including 20 who won the assembly election from the BJP, two from MGP and three Independents who extended support to it to form the government in March.The first attempt at defection was foiled in July after the Congress party accused Micheal Lobo and Kamat of engineering a defection. Disqualification petitions against them are pending.The defection of these MLAs would leave three MLAs in Congress and seven in Opposition parties. The three MLAs who remain with the Congress are Altone D’Costa, Yuri Alemao, and Carlos Ferreira.The defection comes despite pledges of loyalty that Congress MLAs had taken ahead of the February Assembly election in various places of worship, including a temple and a church. They had also signed an affidavit to this effect.In the 40-member House, the Bharatiya Janata Party has 20 MLAs, the Congress 11, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) 2, the MGP 2, and the Goa Forward Party and Revolutionary Goans Party have one MLA each. There are three Independents.
The exodus of eight Congress MLAs -- Digambar Kamat, Michael Lobo, Aleixo Sequeira, Rodolfo Fernandes, Rajesh Faldessai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar and Delilah Lobo -- has left the party in tatters. In the current situation, analysts say, Congress will have to reinvent itself and even then, after the second major setback in just three years, there are no guarantees that it can rise to the top.Digambar KamatA legislator since 1994, he was one of the four BJP MLAs when the saffron party opened its account in the Goa assembly. In 2005, he engineered the collapse of the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government and returned to Congress. In 2007, he was picked as the chief minister. In February 2014, BJP linked him to the Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining case and Kamat was summoned by the Special Investigation Team (SIT). In the run-up to the 2022 assembly polls, Kamat was the de facto CM candidate of Congress. Michael LoboA three-term MLA, Lobo is a political heavyweight in Bardez. He has been with BJP for over 15 years and was groomed by former chief minister Manohar Parrikar in Calangute. Lobo was the first BJP MLA to quit Pramod Sawant’s cabinet and then join Congress. Though he won the elections, the party did not do well and since then Lobo has been keen to return to the BJP fold. BJP minister Vishwajit Rane had called for an investigation into Lobo’s assets, accusing him of illegal conversion of land. Congress had made him opposition leader in March but within three months the party decided not to continue him in the wake of an unsuccessful attempt to split the party. 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’sAleixo SequeiraA veteran Congressman and a former minister, Sequeira also served as the deputy speaker from July 1999 to November 1999. He was first elected in December 1994 and has been elected for four terms, once unopposed. He was appointed as working president in the run-up to the 2022 assembly polls. He is known to have had cordial relations with former CM Manohar Parrikar. Rodolfo FernandesHe is a first-time MLA and the son of former Congress legislator Victoria ‘Mummy’ Fernandes. He is a relatively new entrant in the Congress camp, joining the party just prior to the 2022 assembly elections. On denial of a party nomination in the past elections, he had contested as an independent. Rajesh FaldessaiA social activist, Faldessai is known to be close to chief minister Pramod Sawant. He is also a first-time MLA and had joined Congress just five months ahead of the assembly elections. He had a miningrelated business in the past. Read AlsoGoa: Cabinet reshuffle soon, Aleixo Sequeira to be made ministerThe Pramod Sawant 2.0 cabinet is expected to be reshuffled within just six months of its formation. After the merger of eight Congress MLAs with BJP on Wednesday, chief minister Pramod Sawant said, "There will be a cabinet reshuffle soon."Kedar NaikNaik is a long-time BJP karyakarta and is the former Reis Magos sarpanch. He joined Congress along with disgruntled BJP supporters in Saligao just a month before the elections after BJP inducted former GFP legislator Jayesh Salgaokar. Naik was earlier keen on contesting the elections on a BJP ticket. Naik won the election with the support of Michael Lobo. Sankalp AmonkarThough a first-time MLA, Amonkar is a veteran Congress worker who has been involved in the party’s organisational affairs for long. Son of a former MLA, Amonkar ran a bruising campaign against his bete noire, Milind Naik, in Mormugao in the run-up to the 2022 polls. Having started as a Youth Congress activist, Amonkar has served as the Congress vice-president in Goa and also held the post of deputy legislature party leader. Read AlsoTOI maps how the saffron hue spread over GoaIn the past three years, Congress has suffered its second bout of rebellion when 8 MLAs joined BJP on Wednesday.Delilah LoboA former Parra sarpanch, Delilah has grown under her husband, Michael Lobo’s shadow. She managed to wrest the Siolim constituency from BJP, allowing the Congress flag to flutter over the constituency. She is the first woman candidate and non-resident of Siolim to be elected from the constituency. Before she joined Congress along with Michael, she was the BJP mahila morcha vice-president.
PANAJI: The three Congress legislators who chose to remain with the party said that despite the pressure tactics and money offered by BJP, they decided to remain faithful to the mandate given to them by their constituencies. The three said they put ethics and their personal principles above the offers that BJP made. Behind the scenes there is a different story. From family pressure to intervention by priests, a lot transpired over the past few weeks. The three MLAs insisted that they chose to remain loyal to the party, but political analysts indicate that there were other considerations. "I am not a commodity to be purchased. I cannot be bought. My parents taught me ethics. The amount of pressure tactics that were used, we have resisted it," Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao said. Alemao had to slog to overcome the "outsider" tag while contesting from Cuncolim. The constituency has a sizeable Christian community, which has traditionally been loyal to Congress. Alemao's predecessor, Clafasio Dias, was trounced in February when he contested on a BJP ticket, the electorate making it clear that it was displeased with his move to join BJP along with nine other Congress MLAs in 2019. Quepem MLA Altone D'Costa faced a similar predicament. D'Costa pulled a surprise upset in February when he defeated then deputy chief minister Chandrakant Kavlekar. Kavlekar had led the "merger" of the 10 Congress MLAs in 2019 and despite being backed by the organisational heft of BJP, he was voted out. BJP made several attempts to convince D'Costa to change his colours, but the hotelier-turned-politician decided to remain firm. "I stand by my values and principles which were taught to me by my parents," said D'Costa. "My voters and Congress supporters elected me as the Quepem legislator and today I can look them in the eye confidently and say that I have been loyal. I am a principled man, a god-fearing man and I am satisfied that I stood by my principles." Both Alemao and D'Costa have age on their side and given that this is their first term, the two were wary about earning the ire of their voters, who are largely Christians. Aldona MLA Carlos Ferreira also remained with Congress. His name featured in discussions prior to the monsoon assembly elections when indications first emerged that Congress MLAs were planning to switch sides. When asked about his name surfacing in the initial list of Congress legislators who were about to desert the party, Ferreira said it was a diversion tactic. "In the art of war, you always pretend that you are attacking one side, while you work on the other side," Ferreira said. According to sources, Ferreira's family was the first to balk at the suggestion that he was open to joining the saffron camp. Locals in Aldona state that several priests reached out to the former advocate general and convinced him that he would be committing hara kiri if he joined BJP.
MARGAO: In February 2005, Digambar Kamat quit BJP, complaining of ghusmatmar (suffocation) within the party despite being considered the no. 2 in the Manohar Parrikar-led government. Seventeen years later-a period which includes a stint as chief minister of a Congress government for a full five-year term (2007-12), and leader of opposition in the last assembly-the veteran Congressman, claiming to be "retired hurt" for being ignored for the post of legislature party leader or party president, made a comeback to don his saffron avatar. Kamat, now 68, was among the four BJP MLAs who won the assembly elections in 1994, helping the saffron party make its debut in the state legislative assembly-Manohar Parrikar (Panaji), Shripad Naik (Madkai), and Narhari Haldankar (Valpoi) were the other three. Since then, a major part of Kamat’s political career was with Congress and he never lost an election from his Margao constituency. Kamat’s resignation from BJP in February 2005, coming as it did ahead of the crucial trial of strength in the assembly, was a body blow to Parrikar, as it led to the fall of his government. Kamat joined Congress and served as the state’s minister for power, urban development, mines, and art and culture in the Pratapsingh Rane government. After becoming the “compromise” choice for chief minister — the party was torn between Ravi Naik or Rane — Kamat steered the Congress government from 2007 to 2012. Though Kamat provided a stable government between 2007 and 2012, accusations of corruption in two high-profile cases left a blot on his political career. In February 2014, Kamat was summoned by the special investigation team (SIT) probing the Rs 35,000 crore illegal mining case and quizzed for almost 90 minutes. The BJP-government had filed an FIR against unknown people in the mining case. Though BJP was keen to avenge Parrikar’s “betrayal” by Kamat by wresting the Margao seat from him, a task that remained unfulfilled, Kamat’s name invariably figured whenever any attempts at defection by Congress MLAs to BJP did the rounds. He would dismiss them as “baseless rumours”. “If anybody had hurt Manoharbhai the most,” BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade had said ahead of 2022 assembly elections, “it was Digambar Kamat. And it was his resolve to defeat Digambar one day.” Aware of the resistance to his comeback moves from local party leadership, sources said Kamat leveraged his political acumen and inter-personal rapport to obtain the nod of BJP’s central leadership for the switch. Kamat, addressing his supporters outside his Malbhat-Margao house on Wednesday , alluded to just that. Attempting to counter jibes thrown at him for reneging on the loyalty pledges the Congress MLAs had made before the gods before elections, Kamat said he obtained his gods’ “approval and support” before making the latest move. Significantly, speculations were also rife during the period of Parrikar’s illness that Kamat could be the man to succeed him. As Pramod Sawant took on the CM’s mantle, Kamat had to wait for three years after Parrikar’s death to make ahomecoming. “BJP is not new to me,” Kamat told his supporters. “My voters have voted for Digambar Kamat, irrespective of my party affiliations.” As Kamat praised Modi-Shah model of development, his crowd of supporters erupted in cheers, “Bharatiya Janata Party-cha vijai aso (victory be to BJP)”. In the BJP camp, however, the silence was deafening.
PANAJI: The Pramod Sawant 2.0 cabinet is expected to be reshuffled within just six months of its formation. After the merger of eight Congress MLAs with BJP on Wednesday, chief minister Pramod Sawant said, "There will be a cabinet reshuffle soon." Sawant is likely to drop two to three ministers to accommodate the new additions to the party. A senior BJP leader said Congress veteran Aleixo Sequeira, who had been a minister in two previous Congress governments including the one led by Digmabar Kamat, would be the only person to be inducted immediately. A decision on the others will be taken in Delhi after BJP national president J P Nadda meets Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the senior party leader said. The central leadership will decide whether Margao MLA and former chief minister Digambar Kamat is to be inducted into the cabinet or moved to Delhi. “BJP may settle with just one ministerial berth to the eight Congress MLAs, but the final decision will be taken by the central leadership,” the senior leader said. Presently, the cabinet comprises 11 BJP ministers, including the chief minister, and one from MGP. Sequeira, 65, has always contested assembly elections on a Congress ticket. He first contested in 1994 from Loutolim constituency. He even won unopposed in 1999. He lost his first assembly election in 2012 but returned to the assembly by winning the 2022 election. Sequeira had a good equation with former chief minister Manohar Parrikar