Goa Forward Party (GFP) News

No trust move against MMC chairperson passed
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Political circles abuzz as Ferreira supports Congress-GFP merger
Goa congress dissolves all its block committees
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

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

Goa congress dissolves all its block committees
A lot can happen over 6 months in Goa: From pre-2022 polls, to post results, and now
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

The smallest state in the country, Goa has just 40 members in its state Assembly. But as 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.Since its transition to a full-fledged state 35 years ago, in 1987, Goa has had 16 chief ministers, with some holding office for barely a month or even less.Here is how the situation stood before it went to elections earlier this year:* BJP: The ruling BJP’s campaign was spearheaded by sitting Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who took over the reins after party stalwart and former CM Manohar Parrikar’s demise in 2019.The BJP had lost the elections technically in 2017, with 13 seats against the Congress’s 17. However, it managed to cobble up a majority by tying up with regional parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP), and two Independents.In 2019, 10 Congress MLAs and two MGP MLAs defected to the BJP, bouncing it to a comfortable position. Out went the alliance partners from the government.Before the polls, the BJP lost two MLAs, one each to the Congress and AAP, and inducted one legislator each from the Congress and GFP. One of those around whom there was huge speculation at the time was sitting Ports Minister Michael Lobo, who did eventually leave to join the Congress – only to return to the BJP on Wednesday.Congress: The party, which saw power slip out of its hands in 2017 despite being short by just 4 MLAs for a simple majority, went into the Assembly elections with just 2 sitting MLAs. After the 2019 defection, it had also seen 2 MLAs switch to newbie Trinamool Congress and one more to the BJP.BJP ex-allies: Miffed by the BJP, the MGP and GFP went into the 2022 election forging new alliances – the MGP with the TMC, and the GFP with the Congress.AAP, RG: Among new entrants was the Aam Aadmi Party, which greeted Wednesday’s defection news by repeating allegations of ‘Operation Lotus’ against the BJP. Also in the race was a regional outfit, Revolutionary Goans (RG), with an “anti-migrant” plank.TMC: It floated a proposal for a large Opposition alliance for the polls, expressing willingness to join hands with the Congress among others. The Congress was not enthused, with party observer for the polls P Chidambaram accusing the TMC and AAP of “fracturing” the anti-BJP votes, maintaining that only the Congress could defeat the BJP in Goa.After the results:The BJP won 20 of the 40 seats. Soon after the poll results, two MLAs of the MGP, which had fought in alliance with the TMC, gave their support to the BJP, as did 3 Independents, taking the BJP strength to 25.The Congress won 11 seats, AAP two, and GFP and RG 1 seat each. The TMC could not open its tally.With Wednesday’s defection, the BJP is up to 28 in the Assembly, while the two MGP MLAs and 3 Independents continue to support it.The Congress, reduced to 2 last time round, is down to 3.

A lot can happen over 6 months in Goa: From pre-2022 polls, to post results, and now
Oppn trains guns on Sawant after shooting
Times of India | 3 weeks ago | |
Times of India
3 weeks ago | |

Panaji: The fatal shooting at Curchorem where a labourer was killed gave the opposition another opportunity to put chief minister Pramod Sawant in the cross hairs. GFP and Congress said that Goa’s law and order situation is deteriorating.The parties were reacting after unidentified persons fired at three labourers who were extracting sand. One person was killed, one injured, while the third person had a narrow escape.“BJP is turning Goa into a lawless state,” said state Congress chief Amit Patkar. “Curchorem is turning into Bihar.”Cuncolim Congress MLA Yuri Alemao said that the “irresponsible attitude” of the BJP government has emboldened criminals to indulge in crimes in broad daylight. Alemao, the party’s working president, said that by “becoming puppets of the government” Goa police has lost its credibility.Sawant has come under fire ever since the alleged murder of Haryana Tik Tok star Sonali Phogat and police investigations indicating that party drug MDMA was used by the perpetrators. With Phogat’s family accusing Goa police of incompetence and a shoddy investigation, the shooting at Curchorem once again raises question marks over safety in the state.“When will it occur to the chief minister what’s obvious to the whole world? Not only has he put himself under a cloud with his suspicious conduct, he’s also brought disgrace to Goa and Goans,” said GFP chief Vijai Sardesai.GFP has reiterated its demand that Sawant should step down as home minister.“There is complete failure of law and order in the state. Drugs, Siddhi Naik’s murder, Sonali Phogat’s murder and now gunshots being fired,” said GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat.“Illegal sand extraction is running at the behest of environment minister Nilesh Cabral in his own constituency. I demand that the chief minister to immediately stop illegal mining and arrest the culprits,” said Patkar.

Oppn trains guns on Sawant after shooting
Let CBI probe teen’s death at Calangute too, says Vijai Sardesai
Times of India | 4 weeks ago | |
Times of India
4 weeks ago | |

PANAJI: The state government’s inclination to hand over Haryana BJP politician Sonali Phogat’s case to the CBI proves that investigation into her alleged murder has been incompetently handled, GFP said on Sunday. GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that if the Haryana politician’s death is going to be probed by the CBI, then the mysterious death of teenager Siddhi Naik at Calangute beach, last year, should also be given the same importance and handed over to CBI. “Chief minister Pramod Sawant’s willingness to hand over Sonali Phogat’s murder to the CBI is a confession of the government of Goa’s pathetic incompetence and its miserable attempt to misdirect from the facts of the case, and validates the family’s trust deficit in the Goa chief minister, his words and his police,” Sardesai said. Stating that all victims deserve equal treatment, the GFP president demanded that the investigation into the death of 19-year old on Calangute beach should also be reopened and handed over to CBI. “I speak for Siddhi Naik. I demand that the botched up, and shut case of Siddhi Naik be reopened and handed over to CBI forthwith. BJP government’s callousness and incompetence denied a girl and her family a fair, thorough probe. Justice must be done to all,” he said. Earlier this month, Goa police’s crime branch moved to close the investigation into Naik’s death after police did not find any evidence to substantiate the murder angle.

Let CBI probe teen’s death at Calangute too, says Vijai Sardesai
  • Let CBI probe teen’s death at Calangute too, says Vijai
  • Times of India

    Panaji: The state government’s inclination to hand over Haryana BJP politician Sonali Phogat’s case to the CBI proves that investigation into her alleged murder has been incompetently handled, GFP said on Sunday.GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that if the Haryana politician’s death is going to be probed by the CBI, then the mysterious death of teenager Siddhi Naik at Calangute beach, last year, should also be given the same importance and handed over to CBI. “Chief minister Pramod Sawant’s willingness to hand over Sonali Phogat’s murder to the CBI is a confession of the government of Goa’s pathetic incompetence and its miserable attempt to misdirect from the facts of the case, and validates the family’s trust deficit in the Goa chief minister, his words and his police,” Sardesai said.Stating that all victims deserve equal treatment, the GFP president demanded that the investigation into the death of 19-year old on Calangute beach should also be reopened and handed over to CBI.“I speak for Siddhi Naik. I demand that the botched up, and shut case of Siddhi Naik be reopened and handed over to CBI forthwith. BJP government’s callousness and incompetence denied a girl and her family a fair, thorough probe. Justice must be done to all,” he said.Earlier this month, Goa police’s crime branch moved to close the investigation into Naik’s death after police did not find any evidence to substantiate the murder angle.

‘GFP will conduct membership drive to expand presence’
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: Goa Forward Party (GFP) held its state executive committee meeting on Friday where the party, which has just one seat in the 40-member house, decided to expand its presence in the remaining 39 assembly constituencies. While the party remains in alliance with Congress, GFP has decided not to let the alliance restrict its expansion plans.“Our state executive, which met today at Goemkar Ghor, resolved to strengthen the party in all constituencies while exposing the government of Goa’s incompetence and corruption that’s hitting Goans hard,” said GFP president Vijai Sardesai. “We reiterated our resolve to always stand by Goans.”Sardesai described the meeting as a routine event and added that the party will be launching a membership drive in the coming weeks.“We have decided to go all out in all the constituencies and build the organisation,” said Sardesai.Right now the party has a limited presence in six to seven constituencies where it has contested elections. However, GFP runs the risk of losing its recognition as a political party if it does not increase its vote share in the next elections.The party, that was born just months ahead of the 2017 state assembly elections, has repeatedly insisted that only a regional party could help protect Goa’s identity, culture and interests.GFP fought the recent assembly elections as an alliance partner of Congress. But with the latter facing an internal rebellion and struggling to don the mantle of principal opposition party, Sardesai has emerged as the loudest, and often sole, opposition voice.“We will expose this government’s misdeeds. We will soon start a membership drive and form various wings of the party. The student’s cell has been reactivated recently,” said Sardesai.

‘GFP will conduct membership drive to expand presence’
GFP writes to PM, seeks central probe in tur dal wastage
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: Goa Forward Party (GFP) has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking an independent investigation initiated by central government agencies into the actions of the entire cabinet in 2020, which resulted in wastage of over 240 tonne tur dal meant to reach the poor in the state.GFP president Vijai Sardesai called for the guilty to be taken to task. “It was unfortunate to know that the government couldn’t distribute the tur dal meant for distribution. Out of 408 tonne tur dal, only 167 tonnes was distributed,” Sardesai said.Till date the government has not justified the need to procure tur dal and didn’t even conduct any study to find the demand for it prior to its procurement, he said.“Recently, the chief minister had announced that he will order a vigilance probe into the wastage of tur dal. This announcement appears to be a farce since the Goa vigilance department cannot investigate anyone above the level of secretary. The decision to procure tur dal involves the cabinet of the state. This has to be investigated by Lokayukta, which now has been rendered toothless,” Sardesai added.The failure is not an isolated case as the abysmal state of Goa’s food and public distribution is highlighted in the recent State Ranking Index for National Food Security Act where Goa stood last in the general category rankings, the party pointed out.“The state fared poorly in the evaluation of the process of allocation, movement, recording inventory and transactions. The state has not constituted the State Food Commission as per Section 16 (1) of the NFSA 2013,” GFP stated in the letter to Modi.

GFP writes to PM, seeks central probe in tur dal wastage
Cabinet note shows CM’s nod for tur dal purchase: GFP, Cong
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: A cabinet note from April 2020 pertaining to the purchase of tur dal surfaced online on Monday prompting Congress and GFP to turn the heat on the government. GFP president Vijai Sardesai and state Congress chief Amit Patkar accused chief minister Pramod Sawant and former civil supplies minister Govind Gaude of denying their role in the fiasco that saw more than 200 tonne of tur dal getting rotten in a government godown.The cabinet note, which was signed by then civil supplies secretary Isha Khosla, states that Sawant and Gaude approved the purchase of 408 tonnes of tur dal for public distribution at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.“The chief minister cannot distance himself from this scam and say that he did not want the dal to be procured,” said Sardesai. “I am going to write to the PM because this scam happened during the lockdown and the guilty have to be brought to book.”Sawant said that the state vigilance department will investigate why over 200 tonne of rotten tur dal that have been lying in the godowns of the department of civil supplies since the start of the pandemic were allowed to rot. Sawant said that, after the inquiry, those found responsible will be punished.“He should not try to make some government officer a scapegoat. There is a procurement scam here and he needs to go in depth into this through an SIT,” said Sardesai. State civil supplies director Gopal Parsekar said 400 tonne of tur dal had been delivered to the department’s godowns at the start of the pandemic for distribution in containment zones through fair price shops. Of this, 242 tonne of the pulses valued at Rs 1.5 crore remained unsold at the godowns.The pulses were procured at Rs 79,000 per tonne and were to be sold to ration card holders at Rs 83 per kg over a period of two months.Congress said that BJP’s lies are unravelling.

Cabinet note shows CM’s nod for tur dal purchase: GFP, Cong
Merger of schools irrational, says GFP
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: The government must immediately withdraw its decision to merge 200-odd schools and come up with a holistic policy in education after careful deliberation with all the education stakeholders, GFP said on Thursday. GFP said that such a drastic step will have huge implications and should have been deliberated in detail before being abruptly announced by chief minister Pramod Sawant.The party described Sawant’s announcement as “irrational” and as an attempt to impress the national high command.“The state government has taken the decision to amalgamate schools over the weekend in a hurry to meet the August 7 deadline set by the Centre. There is no formal policy document in place,” said Durgadas Kamat, GFP’s general secretary.GFP said that the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has already exposed the “mismanagement in the education system” but the “policy paralysis in the Goa government” has worsened under Sawant.“Students, teachers and parents are being put through hardships just because the government is bankrupt and wants to shut down many government schools,” said Kamat.The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 provides for access to elementary schools for children of the age group of 6-14 years, within the defined area or limits of neighbourhood.“The decision to amalgamate schools goes against the spirit of the Act. The idea behind Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan was to take schools to the villages. Today, the government wants to take the students out of the villages. This will lead to further dropouts in schools,” said Kamat.He said that education is a state subject and therefore careful deliberation is needed before any decision is taken. “The state government cannot act like a child trying to impress his teacher in class by being the first to submit the homework on time, albeit incomplete and full of mistakes.The decision to merge schools and the adoption of anganwadis by schools are the two irrational decisions that the Sawant government has taken within a week, said Kamat.“Not only do these two entities fall under two separate departments, the objectives are distinct.The government must withdraw both these decisions and come up with a holistic policy in education after careful deliberation with all the education stakeholders,” said Kamat.

Merger of schools irrational, says GFP
GFP flays govt for poor thrust on education sector
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: GFP on Monday criticised the state government for the falling school enrolment and other shortfalls in the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Blaming chief minister Pramod Sawant for the faulty implementation of the SSA scheme, GFP said Sawant remains focused on selling Goa’s resources instead of investing in the education of the future generation.Citing the Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) report, GFP said that the education department’s lapses negatively affected the students.“The CAG exposed the government’s failure and policy paralysis in the school education sector. The CAG pointed out various shortfalls of the government indicating lethargy and financial bankruptcy plaguing this government,” GFP vice-president Dilip Prabhudesai said.The CAG report stated that the Goa government failed to prepare the perspective five-year plans, annual work plans and budget at the district-level because of which the Centre withheld funding for the education sector. The report also showed a drop in the student enrolment ratio.“Infrastructure works in various schools are pending and the government has not provided uniforms to students. More than 400 schools are operating with just one teacher,” Prabhudesai said.In a reply to a question in the assembly, Sawant, who holds the education portfolio, said that no amount was allocated by the Centre towards the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan for 2021-22. However, the Centre has informed the Parliament that Rs 18.6 crore was approved for Goa of which Rs 4.1 crore was released.

GFP flays govt for poor thrust on education sector
‘CM talks about libraries, but slashes funding’
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

Panaji: Calling out chief minister Pramod Sawant who urged Goans to create personal libraries and read more, Goa Forward Party (GFP) said that the BJP-led state government has drastically slashed funding for libraries and books.Providing data from the state budget, GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that Sawant, who also holds the education portfolio, has stopped funding school libraries and has also slashed capital expenditure on state libraries to just 5% of the previous year.“After cutting budgetary allocation for libraries in this budget, our CM talks of Read India and promoting library culture,” said Sardesai. “Capital expenditure for libraries was Rs 2 crore last year, but is just Rs 10 lakh this year.”While Rs 50 lakh was provided in 2021-22 for purchase of books for school libraries, this year no budget provision was made. The budget also provided Rs 20 lakh for setting up modern libraries in higher education colleges as against Rs 28 lakh in the previous year.Funding for the art and culture department to promote and develop libraries and reading culture in the state has also been reduced from Rs 2.5 lakh in 2021-22 to Rs 50,000 this year.Revolutionary Goans Party president Manoj Parab also took a dig at Sawant, questioning how the government permitted Union minister Smriti Irani to setup an illegal bar at Assagao.“Chief minister Pramod Sawant, before advising Goans to have a book library in the house, you should have first told your party leader and Union minister Smriti Irani to start a library in Goa and not an illegal bar,” said Parab.The government has slashed grants to libraries under the private initiative from Rs 20 lakh last year to Rs 15 lakh this year.

‘CM talks about libraries, but slashes funding’
In Goa, BJP embarks on an old agenda: rebuilding history, one temple at a time
The Indian Express | 1 month ago | |
The Indian Express
1 month ago | |

In March, at the beginning of his second stint as the Chief Minister of Goa, Pramod Sawant set the pitch with an announcement that is now at the centre of a heated debate in the state. In his Budget speech to the new legislative Assembly, the CM announced an allocation of Rs 20 crore for rebuilding temples in Goa destroyed during the 451-year Portuguese rule before the state was liberated on December 19, 1961.The temple debate recently got fresh wind when the government told the legislative Assembly – during the just-concluded two-week Monsoon session – that the state Department of Archives and Archeology had no record of how many temples were destroyed during the Portuguese rule but that it would act on information that was in “public domain”.The government’s statement in the Assembly had come in the form of an answer to Goa Forward Party (GFP) MLA Vijai Sardesai and Congress MLA Altone D’Costa who asked for a “list of all religious and heritage sites destroyed by the Portuguese and whether these religious sites or deities were relocated and/or rebuilt; if not, the total budgetary provision made to rebuild temples”.In his written reply, Archives and Archeology Minister Subhash Phal Dessai stated, “List of religious/Heritage sites destroyed by the Portuguese is not available with the Archeology Department. However, several historians have published relevant research on this topic which is available in public domain. Budgetary allocation for Restoration of temple is 20 Cr for financial year 2022-23.”On Wednesday, Sardesai shot back, saying it was “ridiculous” for the government to make a budgetary allocation without having an idea of the scale of the project. “Are they going to do it based on books in the public domain? Does any government function like this? There has to be research first,” he said, adding that the temple issue should not be used to “stoke communal passions”.The promise to rebuild temples destroyed by Goa’s erstwhile Portuguese rulers was made by Sawant ahead of the February Assembly election, in which the BJP won 20 of 40 seats and formed the government with help from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three Independents.“They raised this issue before the election – remember 67 per cent people in Goa voted against the BJP. This issue did not get the kind of traction it would have perhaps got in some other states which are perhaps not as educated or cosmopolitan (as Goa),” said Sardesai, who was a minister from 2017 to 2019 in the former BJP government led by then CM Manohar Parrikar, and whose GFP aligned with the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls this year.“They have not even completed the restoration of the 500-year-old Saptakoteshwar temple in Narwe that was started in 2017 when I was the minister. They are not focusing where they need to focus. They are just causing communal disharmony and hatred that they feel is the calling card of the ruling party,” added Sardesai.Sawant, in many of his speeches, has repeatedly brought up the issue of the temples being destroyed and declared his government’s intention to undo the “atrocities” of the Portuguese. “So many Hindu temples were destroyed by the Portuguese. Our faith and culture was preserved because people ran with their deities and hid them,” Sawant has said more than once.Standing by the government’s decision to rebuild the temples, Chief Minister Sawant responded to Sardesai on the floor of the House, saying, “No one can erase or forget the history of Goa. There is no list (of destroyed temples) that is notified. Practically everyone knows history. When you look at history, there may have been a temple at a certain location in the past. The Archeology and Archives department has undertaken a survey… They will decide which temples need to be rebuilt. Even if we don’t have a notified list, what is there in history is known to all. We will notify it.”Independent writer, researcher and Vice-Chairperson of the Goa Heritage Action Group, Heta Pandit, told The Indian Express that nobody has maintained a record of the number of temples destroyed by the Portuguese and that the government has embarked on an impractical exercise. “Nobody has a record. It is true that some temples were razed to the ground and churches were built. It is also true that some temples were broken down and other temples were built in their place. It is a populist announcement to please a certain segment of Goan society who are, quite frankly, not even bothered about such things. Goans have always lived in complete harmony.”She added that the Rs 20 crore set aside by the government for the purpose was, in any case, “a very small budget to do any reasonable project like the restoration of a temple or a fort”.“Since 1961, when Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule, you (Goa government) have not done anything to preserve the archeological, architectural or even archival material that the government has in its trust. For example, the air-conditioning in the central library, which has some very precious archives, has not been repaired for 15 years. We have so many archeological monuments. Why aren’t we repairing and restoring what we have?” said Pandit.Author, researcher and architectural historian Amita Kanekar said Hindu temples were not the only monuments that were destroyed during Portuguese rule. She pointed out that, like in many parts of the world, if a shrine was destroyed, another was built in its place because the site was considered sacred.“Goa has lost shrines of several faiths. There were Buddhist and Jain shrines here which have disappeared. We know for a fact that when the Portuguese came, they obliterated whatever Muslim shrines were there. The destruction of Hindu shrines came later. The Chief Minister is not talking about the shrines of all these faiths. There were shrines of indigenous communities that were destroyed and are being destroyed even today… This is a political strategy to spread a communal divide.”

In Goa, BJP embarks on an old agenda: rebuilding history, one temple at a time
The case of the disappearing numbers: A look at recent floor tests
The Indian Express | 2 months ago | |
The Indian Express
2 months ago | |

Uddhav Thackeray resigned as Chief Minister of Maharashtra Wednesday, after the Supreme Court did not stay the Assembly floor test scheduled for June 30 called by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, and he faced the prospect of 40-odd of 55 Shiv Sena MLAs with the Eknath Shinde camp. The Sena’s petition seeking disqualification of 16 of the rebel MLAs remains pending.The crisis that brought down the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government has several parallels – from hung Houses to new alliances, to petitions in the Supreme Court:July 2019The 2018 state elections threw up a hung Assembly, with the BJP winning 104 seats, the Congress 80, the JD(S) 37, along with three Independents, in the 224-member House. With the BJP failing to reach the majority mark of 113, forcing BJP leader B S Yediyurappa to step down as Chief Minister within three days, the Congress and JD(S) forged an alliance with the JD(S)’s H D Kumaraswamy as CM.In July 2019, the coalition government hit shaky ground when 17 MLAs (14 from the Congress and three from the JD-S) sought to quit the Assembly, citing differences with the government and CM. The Speaker, K R Ramesh Kumar, elected on the Congress ticket, refused to accept their resignation. With the BJP seen as behind the move, the Congress and JD(S) approached the Speaker seeking that the 17 be disqualified and not allowed to contest the election during the tenure of the then Assembly.The Governor asked the Kumaraswamy government to take a floor test twice, and finally on July 23, 2019, the Congress-JD(S) Ministry fell. The Speaker went on to disqualify the MLAs, which remained away from the Congress-JD(S) reach and sequestered in hotels, and Yediyurappa returned as CM after winning a floor test in the truncated-House of 208. The BJP was able to muster support of 105 MLAs, against the Congress and JD(S)’s combined total of 99.In November 2019, on the plea of the 17 MLAs against the Speaker’s order, the Supreme Court upheld their disqualification but not the directive that they could not contest the election till 2023. In the bypolls held the next month, 11 of the 17 were re-elected to the House, on BJP tickets.October 2010The Yediyurappa-led BJP government had a slender majority – at 117, just four more than the cut off mark of 113. In October 2010, 11 of its MLAs withdrew support. The Congress and JD(S) had 101 MLAs, and posed a challenge in case of six Independents swaying their way.On October 6, the Speaker, K G Bopaiah, allied to the BJP, disqualified the rebel MLAs under the anti-defection law, just after Governor Hans Raj Bharadwaj had asked Yediyurappa to initiate a trust motion. With the rebel MLAs disqualified and the House strength down to 213, Yediyurappa won the trust vote by a voice vote and support of 106 MLAs, amid chaos.In May 2011, the Supreme Court held that some of the actions of the Speaker in disqualifying the 11 MLAs did not “meet the twin tests of natural justice and fair play”. It also said Yediyurappa had ignored Constitutional norms.January 2006The 2004 Karnataka Assembly polls had thrown up a hung verdict, with the BJP winning 79 seats, the Congress 65 and the JD(S) 58. The Congress and JD(S) initially formed an alliance with Dharam Singh of the Congress as CM.In January 2006, a dissident group of 42 MLAs of the JD(S), led by Kumarswamy, withdrew support to the Congress, and allied with the BJP. Dharam Singh resigned and the Governor invited the BJP and JD(S) to form the new government.Kumaraswamy struck a deal that the two parties would hold power for 20 months each. But the coalition collapsed in October 2007, after the JD(S) reneged on transferring power to the BJP. President’s rule was imposed, and the next Assembly elections were held in May 2008.2019In March 2019, newly appointed Chief Minister Sawant urged Governor Mridula Sinha to summon the Assembly for a floor test on March 20, 2019, after sitting CM Manohar Parrikar’s death. Sawant resigned from the Speaker’s chair before he was sworn in as CM ahead of the floor test, and Michael Lobo, then Deputy Speaker, carried out the proceedings.The Congress had 14 MLAs, the BJP 12. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP) had three each. The NCP had one candidate and there were three Independents. The strength of the Goa Assembly is 40, but there were only 36 sitting MLAs at the time (Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souzaas had died and two Congress MLAs had resigned).Sawant won the floor test with the support of 20 MLAs, after the MGP and GFP MLAs as well as three Independents voted for him.Sawant consolidated his strength in July 2019, after 10 Congress MLAs and two MGP MLAs defected to the BJP.1995The BJP won 121 of 182 seats in the 1995 Assembly elections in Gujarat – its highest till then – in the backdrop of the Babri Masjid demolition and the subsequent riots. However, many MLAs were upset with Keshubhai Patel being made CM. They were believed to have the backing of then BJP general secretary and Gujarat in-charge Narendra Modi.While Patel was away in the US, leaving Ashok Bhatt behind as caretaker CM, Shankersinh Vaghela, then a BJP MP from Godhra, claimed the backing of 105 MLAs and launched a coup in September 1995.The MLAs were first taken to Vaghela’s village in Vasan and later to the home of a Congress leader in a village in Gandhinagar. While some of the MLAs were lured back by the BJP, Vaghela flew the remaining 55 out to Congress-ruled Madhya Pradesh overnight.They only returned after senior BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee agreed to replace the CM. Suresh Mehta was subsequently appointed CM.But as remnants of the discontent followed the party, in 1996, during a meeting to felicitate Vajpayee, now the Prime Minister, the MLAs literally came to blows. An MLA was stripped of his dhoti and another was nearly set ablaze.The House was placed under “suspended animation”. The Governor was hospitalised at the time when Vaghela staked claim to form the government after parading 103 MLAs before him, including of the BJP, Congress and some Independents. The BJP MLAs numbered 48, more than one-third of the total, thus escaping the anti-defection law. Vaghela became CM.(with inputs from Johnson T A, Mayura Janwalkar, Leena Misra)

The case of the disappearing numbers: A look at recent floor tests
GFP stands by ‘regionalistic intent’, to strengthen party at grassroots
Times of India | 3 months ago | |
Times of India
3 months ago | |

Panaji: Goa Forward Party (GFP) held its state executive committee meeting on Monday where the party “emphatically and unanimously” said that it would continue to stand by its “regionalistic intent.” Party president Vijai Sardesai chaired the meeting at the Goemkar Ghor office. While acknowledging the setback after the February 14 elections, Sardesai directed the party functionaries to focus on strengthening the party at all levels. The state executive committee members also discussed political developments in the state and organisational activities ahead of the coming panchayat elections. “We emphatically and unanimously endorsed the regionalistic intent on which our party was founded, and reiterated our commitment to uphold and defend the interests of Goa and Goemkars without fear,” said Sardesai. The party, that was born just months ahead of the 2017 state assembly elections, has repeatedly insisted that only a regional party could help protect Goa’s identity, culture and interests. Given that BJP appears to have cemented itself at the helm of affairs while Congress struggles to pose a significant challenge, GFP finds itself at an inflection point. In a statement, the party said that all the members of the state executive were present for the meeting that was convened on Monday. The decision to strengthen the party at all levels, to identify and pursue issues facing Goa, and to actively partner with Goemkars at grassroots were taken.

GFP stands by ‘regionalistic intent’, to strengthen party at grassroots
Margao civic chief eyes full 5-yr term
Times of India | 4 months ago | |
Times of India
4 months ago | |

Margao: Chairperson of Margao Municipal Council (MMC) Lyndon Pereira completes one year in office on Friday. Pereira, who won the municipality polls contesting on Goa Forward Party’s (GFP) Fatorda Forward panel, was elected unopposed as the chairperson of the civic body. Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai’s GFP had an alliance with Margao MLA Digambar Kamat for the Margao civic polls, who had propped up his Model Margao panel. Dipali Sawal from the Kamat camp was elected unopposed as the vice-chairperson. Speaking to TOI on Wednesday, Pereira said he was confident of completing his five-year tenure. “I enjoy the cooperation of my fellow councillors, and the MLAs concerned. I will complete my full term,” Pereira said when queried over change of guard, if any. Coinciding with the event, MMC has organised an awareness programme on no-plastic use on Friday. MMC, in collaboration with a Porvorim-based organisation ‘Sensible Earth’ will organise the event based on the theme “maka naka plastic” (I don’t need plastic) at the SGPDA market, Margao. MMC plans to distribute cloth bags to the public on the occasion. Looking back at his “achievements,” Pereira said he presided over development works amounting to Rs 10 crore over the last one year he has been in office. “Setting up a 5 TPD bio-digester at the SGPDA market to treat wet waste, purchase of several vehicles to facilitate garbage collection and revenue recovery, beautification of Lohia Maidan, recovery of outstanding revenue worth Rs 5 crore, installation of CCTV cameras in all departments of the municipality, are just some of the works that happened during my tenure,” he said.

Margao civic chief eyes full 5-yr term
Ensure domicile for Sagar Mitra jobs
Times of India | 4 months ago | |
Times of India
4 months ago | |

Panaji: GFP on Thursday demanded that Konkani and Goan domicile be made mandatory criteria for the 24 Sagar Mitra posts advertised by the directorate of fisheries. GFP general secretary Mohandas Lolienkar said that if the department fails to ensure that locals are given the jobs, GFP would seek legal recourse. While advertising the posts, the directorate said that candidates should have effective communication skills in the ‘local language’ and preferably be a local. GFP said that the vague nature of the advertisement does not specify which local language is being referred to. “The eligibility criteria for Sagar Mitra posts in Goa gives sufficient scope for candidates from neighbouring states or any other state for these posts to be selected for the job,” said Lolienkar. “The recruitment rules for the advertisement may be corrected by specifying Konkani as the local language in the advertisement along with a 15-year domicile in Goa as a mandatory requirement.” GFP said that it would prefer if the Sagar Mitra supposed to assist fishermen, is a local from the fishing village. Party general secretary Durgadas Kamat said that the fisheries department of others states have “explicitly mentioned” the name of their local language for the Sagar Mitra posts. “In comparison to Goa other states have stated that the candidate must be a local of the village, neighbouring village or at least the district as the Sagar Mitra. They have also stated that the candidate must give a declaration that they must be willing to stay in the village they will be working in. This is to ensure that the Sagar Mitras can spend an extensive amount of time in the fishing villages. We will await prompt action after which we will be forced to take legal course in this matter,” said Kamat.

Ensure domicile for Sagar Mitra jobs
No one should intrude in faith
Times of India | 4 months ago | |
Times of India
4 months ago | |

Panaji: In a broad hint at the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi, GFP said that no one should intrude into matters of faith and belief. GFP president Vijai Sardesai said that Goa’s communal harmony is admired by other states and Goans must ensure that this is not shattered. “We must make sure that we do not intrude on matters of faith and belief, and must keep personal spaces out of public debate. No one can tell anyone else who St Francis Xavier or Lord Parashuram should be to them,” said Sardesai. Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) sanghchalak and Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi convenor Subhash Velingkar described St Francis Xavier as anti-national. Velingkar said that a campaign ‘The Goa Files’ will be launched from May 3, to make Parshuram the ‘Goencho Saib’. While Sardesai did not directly name the RSS, the Hindu Raksha Maha Aghadi or Velingkar, he said that no one should attempt to “influence or decide for others, or shape their thinking”, particularly in matters of faith. “Leave such things to each Goemkar who is mature, progressive and pluralistic to lead their own lives and make their own decisions. Let’s all look to the future and see how we can as Goans shape it for the betterment of all,” said Sardesai. Meanwhile, Sardesai appointed Cuncolim municipal councillor Uddesh Naik Dessai as GFP’s students cell convener. GFP general secretary Durgadas Kamat handed over letter of appointment to Dessai.

No one should intrude in faith
Allies GFP, Cong in a war of words
Navhind Times | 6 months ago | |
Navhind Times
6 months ago | |

Staff ReporterPanajiThe Goa Forward Party (GFP) on Saturday condemned the statement made by a leader of the Congress party wherein he blamed the alliance with GFP for the grand old party’s failure in the recently-held state assembly elections.“We condemn the statement made by Congress’ North Goa district unit president Vijay Bhike wherein he said that aligning with GFP was the major reason for Congress party’s debacle in assembly polls,” said GFP leader Deepak Kalangutkar.He further said the GFP chief Vijai Sardesai had called for the formation of team Goa around two years back to take on the BJP in the state. “Vijai Sardesai had also met Rahul Gandhi and made things clear,” he said,addingthat the Congress party had allotted the Mandrem, Mayem and Fatorda constituencies to GFP.“Our founder member Prashant Naik worked closely in Canacona too even though we did not get that seat in the seat-sharing formula. That shows our commitment,” he said.Another GFP leader Santosh Kumar Sawant said it was unfortunate on the part of Bhike to blame the GFP for Congress’ failure in the polls.The Congress party, meanwhile, issued a show-cause notice to Bhike on Saturday over his “derogatory” remark against the GFP and its chief.“It has been brought to the notice of the party that you have made certain derogatory remarks against our alliance partner Goa Forward Party and its leader, Shri Vijai Sardesai, MLA,suo motu, without taking the party into confidence and without authorisationof the party and contrary to the stand of the Indian National Congress,” reads the notice issued to Bhike by the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) senior vice-president M. K. Shaikh.“Such statements not only damage the standing of the Indian National Congress but also raise doubts about the genuineness of the alliance, which continues to be in existence even as of date. It is evident that such reckless statements are not only malicious but also intended to jeopardise the healthy alliance,” the notice reads further.The order has been issued by Shaikh on the directions of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary in-charge of Goa Dinesh Gundu Rao.It is pertinent to note that Bhike had on March 16 termed the forming of the Congress party’s pre-poll alliance with GFP as a “mistake” for which the Congress party, he said, suffered a loss. Bhike had also said that due to some leaders, the party workers had to suffer the consequences.The Congress has asked Bhike to submit his explanation in writing within three days failing which the party has said that appropriate disciplinary action will be initiated against him.

Allies GFP, Cong in a war of words