Margao News

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

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

BJP in office today due to Upadhyay: Kamat
Govt urged to scrap amendments to land devpt regulations
Times of India | 2 days ago | |
Times of India
2 days ago | |

Margao: Goyche Fudle Pilge Khatir, an organisation “committed to securing safety of Goa’s future generations,” at an awareness meeting organised by it at Margao on Saturday over the draft amendments made to the Goa Land Development and Building Construction Regulations 2010, called upon the government to scrap the draft amendments to save Goa from imminent destruction.Addressing reporters earlier, members of the organisation said that the amendments will “open up Goa’s khazan lands, paddy fields, plains, industrial areas and forests for rapid, hostile, anti-Goa changes by increasing the density of population and handing over control to private companies aiming profits.”They said that the amendments “turn the state government into an open aggressive agent of real estate lobby” which is “a great betrayal of the people of Goa”. The organisation expressed its determination to “deploy all the legitimate and constitutional means to resist this massive onslaught on Goa” and called upon the people to “rise up in the defense of Goa”. Environmental architect Elsa Fernandes, Abhijeet Prabhudessai of Rainbow Warriors, Sebastian Rodrigues of Bharat Mukti Morcha and Claude Alvares of Goa Foundation were the speakers at the awareness meeting.Prabhudessai said that the amendments include many dilutions such as reducing width of road required, allowing higher FARs for various constructions and removing the need to keep spaces for education and other public utilities for development of areas over five hectares to help builders and land speculators.He added that a recent notification has been passed allowing cutting of hills and filling of low lying areas after paying penalties which means that builders are now free to build anywhere without any permissions, since they can regularise huge buildings with this amendment.

Govt urged to scrap amendments to land devpt regulations
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.

Odisha man stabs himself at Margao railway station
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

MARGAO: Saroj Bariha, 28, a native of Odisha, who had come to Goa in search of work, stabbed himself with a knife at a fast food stall near the Margao railway station on Thursday. Police said that Bariha and his two other companions came by train from Odisha and got down at the Margao railway station. “While they were having snacks at a nearby food stall, Bariha, all of a sudden snatched a knife from the vendor and inflicted injuries on his neck,” police said. He was rushed to the South Goa district hospital, Margao, where he is undergoing treatment. Police said that he is learnt to be of unsound mind.

Odisha man stabs himself at Margao railway station
  • Odisha man stabs himself at Margao rail station
  • Times of India

    Margao: Saroj Bariha, 28, a native of Odisha, who had come to Goa in search of work, stabbed himself with a knife at a fast food stall near the Margao railway station on Thursday.Police said that Bariha and his two other companions came by train from Odisha and got down at the Margao railway station. “While they were having snacks at a nearby food stall, Bariha, all of a sudden snatched a knife from the vendor and inflicted injuries on his neck,” police said. He was rushed to the South Goa district hospital, Margao, where he is undergoing treatment.Police said that he is learnt to be of unsound mind.

Goa: We will return to grassroots to rejuvenate party, says Congress
Times of India | 6 days ago | |
Times of India
6 days ago | |

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

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

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

Goa: Work for development, win both LS seats, Amit Shah, JP Nadda tell new BJP MLAs
Times of India | 6 days ago | |
Times of India
6 days ago | |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Matters of faith and deceit grip Margao municipality politics
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

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.”

Matters of faith and deceit grip Margao municipality politics
Goa: After shift in alliances, all eyes on election for Margao Municipal Council chief today
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goa: Resentment among karyakartas, BJP in damage control mode
Congress’s Goa ex-CM Digambar Kamat makes BJP ghar wapsi after 17 years
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

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.

Congress’s Goa ex-CM Digambar Kamat makes BJP ghar wapsi after 17 years
Goa Congress crisis: Digambar Kamat, ‘retired hurt’ veteran takes another swing at party
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

The most senior of the 11 Congress MLAs in Goa, former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat on Wednesday unfurled the banner of rebellion once again and looks likely to defect to the BJP along with Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and six others. This comes a week after the 68-year-old scotched rumours surrounding a visit to Delhi.A similar drama played out in Goa in July, but the Congress at the time managed to avert a disaster. But just two months later, it has suffered a 2019-style defection of two-thirds of its MLAs to the BJP. In one stroke, the pledges of loyalty that the Congress MLAs had taken in a temple, church and dargah before the Assembly elections have been rendered insincere. 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. The move came at a time when the party appointed 38-year-old Amit Patkar the president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) and Michael Lobo, who joined the party ahead of the elections earlier this year, was appointed the leader of the Congress Legislature Party.Kamat, who had been at the forefront of the Congress’s activities in Goa, took a backseat after that and described himself as “retired hurt”. He continued to maintain that until recently. He said he would be back in active politics when he is better. In an interview to The Indian Express after the political drama in July, Kamat said he was “hurt” when the All India Congress Committee’s (AICC) Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Rao labelled him and Lobo “conspirators” and accused them of trying to engineer take along six other MLAs to the BJP. The Congress also filed a disqualification plea against the two that is still pending before the Speaker. After the petition was filed during the previous defection episode, Kamata said, “I stayed with the party and led it from the front. This is the reward they are giving me now by filing a disqualification petition for anti-party activities. What anti-party activities? I am not able to understand. Whatever it is I will face it. Disqualification is something my lawyers will take care of. I won’t be bothered about it. Party should find out who are the people behind this. Do they want the party to progress or do they want the party to go from bad to worse?”Kamat’s political careerKamat started his political career as a councillor of the Margao Municipal Council from 1985 to 1990. The seven-time MLA from Margao, his fortress, Kamat has oscillated between the Congress and the BJP throughout his career. His journey began in the Congress but he joined the BJP in 1994. The following year, he became MLA for the first time.In 2005, he reportedly brought down the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government before returning to the Congress. Two years later, Kamat became the “compromise” choice for the post of chief minister when the party was divided between senior leaders Ravi Naik and Pratapsingh Rane. Before becoming the CM, Kamat had served as the state’s minister for power, urban development, mines and art and culture.His record as a chief minister was, however, chequered. Kamat was accused in a case of bribery. He was booked along with Churchill Alemao, who was the Public Works Department (PWD) minister from 2007 to 2012, under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for criminal conspiracy. The case pertained to alleged kickbacks paid by US-based company Louis Berger for a consultancy contract for a project on water augmentation and sewerage pipeline. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) is probing the PMLA case and a court has framed charges against Kamat and Alemao. Kamat also disclosed in his poll affidavit three other cases registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act. However, charges have not been framed for those alleged offences.Kamat, who also served as the mining minister for 10 years, was also indicted by a judicial commission for reportedly allowing illegal mining in the state as a result of which a few individuals amassed wealth at the cost of the environment.He continued with the Congress even as it lost power and ahead of the Assembly elections this February, he was the party’s only remaining MLA of the 17 elected in 2017. He was the front-runner to be the next chief minister had the Congress returned to power, with Gundu Rao saying, “Everyone knows who will be the Chief Minister if the Congress forms the government.” But the BJP continued its uninterrupted run in power and formed the government for the third straight term.Following the defection drama in July, the Congress leadership stopped trusting Kamat and a week after the episode Sonia Gandhi, on July 17, removed Kamat as the CWC’s permanent invitee.

Goa Congress crisis: Digambar Kamat, ‘retired hurt’ veteran takes another swing at party
Allow sand mining at fixed sites, says Sardinha
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

Margao: South Goa MP Francisco Sardinha, reacting to the recent Curchorem murder case linked to illegal sand extraction, said that the government should take immediate steps to regularise sand mining by earmarking sand extraction sites.“Sand is an essential commodity for any construction activity. Besides if sand is not extracted siltation will occur in river channels. Sand extraction by traditional methods should be allowed to resume. Use of machines for illegal extraction of sand has led to destruction of bunds,” Sardinha said while addressing reporters at Congress’ South Goa office in Margao, on Thursday. He demanded that the sand extraction by traditional methods be permitted with restrictions such as not being carried out in the vicinity of bunds or bridges. On the land grabbing investigation by SIT, Sardinha said,“I urge the chief minister to set a time frame for SIT to conclude the investigations. Officials involved in land grab cases should be brought to task.” Sardinha said that law and order was fast-deteriorating with proliferation of drugs and rise in murders, “The day will not be far when a Goan staying abroad will feel ashamed to call himself a Goan.” He demanded the chief minister tighten his grip on the administration. He also demanded that potholes be repaired and roads asphalted.

Allow sand mining at fixed sites, says Sardinha
  • Restart sand mining through traditional extractors: CM
  • Times of India

    Panaji: With sand and laterite stones in shortage for construction activities, chief minister Pramod Sawant on Monday directed the mines department to process all pending applications pertaining to minor minerals on priority and act against illegal sand mining and illegal laterite stone quarrying.Sawant also directed the mines department to put in place a proper online transit pass system for transportation of sand or other minor minerals from neighbouring states.The CM held a review meeting with the advocate general, chief secretary, DGP, secretaries, collectors, directorate of mines and geology and other senior officers.While ordering strict vigil on illegal mining activities, he also directed that necessary steps be taken to start sand mining through traditional extractors on an urgent basis.