The BJP-led Goa government completed one year in office today sans any celebration due to the absence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment in the US. The BJP, which had failed to cross the half-way mark in last year’s Assembly polls with its tally dipping to 13 from 21, had pulled off a coup by enlisting the support of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharastrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and two Independents, to reach the magic figure of 21 in the 40-member House. Although the Congress had won 17 seats, only four short of the magic figure to form the government, the saffron party had outmaneuvered the Congress in its bid to power. The GFP, MGP and Independents had agreed to support the BJP to form the government with a rider that the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar returns to the coastal state and be at the helm of affairs. Parrikar took oath as the chief minister of Goa on March 14 along with nine other ministers, forcing the Congress into the opposition benches.
Parrikar was admitted to Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital last month for the treatment of pancreatitis. He went to the US last week for further treatment. “We complete a year in office today, but we have not planned any celebrations as the CM remains out of the country,” senior BJP leader and state Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza said. Parrikar’s absence has left the ruling party in a disoriented state. D’Souza admitted that the administration has slowed down in the last few days due to the chief minister. “We are currently coping with the situation and things would be normalised once Parrikar is back,” he said. When the government was formed, the BJP government had several issues to tackle, namely finalising the Regional Plan, moving out the offshore casinos, challenges before the mining sector and nationalisation of riverways, among others. It seems to have made no headway on these fronts. In a jolt to the mining industry in Goa, the Supreme Court last month quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in the state in 2015, and directed the Centre and the Goa government to grant fresh environmental clearances to them.
Stating that the government’s report card was far from satisfactory, the opposition Congress said the ruling dispensation has failed to deliver on every front. D’Souza, however, claimed, “For last one year, the state government functioned very well. There was no instability or any differences amongst the ruling camp.” The ideological rivalry between GFP and MGP mirrored several times during the year on various issues, but Parrikar mediated and saved the government from facing any crisis-like situation. During the year, the Congress failed to be an effective opposition, except for its wings like Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress, which came out on the streets against the rising prices of coconuts and to seek abolishment of GST on sanitary napkins. Moreover, Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar and Congress leader Digambar Kamat are being investigated by the police in different cases, which has impacted the morale of the party. “The government’s one year is nothing beyond fake and false promises. It failed in almost every front and more so on the development front. Not just in opposition, but even the constituencies represented by ruling MLAs saw no development,” Kavlekar said.
Parrikar, before heading to the US for treatment, had formed a three-member Cabinet Advisory Committee comprising Vijai Sardesai (GFP), D’Souza (BJP) and Sudin Dhavalikar (MGP) to look after the day-to-day affairs of the state. Sardesai said that the formation of government was a “positive political compromise” done by his party in the interest of the state. “During the year, we encountered several difficult phases. These were forced on us by the forces outside the state,” he said. The GFP leader said the ban on sale of liquor along the highways and the current issue of mining shutdown after March 15 were legal verdicts. Sardesai said the ailing chief minister was the biggest factor for the government right now. “We are all praying for his speedy recovery and we are sure that he will be back in the state soon. Till then, I appeal all the coalition partners to help each other to keep the flock together,” he added. MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar said the party has contributed for the stability of the government and it would continue to do it till Parrikar remains the CM. “Our commitment towards the government is till Parrikar remains the chief minister,” he said.