A bedridden chief minister is the least of the state’s problems
Goa is in a state of economic and political paralysis with virtually no decisions being taken since Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar started treatment for pancreatic cancer in February. Parrikar’s own charges—home, finance, industry and education—have been the worst hit.
The severe nature of the crisis became public recently when the state investment promotion board (IPB) had to withdraw its claim (announced on October 17) that it had cleared eight proposals connected to industries and hotels worth Rs 200 crore. It cited a meeting held under IPB chairman Parrikar through video conferencing. But after the Opposition Congress created a ruckus over whether he had signed the papers, the government backpedalled and said only a discussion on the proposals had happened.
That the state’s economy is in free fall is evident—collections of GST and excise duty have fallen by 20 per cent. The finance ministry has announced a 25 per cent budget cut for all departments as there is a big shortfall in revenue generation. Compare this to Parrikar’s estimate of surplus revenue of Rs 145 crore when he presented a budget of Rs 17,123 crore in February. The Supreme Court ban on mining and the poor power transmission network has only added to its woes. The state, despite having ample electricity, is now facing power cuts.
Parrikar’s absence has been felt on the political front too. The Goa BJP is a divided house today. State BJP president Vinay Tendulkar and former CM
“WE’RE HEARING HE CLEARS FILES. I DOUBT IT,” SAYS CONGRESS CHIEF CHODANKAR
Laxmikant Parsekar have been at each other’s throats since Tendulkar facilitated the entry of Parsekar’s rival Dilip Sopte, a Congress MLA, into the BJP on October 14. And now, two other senior BJP leaders, Rajendra Arlekar and Dayanand Mandrekar, have come out and blasted Tendulkar for giving space to “outsiders”. The situation is delicate as Tendulkar seems to be the frontrunner for the CM’s post in the event that Parrikar has to be replaced. (The other two shortlisted candidates, assembly speaker Pramod Sawant and health minister Vishwajeet Rane, do not have the confidence of the BJP cadre or its allies in government.)
Parrikar’s illness has set the rumour mills churning. At a meeting with reporters on October 26, Rane finally disclosed the open secret that the CM was suffering from pancreatic cancer. “There is no hiding from the fact. Let him be peaceful with his family,” Rane said.
Meanwhile, the allies are getting antsy. MGP chief Dipak Dhavalikar has threatened that they will consider other options if the second-most senior minister, his brother Sudin, is not given the CM’s post in Parrikar’s absence. Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar alleges that some bureaucrats and BJP leaders are holding Parrikar captive. He points to how no one is allowed to meet the ailing CM. “We’re hearing he clears the files. I doubt it... has he really signed those files or is his signature being forged?” Chodankar asks.
DIGGING DEEP Trucks lying idle at the Vedanta Mines compound