Devika Sequeira | The Wire: Stuck with finding a replacement for Manohar Parrikar, the Bharatiya Janata Party has resorted to the cynical ploy of putting the Goa government in a total state of freeze. But there’s more trouble looming round the corner for the saffron party. It comes in the shape of the outspoken former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, who recently articulated the widely held perception that the seriously ill chief minister was being prevented from signing off, so the “power hungry” BJP can continue to cling to power.
Parrikar’s health was “deteriorating very fast”, but a small cabal of insiders had assumed control of his affairs to the extent that no one was allowed to visit the chief minister to prevent the public from knowing “his true condition”, Velingkar told The Wire. He said he’d been told Parrikar’s brother too had not been allowed to visit him recently. The former RSS man named a high profile government lawyer, a doctor and a minor party functionary running the inner clique for putting out information on the Goa CM’s health “that no one believes”.
Earlier in the week, responding to media questions on the chief minister’s medical condition, health minister Vishwajit Rane’s remarks raised eyebrows, when he said people often defied medical science to get better and he believed “a miracle can happen” in Parrikar’s case. Rane is among those lobbying to become chief minister.
Sacked from the RSS in September 2016 for his unsparing criticism of Parrikar’s education policy, Velingkar’s rebellion caused the first ever split in the Sangh when he formed a parallel RSS Goa Prant – renamed Bharat Mata Ki Jai since. The dismissal from the right-wing mother lode he had nurtured in Goa is an ignominy he hasn’t forgotten. “They sent three letters sacking me. It was done in connivance with the BJP’s central leaders,” he says. The bitter parting of ways continues to resonate politically in Goa. In last year’s election, Velingkar and his RSS supporters campaigned extensively against the BJP in constituencies where the Sangh has a footprint. Several RSS-rooted BJP MLAs were defeated in the 2017 election, including the former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar.
Ninety-five percent of the Goa RSS cadre is now a part of his rebel organisation. The Sangh’s shakas here have been practically wiped out by the exodus to the shakti kendras of his group, Velingkar claims. “There are no RSS shakas in Goa. We have 5,000 workers and 107 shakti kendras.” His target, he says, is “to bring down this government and finish the BJP”.
Whether he can indeed make a difference is another matter. But it is hardly good news for a party already in deep turmoil over the leadership crisis and the entry of two former Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte who defected to the BJP on October 16 to bring down the Congress tally in the House from 16 to 14. The BJP’s ruthless cheque-book politics is the last thing Goa needed with its government in a state of paralysis for over eight months ever since Parrikar was diagnosed with cancer.
A day after Shirodkar’s defection, local newspapers were awash with reports of how he’d been rewarded with a land acquisition deal worth Rs 70 crore. The property the government is buying for no reason is being acquired at ten times the market value, the reports said. The case has now been taken to the Goa Lokayukta.
Governor Mridula Sinha’s silence over the charade of a government in Goa has also been criticised. “The governor’s intervention is long overdue,” Prabhakar Timble, a former state election commissioner pointed out. “For the governor to accept that the seat of chief minister is still not vacant is to turn a blind eye to the primary constitutional duty [of her post]”.
A press release put out Saturday said Parrikar would chair a cabinet meet at his residence on Wednesday. The last cabinet meeting was held earlier this year in February. The BJP leader was brought back to Goa from the All India Institute of Medical Science, Delhi on October 14.
Devika Sequeira is a freelance journalist based in Goa.