Sooner or later, Parrikar has to go: Shripad Naik

Ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s leadership will have to be changed “today or tomorrow”, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik said on Friday, according to an IANS report.

Naik also said that in view of Parrikar’s ill-health, dropping him as the Chief Minister was a “requirement” and a “compulsion” for the BJP leadership. Sooner or later, Parrikar has to go, he said.

“Change will have to be done today or tomorrow. It is a requirement. You know the Chief Minister’s health is not good. But he is still working in this condition,” Naik told mediapersons in Panaji.

Naik is one of the first Goa BJP leaders to demand a change of leadership in Goa even as the state BJP as well as members of the BJP-led coalition have come under immense flak over the Chief Minister’s prolonged absence due to his illness.

Parrikar is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer and has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York and Delhi for nearly nine months.

He returned from New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and has not moved out of his private residence, for any official event since.

The opposition has been demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister, claiming that the administration has come to a standstill due to Parrikar’s absence.

To a question, as to whether it was fair to let an unwell Parrikar to handle administrative matters despite his illness, Naik said: “There are many reasons, which cannot be fully talked about. Thing will happen in time.”

Naik also said that he would take the lead to patch up differences among top BJP leaders, including former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar and Goa Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, who have openly rebelled against the decision taken by state BJP President Vinay Tendulkar and Parrikar to induct two Congress MLAs into the BJP.

with inputs from IANS

Experts see red over Goa’s proposed tourism policy

The Goa government’s draft tourism policy and tourism master plan came in for severe criticism from different stakeholders and civil society activists at an interactive session convened here by the Centre for Responsible Tourism, a Church-affiliated body, on Wednesday.

The State tourism department has sought suggestions on its report on the tourism policy and master plan. The policy has been uploaded on the tourism department’s website and is open for suggestions from stakeholders and public.

Experts and activists have pointed out several flaws in the draft tourism policy and called it a “top-down master plan” prepared by foreign consultants without any discussion with the people.

More time sought
The last date to submit suggestions for the draft master plan, according to the State government, is November 11, but the CRT has demanded at least three months to study it and come up with suggestions.

The CRT has also demanded that the draft be translated into vernacular and be circulated to village panchayats for greater awareness on it through gram sabhas. It has also questioned the Goa government as to why the draft is not being published in the State gazette.

Goa University scientist and social activist Nandkumar Kamat evaluated the proposed plan and lambasted the proposal for hiding crucial information about major aspects like income generated through tourism in the State which gets close to 6.5 million tourists, including 0.06 million foreign tourists, per year.

He lamented that the master plan prepared by a professional consultant, KPMG, hides more things than it reveals. “Is it tourism for Goa or Goa for tourism? Is tourism for the benefit of people of Goa or Goa’s people are for tourism?” asked an indignant Mr. Kamat.

Besides the economic dimension, the earnings from domestic and foreign tourists have been kept hidden from the public, he claimed.

“The draft plan says nothing about income from tourism to the State, which, according to information obtained through a Right to Information plea, is around ₹29,400 crore or around 40% of the Goa’s GDP. The government fears questions from the people if the figures are revealed,” said Mr. Kamat, adding that the proposed master plan is a “copy-paste job which had no place for Goa’s environment, ecology, culture, heritage”.

‘Amateurish draft’
“Rather this document seems to be a Trojan horse for the Goa Tourism Board which hides the fact that such instrument is absent in all other States which are ahead of Goa in tourism. A public policy needs to have a clear mission statement and principles, present current situation and analyses, clearly and concisely state the goals, objectives, strategies and action plans, spell out steps for responsible tourism and provide details of implementation and review. This draft is very amateurish and purely academic in nature,” said Mr. Kamat.

He also objected to a proposed autonomous Tourism Board in the policy and master plan saying if it is headed by the State Minister of Tourism as proposed therein then it is a mockery of autonomy.

Retired scientist from Goa-based National Institute of Oceanography, Antonio Mascarenhas, raised concern that the proposed master plan makes no mention of sand dunes, mangroves or ecologically sensitive areas of the coastal tourist State.

Mr. Valmiki Naik of Aam Aadmi Party said that the proposed master plan has very little of statistics and gives too much of importance to casinos.

Serafino Cota, former president of Small and Medium Restaurants Association in South Goa, suspected it was a scam and said that the draft master plan laid too much emphasis on PPP and profits for private players while there is nothing for the common people.

Source: The Hindu

RTI Activists and NGOs announce an indefinite fast unto death to protest against Goa CM Parrikar’s reluctance to hand over charge

The Goa Citizen’s Action Forum (GCAF), national RTI awardee Rajan S Ghate and NGO Nari Adhikar along with others on Friday announced that they would undertake an indefinite fast unto death to protest against the failure of the Goa government to find solutions and take action against issues like rising unemployment, rise in prevalence of gambling due to spread of Casino culture, failure of the Goa government including the Goa CM Manohar Parrikar to allocate important portfolios like Home, Finance, Industries, etc., to capable and responsible Ministers and others.

Speaking at the press conference held at Panaji, national RTI awardee Rajan Ghate who will inaugurate the fast unto death and social activist Anil N Laad said: “I am giving the BJP-led Goa government a notice of 7 days’ time to announce a solution to the issues like rising unemployment, loss of jobs, spread of gambling and Casino culture and the failure of the Goa CM Manohar Parrikar to allocate important portfolios like Home, Finance, Industries, etc., to capable and responsible Ministers, so that the work of these ministries is not hampered and is carried out under the responsible, day-to-day supervision of the Minister holding the portfolio.”

NGO Nari Adhikar along with the Goa Citizen’s Action Forum (GCAF) is carrying out a socio-medico-academic survey in certain poorer sections of Goa to understand the unemployment problem in detail and to study the impact of certain socio-geographical indicators over the overall health of the people of Goa.

Adv Diya Shetkar of the NGO Nari Adhikar said that the survey has already begun in the Ponda-Shiroda belt and we will cover the entire State in batches over a period of 3-4 months. Nari Adhikar and GCF strongly condemn the lackadaisical attitude and failure of the Goa government to address the unemployment problem in the state, which is causing frustration among youth and forcing them into gambling, drugs and other vices.

“According to information from the Govt of Goa Statistics Dept and the Personnel Dept, the new jobs creation (in the government sector) for the year 2018 stood at ZERO. This means the Goa govt has not been able to create new jobs for the youth of Goa. It has come to my knowledge that BJP leaders in Goa are selling government jobs to the highest bidder in their constituencies. Instead of giving out job contracts to Goans, former GTDC chairman and BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral has given out contracts for services like tea/coffee vending, maintenance and serving to contractors from Delhi who bring their own labour from outside Goa. These contracts are arbitrarily awarded for periods and durations of 10-15 years, without any bidding, which is completely illegal,” said Adv Diya Shetkar of Nari Adhikar.

According to activist Kenneth Silveira: the coalition partner of the BJP government, the Goa Forward Party had made Casinos a big poll issue and senior office bearers of the GFP had even filed court cases against the casinos. But after coming to power, the senior leaders of GFP have now withdrawn the court cases against the casinos and the reason is obvious.”

I have heard that one casino owner has funded the US treatment costs of the Goa CM to the tune of Rs 2 crore. The money was transferred from a US bank account of the Casino magnate directly to the cancer hospital where the CM was undergoing treatment.

The government has not been able to solve the fish traders/fish importers formalin issue. The Health Minister says  one thing and the traders say a different thing all-together. At the end of the day, it’s the common man who is inconvenienced and has to pay more as the fish mafia is creating an artificial scarcity of fish.

The local transport system has completely collapsed in Goa. Every day 8-10 buses of the Kadamba Transport break down on the road causing great inconvenience to the public. There is no proper maintenance of the buses. Due to traffic congestion, the buses arrive very late and the public are made to stand in queues at the Margao and Panaji main bus stands as back-up drivers are not available during peak hours.

Congress leader Diya Shetkar alleges gangrape, murder threat by BJP leader Subhash Shirodkar’s supporters

In a serious allegation, a female Congress leader on Sunday accused BJP leader Subhash Shirodkar’s supporters of threatening her of gang-rape and killing if she campaigned in his constituency.

Shirodkar is a former Congress MLA and represented Shiroda in Goa Legislative Assembly. He had recently joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The Congress party worker and lawyer in a complaint to the police at Panaji in Goa saying that she got a telephone call early on Sunday morning asking her to “not to do anything against him (Shirodkar) in Siroda constituency”.

Speaking to news agency ANI, the Congress leader said, “BJP leader Subhash Shirodkar’s goons are threatening me of gang-rape and killing. The BJP govt is tarnishing my image. In the morning, I got a call threatening me to not do anything against him in Shiroda constituency.”

In her complaint submitted at the Panaji Police Station, she said that she received a call on Sunday morning from an unknown person, who claimed to be Shirodkar`s supporter, who used “abusive and vulgar” language while delivering the threat to her.

“I was threatened with gang-rape by the caller if I entered constituency of Shirodkar, a former Congress MLA who joined the BJP last month, and campaigned against him,” she told the media.

The police said a non-cognizance complaint had been registered against an unknown person following the complaint.

While Shirodkar could not be contacted, state BJP General Secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavde said, “I do not know about the complaint, but I will find out.”

Shirodkar, along with another now-former Congress MLA Dayanand Sopte quit the Congress and joined the BJP.

Dassault paid Anil Ambani Rs 284 crore as kickback: Rahul Gandhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that French jet maker Dassault Aviation paid kickbacks to Indian industrialist Anil Ambani who bagged the offset contract in the 36 Rafale aircraft deal in April 2015.

Addressing his sixth press conference on the matter at AICC headquarters, Gandhi said Dassault CEO claims Ambani got the offset contract because he had the land for the company but “he lied”.

“It turns out Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in Anil Ambani’s company worth Rs 8.30 lakh valuation. It was with this money that Ambani bought the land needed for the company. Dassault CEO is lying and the question is why he paid this amount to a loss making firm? This is the first tranche of kickbacks given to Anil Ambani by Dassault and this is clear as day,” Gandhi alleged.

On a query about the government saying everything is above board in the deal, Gandhi said HAL had more land than Ambani but was sidelined. He asked why.

“Ambani bought land with the money Dassault gave him. Why is Dassault CEO lying? Who is he protecting? There is only one person he is protecting and that is PM Narendra Modi. This is clear cut 100 per cent open and shut case of corruption. Rs 284 crore has gone into Ambani’s account for absolutely no logical reason other than a kickback,” Gandhi said, adding that the PM “cannot survive an inquiry in the matter which was why the CBI chief was removed as he was looking at these papers”.

He reiterated the demand of a joint parliamentary committee probe into the deal.

“Modi is terrified. Rafale is open and shut case and one of partnership between Modi and Ambani. Fact is Ambani didn’t pay for the land — Dassault did. The CBI chief was looking at these papers. It is obvious that there is enough material in the public domain to nail Modi and the CBI chief was removed,” said Gandhi.

On the question of SC asking for pricing details of the jet, Gandhi said the French President had told him privately that pricing was not covered by a secret pact.

“I keep saying Rafale is an open and shut case of corruption because the deal was negotiated for a decade. Modi personally, not ex-Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, changed everything,” Gandhi added.

Source: The Tribune

My life is in danger, I may be raided by CBI, ED, IT or booked under NSA: Francis D’souza

BJP MLA from Goa, and former Deputy CM Francis D’Souza, said that if he were to criticize his party he might be raided by enforcement agencies including the CBI and his life may be in danger.

Until recently, D’Souza was the law minister in Manohar Parrikar’s cabinet, before he was shunted out due to his ill-health.

D’Souza told NDTV, “I might get raided by Income Tax, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED), or I may be even booked under the National Security Act for speaking against the party.” He also said there could be a threat to his life, if he criticized the party high command.

D’Souza alleged that in 2017, Ramesh Tawadkar, a fellow BJP member and former sports minister in the cabinet of then BJP chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, had been raided by the IT department when he had complained about not receiving a ticket for the 2017 Goa assembly elections. He said that Parsekar had also been raided similarly.

However, D’Souza has said that he was not contemplating resigning as an MLA.

The BJP government has been accused of misusing law enforcement agencies to intimidate political rivals.

Previously, Yogendra Yadav, president of Swaraj India party and a BJP critic had said that the his sister’s hospital was raided to silence him.

Similarly, several AAP lawmakers, including minister Kailash Gehlot, have been at the receiving end of raids by the income tax department.

with inputs from NDTV

Aam Aadmi Party demands President’s rule in Goa

PANAJI: The Aam Aadmi Party in Goa on Wednesday demanded the dissolution of the state assembly and imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Addressing a press conference in the city, AAP Goa Convenor Elvis Gomes said, ”Governance does not stop. Therefore best thing is to go for President’s Rule. The government has done away with 25 per cent expenditure. This shows that they are not in a position to garner revenue. So there is the possibility of going into a debt trap. That is why we are demanding President’s Rule so that some respect will be there for administration.”

“People will be able to know who can dispense with some justice.” He alleged that state government was merely for the sake of existence and bureaucracy was not taking responsibility.

“We are demanding President’s Rule as the state has to come under some semblance of governance,” he said.

He said if the assembly was dissolved and a caretaker chief minister was appointed then it would be another worry.

“That is why we are demanding complete dissolution of the assembly and President’s Rule,” he said.

Big Blow For Modi-led BJP Govt, As Supreme Court Says Submit Details of Rafale Pricing, Ambani Selection Procedure

New Delhi: The highest court in the country, the Supreme Court came down heavily on the Narendra Modi-led BJP government when it asked the latter to submit complete details of the Rafale Jet fighter deal, including pricing, procedure for selection of Anil Ambani’s firm Reliance Defence and the reasons why other Indian companies, particularly the PSU HAL were not given the same kind of ‘special treatment’ that was accorded to Anil Ambani.

According to an NDTV report, hearing petitions questioning the Rafale jet deal, the Supreme Court today asked the government to submit details of pricing and the selection of Anil Ambani’s defence firm as India offset partner.

The government refused to do so claiming that the information is classified, after which the court asked for a written submission in the form of an affidavit, within 10 days that these details cannot be shared.The SC will pass further orders based on the affidavit submitted by the government and can even compel the government to make it’s paper-work public – at least in a sealed cover before the court.

In the last hearing, the court had asked for details of the decision-making process that led to the deal but had emphasized that it would not get into “pricing or suitability” of the jets.

But today, the court said, “We would like the details of pricing and cost to be submitted to the Supreme Court in a sealed cover. This may be submitted in the next 10 days.”

The government argued that pricing was not revealed in Parliament and the earlier government had also not disclosed details of a previous deal. Say it in an affidavit, Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi told the government’s lawyer.

The court is hearing petitions, including those filed by former ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie and senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan questioning the jet deal between India and France and the choice of Anil Ambani’s inexperienced Reliance Defence as India partner for Rafale maker Dassault.

Mr Shourie called the court’s order a “very, very substantial step forward” in the controversy. “Confidentiality does not relate to price, only technical specifications. It will be subject to challenge. It will be difficult to say pricing is confidential,” Mr Shourie told NDTV.

Beginning the hearing, the judges noted that the “suitability of the jet and its utility” has not been questioned. “What had been questioned is the bonafide of the decision-making and price,” they said.

Petitions before the court call for an investigation into the Rs. 59,000 crore deal for 36 fighters from Dassault, announced in 2016 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks in Paris with then French president Francois Hollande.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi has led the opposition charge against the Rafale deal, repeatedly accusing the government of negotiating a not-so-favourable contract just to benefit Anil Ambani. Both the government and the industrialist have denied the charge.

The political row escalated sharply after Francois Hollande said in an interview last month that France had no role in the selection of Anil Ambani’s company as India partner.

The previous Congress-led UPA government had negotiated with Dassault for 126 Rafale jets under which 18 jets were to be supplied in a fly-away condition and 108 were to be manufactured in India along with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). However, the UPA could not seal the deal.

In the deal negotiated by the new government, Anil Ambani’s firm became Dassault’s offset partner with no experience in the field. As part of the offset clause, Dassault has to ensure that business worth at least half the money – Rs. 30,000 – is generated in India.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) that Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa says can be a “game-changer” and booster for India’s defence.

Source: NDTV

Yes, Manohar Parrikar has cancer but he is improving, says Goa BJP State President Vinay Tendulkar

Admitting that Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is suffering from pancreatic cancer, Goa State BJP chief Vinay Tendulkar reiterated that the CM is recovering and there is no need for him to step down.

“The Health Minister has announced that Parrikar has cancer and I am not denying that but the fact is he is improving,” Tendulkar said.

A few days ago he had stated that CM would start work in November, but now said that CM will begin work from Tuesday. “Tomorrow (Tuesday), I am told, he is chairing IPB meet and cabinet the day after, so that means he is improving,” Tendulkar stated.

When suggested that shouldn’t CM be given rest to recover from the serious ailment, Tendulkar said, “It is for him and family to decide. But he is improving and I don’t think he should step aside.”

On why the party was hiding facts of the illness, he replied, “We never lied. We always said it was a pancreatic ailment and we did not want to get into specifics and I am not well versed with medical terms.”

Source: Herald

Goa Congress says Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar no more?

PANAJI: According to an IANS report, Congress on Monday said that ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has not been seen in public since October 14, may be no more, drawing a sharp rebuttal from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“Yes, we are taking that call. It is an extreme call that the honourable Chief Minister may not be there at all,” Congress spokesperson Jitendra Deshprabhu told the media here.

Parrikar has not had a single public appearance since his return from Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 14 and is currently bedridden at his private residence, which party sources said has been converted into a sophisticated medical facility, with doctors and para-medical staff on 24-hour duty.

The Congress alleged that a coterie of officials around the Chief Minister was “illegally” taking decisions in his “absence”.

The BJP called the statement a result of Congress “frustration” and accused the party of lowering the political discourse.

On October 27, soon after Health Minister Vishwajit Rane for the first time officially revealed that Parrikar was suffering from pancreatic cancer, the Chief Minister’s Office said that Parrikar was expected to hold a cabinet meeting on Wednesday at his private residence.

Deshprabhu told reporters that the BJP and the BJP-led coalition should prove to the people of Goa that Parrikar was alive.

The Congress leader also accused the media of trying to play down the severity of Parrikar’s ailment.

Goa BJP General Secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavade said that “Deshprabhu must be frustrated if he is making statements like this”.

Source: IANS