Former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar announces plunge into electoral politics

Panaji, Nov 12 (IANS): In what could be a worrying sign for the Goa BJP, former state RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, an arch rival of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, on Sunday announced his plunge into electoral politics.

The announcement comes at a time when the the state BJP as well as the BJP-led coalition government in Goa are facing immense flak over the continuance of ailing Parrikar as Chief Minister despite being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer for the last nine months.

“I will be actively working for the Goa Suraksha Manch,” Velingkar told reporters in Panaji.

Asked if he would be contesting the upcoming by-polls in Goa’s Shiroda and Mandrem constituencies which have been necessitated due to resignations of Congress MLAs from both seats, Velingkar said the decision would be taken at “the appropriate time”.

He also said that considering the political chaos in the state, following Parrikar’s illness and comfortable numbers in the Assembly still eluding the BJP, the Goa Assembly would be dissolved and fresh polls would be announced in Goa along with Lok Sabha elections in 2019.

Velingkar, 66, has served as the state Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief for more than two decades and is considered responsible for the political grooming of the state BJP’s top leaders including Parrikar, Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik and former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.

He was sacked from the RSS in 2016 after he took on Parrikar, who Velingkar accused of backstabbing the principles of both the Sangh as well as BJP.

Velingkar later founded and mentored the Goa Suraksha Manch, a right-wing conservative political party which considers the BJP its key rival.

Source: IANS

How Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar benefited after defection?

Two weeks after Congress legislators Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar defected to the BJP, there are allegations on how the two benefited from their crossover, claims an India Today report.

Interacting with his supporters at Mandrem in north Goa on October 21, Sopte boasted that he had demanded a cabinet berth in lieu of the defection. He also claimed he’d be inducted as minister before November 15. Patting a Ganesha locket, the MLA swore he hadn’t taken any money from the BJP and only wanted “constituency issues to be resolved”.

Shirodkar, who represents Shiroda in south Goa, got himself into more trouble. Media reports claimed the state industries department had agreed to pay Vedanta Real Estate Developers, a firm the MLA and his brothers run, Rs 3,500 per square metre for 1,83,524 sq. m. of orchard land in Shiroda acquired in 2012 for an industrial township. This, reports stated, was way higher than the Rs 350 per sq. m. another land owner who had volunteered to give his land for the project had asked for as compensation. Vedanta was expected to rake in Rs 70 crore, of which Rs 6.5 crore had already been paid.

Shirodkar claimed the state government started paying in instalments only six years after acquiring the land, that too after he met Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar last year. “I could have earned big interest had I received the money in time,” the MLA said, claiming the compensation was “based on the latest land deal in the area”. The Congress has said it will challenge the land deal in court.

Amid all this, the defections caused trouble within the BJP.

Furious with Sopte’s induction, former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar questioned Parrikar’s strategy to form a government despite not having a majority in the assembly. Parsekar, who lost the poll to Sopte, declared he wouldn’t support his candidature as a BJP nominee in the upcoming bypoll in Mandrem.

Meanwhile, the Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), mentored by former RSS functionary Subhash Velingkar, sees the dissent within the BJP as an opportunity to enter the assembly. Believed to have earned respect as a teacher in Mandrem, Velingkar is likely to be fielded by the party in the bypoll. Political analysts believe the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), though a coalition partner of the BJP, is upset with its refusal to make Sudin Dhavalikar the chief minister during Parrikar’s illness, and is also likely to support the GSM in a tacit understanding.

Meanwhile, the BJP is considering health minister Vishwajit Rane, assembly speaker Pramod Sawant and state president Vinay Tendulkar as possible successors to Parrikar. Sawant called on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on October 22 to make a pitch for himself. And Rane is keen on poaching more MLAs from his former party, the Congress, who can vouch for him.

Source: India Today

More Trouble for Goa BJP as RSS Rebel Subhash Velingkar Wipes out Shakas, Vows to Bring BJP Party Down

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.

Source: The Wire

“Power-Hungry BJP Leadership Not Allowing Manohar Parrikar Rest”: Ex-RSS Leader And GSM Head Subhash Velingkar

PANJIM, GOA: As BJP’s oldest ally in Goa, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, stepped up pressure for a “temporary replacement” for Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar till he recovers, former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar, on Wednesday, said that the Chief Minister’s sickness is taking a turn for the worse as “unwarranted pressure” is being put on him by the central BJP leaders to resume office.

“Unfortunately, the BJP high command is putting unnecessary pressure on him, when he clearly needs more rest to be completely fit. The Centre, by hook or crook, wants Goa to remain a BJP stronghold and hence forcing him to resume office. This is worsening his current health condition,” Mr Velingkar told reporters in Panjim.

“The Centre should have got a substitute chief minister as long as Manohar Parrikar is not getting well… I don’t think this Goa government will survive if things go on like this. It will be dissolved soon,” said the former state Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief.

The Goa BJP chief, Vinay Tendulkar dismissed Mr Velingkar’s comments. He said, the party high command is not forcing Parrikar to continue in the chair. “His health condition is improving now and he will resume office in November,” said Mr Tendulkar.

The former state RSS chief also hit out at the BJP, saying the party was “no more a party of ideology”. “The elected representatives don’t have anything to do with the party’s ideology. They have imported leaders from other parties. The loyal cadre is disturbed. In the next election, the BJP will be completely wiped out from the state,” he claimed.

Dismissing Mr Velingkar’s claims on ideology, Mr Tendulkar said, “Whosoever is in the party is because he or she believes in our ideology.”

Mr Parrikar returned to Goa on October 15, after he was discharged from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, where was undergoing treatment for over a month, for a pancreatic ailment.

The MGP chief, Dipak Dhavalikar, yesterday said that the people of Goa are suffering as the state administration had collapsed due to the long absence of the Chief Minister from his office. “Since Mr Parrikar is recuperating at home, he should hand over the charge to any of the senior ministers till he recovers,” Mr Dhavalikar told news agency PTI.

“Every day, we have to pacify people who come to our doorstep complaining that the state administration has collapsed. What shall we tell them?” Mr Dhavalikar said.

The MGP chief’s statement comes even as Goa BJP chief Vinay Tendulkar maintained that there will be no change in leadership in the state.

Citing the Chief Minister’s ill-health, the Congress party has been demanding that they be allowed to form the government in Goa.

On September 17, the Congress, along with 14 legislators in the 40-member state assembly, submitted a letter to Governor Mridula Sinha, urging her to invite them to form the government.

Even as the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party, in the fractured verdict in Assembly elections in March 2017, two lawmakers last week had resigned from the party, reducing its strength from 16 to 14 in the 40-member House.

The Manohar Parrikar-led government has the support of 23 lawmakers in the Assembly, 14 of the BJP, three each from the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the MGP and three Independent legislators.