By Aishwarya Mukhopadhyay
When the 16-hour overnight ordeal of convincing the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) ended, Manohar Parrikar became the Chief Minister of Goa for the fourth time on 14th March 2017. Defeated in the polls, second only to the Congress, the post-polls alliance bailed the BJP out of their predicament and continued their influence over the state. But Parrikar now faces the difficult position of balancing the needs of the BJP and its allies.
Having completed 100 days, the Chief Minister seems to have achieved a semblance of this balance as a lot of his policies are inspired from those of his allies. Though many of his policies have been hailed by his critics as “non-starters”, the government boasts of a “more mature” CM whose “pro-people” attitude and open-mindedness have been heartily welcomed by the public.
The litmus test — Goa’s budget
Parrikar’s budget sought to project an 11% growth and increased investment in the development of modern infrastructure. The Budget has been praised for not raising taxes or levying new ones. Only the price of petrol has increased to generate revenue for the state. This becomes critical for there has been a steady decrease in the revenue flow from the tourism industry.
The financial situation is worrying, and Parrikar faces the huge challenge of balancing between social and infrastructural development. The state is banking on the Centre’s support and is focussing on resolving old problems like slum rehabilitation.
A Common Minimum Programme (CMP) for Goans
A large part of Parrikar’s post-poll talk has also been about preserving “Goenkarponn “(Goa, Goans and Goan identity) and to bring in all-round development. The Common Minimum Programme (CMP) is the product of this vision. It focuses on the development of the people of Goa, especially the farmers and the rural poor.
CMP proposes to create local farmer’s markets along the highway so that they can sell their products more easily. Emphasis will be given to skill training and value education of the rural inhabitants, and there will be renewed focus on social welfare. It plans on making Goa more investment-friendly and proposes to provide incentives to companies which provide more than 80% employment to locals. Affordable housing is also on the agenda. A better network of water and sewage systems has been promised and the coconut palm is set to become the state tree.
The casino conundrum
The CMP also speaks of casinos, which has been a source of much debate. There has been much discontent among Goans about the offshore casinos, parked at the Mandovi river—a popular site for tourists and gamblers alike. The location of the casinos is such that it is hampering the catch of fishermen, who can now procure only one-third of their full capacity. A recent report of the Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) revealed that the Mandovi river has become unsafe for use because of illicit dumping from the ships.
Parrikar has always been a strong critic of the offshore casinos and had proposed to shift their position to the deeper seas—a move which was not practical, given most of the ships are quite fragile. Moreover, the CMP disappointed the people by failing to give the issue a coherent structure and direction. The government had assured the casinos that it would be looking for a better location in the sea but has failed to do so. As the extension granted to offshore casinos has come to an end, the government has failed to look for better locations in the sea, leaving the matter hanging.
Dealing with the “garbage crisis”
Parrikar has taken a keen interest in making Goa “garbage-free by 2022”. Waste management has always been a problem in Goa and the most popular methods of disposal are incineration and dumping. The Sansoddo dump, merely 5km from Margao city, Goa, holds one lakh tonnes of waste spread over 1.65 lakh square feet. There has been a talk of bringing in a scientific garbage management system by Parrikar for efficient waste management.
While the Sansoddo cleanup was mired in controversy last year, especially due to the resignation of environmentalist Claude Alvares, Parrikar’s sustained efforts this time have left even his worst critics stumped. Being a metallurgical engineer from IIT Bombay himself, Parrikar seems to have taken it upon himself to relieve Goa from this “garbage crisis”.
Vijai Sardesai, a minister belonging to coalition partner GFP also seems to have played a key role in the ban on plastics—from July 1st selling or carrying plastic bags will invite a fine of Rs 5000, and littering public places would invite a fine of Rs 10,000. This indicates the good relations between the BJP and the GFP, as the two parties seem to be working peacefully in this coalition towards “pro-people” policies.
Managing party politics and alliance
Goa’s objection to cattle slaughter was a surprise move, although the Congress may have accused Parrikar of appeasing his allies. Parrikar did not make any statement. GFP’s Sardesai said that the CM would write to the Centre protesting against it since a cattle ban would reduce many to poverty and place the hospitality industry in a difficult position. Also, beef is a part of the Goan culture and the Centre’s imposition of this ban would be detrimental to Goa.
This shows how the alliance is still rocky and not yet in consensus on all issues. Though 100 days is not enough to judge a regime, it often sets the tone for the upcoming days.
Featured Image Source: Visual Hunt
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