As D-day arrived on January 22 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi overshadowed everyone and all else as the Ram Lalla idol was consecrated at the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, here in Goa too there was euphoria as people converged for rallies across the State and illuminated temples were scenes of religious and celebratory fervour.
Bhajans and kirtans rent the air as did chants of ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Prabhu Ramchandra ki jai’ and at several places, including the capital Panaji, children enacted scenes from the epic Ramayana.
In temples dedicated to Lord Ram across Goa, huge crowds were seen gathered throughout the day. There were live screenings of the consecration ceremony at Ayodhya at most of the major and often frequented temples too and sweets were distributed after the ceremony ended with temple committees organising in some cases ‘Mahaprasad’ for the devotees.
Amid all the euphoria, meanwhile, there were the political personalities, especially those from the ruling BJP stable, who did their stuff to get noticed. First in the run-up to the January 22 event, Goa's politicos hit the road running to get to temples in their localities and do some cleaning and saaf-safaai to emulate Modi ji.
Chief minister Pramod Sawant, himself, visited many temples across Goa on January 22 and also conducted a puja and called the occasion a “moment of civilisational resurgence and a civilisational renaissance."
Union minister of state Shripad Naik, the original 'kar sevak' who was among the handful of the RSS-BJP leaders who galvanised support for the Ram Janambhoomi movement in the early 1990s, also joined the celebration at several places in the State.
But in all the celebrations, there were two of Goa's best-known temple movement beacons who seemed to be missing from the action -- Subhash Velingkar, the former long-time head of the RSS in Goa and former MGP legislator from Sanvordem Mohan Amshekar. With his fallout with the saffron leadership a few years ago, the absence, though telling, of Velingkar is understandable. However, Amshekar, who with his firebrand oratory back in his heydays of the 1989-94 term in the Goa legislative assembly was clearly the torch-bearer of the Sangh in Goa then, had no reason to be left out of the spotlight, here in Goa.
Clearly, the Velngkar-Amshekar duo are saddled in the 'sulk boat', much as the original 'Loh Purush' L K Advani finds himself at the national stage, his public utterances paying obeisance to Modi, notwithstanding.
Babush back home
On Sunday came the news that Revenue Minister Atanasio 'Babush' Monserrate suffered a heart attack. This was just a day or two after the 'action man' walked through the streets of Panaji along with the Smart City CEO Sanjit Rodrigues and the team of engineers and workers from the Corporation of the City of Panaji to identify encroachments impeding the 'smart city' work. He directed the teams to clear all. Later, the Taleigao strongman, who represents the capital city, also visited temples to emulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi's temple-cleaning 'seva'. Did he possibly overexert himself?
Nonetheless, as Babush himself acknowledged, the efforts of Health Minister Vishwajit Rane and the doctors of the Goa Medical College, where an angioplasty was performed on him, guided him through the emergency phase. As they say, all's well that ends well, and the minister is back home and if sources close to him are to be believed, he is unlikely to be back in his usual 'action mode' very soon even as the crowds of his supporters continue to throng his office at his Taleigao residence daily.