Thursday 28 Sep 2023

Yearning for a cabinet berth, Arlekar style

Ashley do Rosario with inputs from Warren Menezes | MAY 19, 2023, 12:37 AM IST

A reshuffle of the Pramod Sawant cabinet has been looming over Goa's power politics ever since the mass defection of eight of the 11 Congress MLAs to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) happened in September last year. In other times, it would have triggered a race among the non-minister members of the legislative assembly from the treasury benches to lobby for a berth. After all, who doesn't want to be a minister?

Yet, the yearning for a ministerial berth among the ruling party's legislators had remained concealed in Goa all these months. Not anymore. 

On Wednesday, this yearning for a cabinet berth among MLAs got exposed in the case of at least one among them -- Pravin Arlekar, the legislator from the reserved Pernem constituency.

Arlekar fell prey to the machinations of a wily and politically abreast conman from Gujarat who posed as an agent of BJP national president, J P Nadda, and negotiated a deal for induction as a minister in Sawant's cabinet in exchange for cash in lakhs of rupees.

The conman,  Neeraj Singh Rathod from Morbi in Gujarat's Ahmedabad district is behind bars and under investigation of the Nagpur police because a similar con he weaved around four MLAs of Maharashtra, where again a cabinet rejig is very much on the cards, went all awry.

Whether Arlekar and his four counterparts from the BJP in Maharashtra actually parted with pots of money is a question which the Nagpur police are still probing and are yet to throw any light on. But several reports in the media at Nagpur suggest that some of them have indeed parted with pots of money, blinded by their lust for power and a place in the council of ministers. Arlekar is unlikely to be an exception.


Much ado over nothing?

Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP) ex-Mayor Uday Madkaikar, a former acolyte of Revenue Minister Atanasio Monserrate but who had a highly publicised falling out with him last year, came up with a video which he alleges exposes a 'scam' in the daily 'sopo collection' ecosystem of the Panaji market. 

Madkaikar alleges that the personnel physically collecting the daily rent from the market vendors and the fish mongers, collect the cash but do not issue any receipts, thus making the process unaccountable. 

It now has been revealed, by none other than the CCP Commissioner Clen Madeira, that this system of sopo collection has been in practice for as long as 10-15 years, including the two terms Madkaikar himself presided over as mayor. 

What, however, seems to have been long ignored in the buried-in-corruption politics of the CCP linked to the Panaji market, is the much much larger scam in the allocation and occupation of the permanent shops and stalls in the phase-I and phase-II of the capital's market.

Every occupant of these permanent shops which are over 500 in number, pay up to Rs 10,000 as rents monthly but CCP gets zilch. Who pockets it is a million dollar question.

The Panjim market scam related to the allocation of shops to old and new trader-tenants is a 15-year-old story which multiple chief ministers and urban development ministers have probed but failed to act. Madkaikar himself was in the thick of CCP's power cabal when the scam played out. 

Madeira would do well to set the rogues to catch the rogue and unravel the Panaji market scam mystery, once for all.


DMA's 'hurried' stay on Mapusa's 

anti-encroachment drive

Just when the Mapusa Municipal Council's anti-encroachment drive was gaining steam and the common man was lapping up the civic body's proactive action a certain Rane decided to play spoil sport.

Former MGP man, Adv Mahesh Rane petitioned the DMA claiming that the drive was being conducted without following proper procedure as the authorities failed to carry out an inventory of the goods that were being lifted from the footpath and therefore was illegal.

Surprisingly, the DMA passed an ex-parte order staying the drive all in a day's work.

While none of the affected parties had complained, the petitioner claimed that he took the initiative in the interest of fair play.

The point is, if nobody complained what was the hurry to take up the matter and that too pass a quasi-judicial order with the Chief Officer and the MMC, entirely out of the loop? 

Dal mein kuch kala hai?


Stand-up politicians' latest

playbook guarantees a laugh 

The Congress' pitch of five guarantees in the Karnataka election was seemingly quite a successful one. The model has also been used, with consistent success by the Aam Aadmi Party earlier in Delhi and in 2022 elections in Punjab, although not that successfully in Goa.

However, these 'guarantees' could soon become just another page from the Stand-up Statesman playbook. For the audience the word ''guarantee'' is just another fancy cousin of ''promise'' and ''assurance'' and holds little or no weight at all in the context of an election. 

Believing in a politician's promise, has often turned out to be like watching a stand-up comedy show, as the public pledges made by several of them, promising not to defect after being elected here in Goa, did. Except that the joke, is not on the politicians, but on us, the audience, the electorate!


72 hours 'power-packed' 

magic in Calangute 

The villagers of Calangute were in for a pleasant surprise when the Chief Electrical Engineer promised to resolve the extremely sensitive power scenario in the beach village within 72 hours.

For almost a decade, Calangutkars have been facing acute power cuts especially in the summer season. Years have rolled by but none of the officials or politicians have found any solution to the issue. 

So when the CEE decided to resolve the problem within 72 hours, everyone was taken aback. Was it some sort of joke by the top officer in the department?

Well, CEE Stephen Fernandes is said to be a no-nonsense officer who knows his job well.  And apparently he must have made the promise only after studying the issue thoroughly.

As a toast to the 72 hours deadline, the officer also told the Calangutkars that next time he will visit the panchayat office to listen to the people's views.

The 72-hour deadline ended on Thursday. Everyone is waiting to see if the magic happens. We too, and we hope our readers will as well, until next week when we report on it in this space.

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