Tuesday 15 Jun 2021

Gaonkar formally pulls out from Sawant-led govt


The Opposition space in the 40-member Goa Legislative Assembly swelled by one to 10 on Thursday with Independent MLA of Sanguem Prasad Gaonkar breaking ranks. 

Gaonkar officially submitted a letter to the Governor saying he withdraws his support to the Pramod Sawant government. 

Gaonkar's ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government had been under severe strain for over a year. 

He had resigned from his position as chairman of the Goa Forest Development Corporation in late 2018, when Goa was gripped by a governance paralysis of sorts during the illness of the Late Manohar Parrikar. 

It got worse when Sawant began promoting his Sanguem rival Subhash Phaldesai, who was appointed Entertainment Society of Goa vice-chairman. 

The trigger for Gaonkar formally withdrawing support to the government on Thursday, however, were allegations levelled against him by Sawant that he was only manipulating land ownership in the process of finalising the site for the Goa campus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) when it was proposed to be located in his Sanguem constituency. 

The IIT campus has since been moved to Sattari. 

After snapping ties with the govenment, Gaonkar threw a challenge to probe his role. 

“If he feels I had done setting, he should conduct an enquiry into these so called dealings," Gaonkar said. 

He added that three locations were identified for the IIT project in Sanguem - - Cotarli, Rivona and Uguem. 

"The Rivona site was 100 per-cent owned by the government and was barren," he said, adding that it is outrageous that there can be any "setting" when ownership is with government. 

"How can one get commission on government land," he asked. 

Although Gaonkar's jumping aisles may not affect the government versus Opposition math in the House, the development does have a perceptional impact on State politics. 

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