Is Parrikar going soft on ruling Goa Congress? (News Analysis)

By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

PANAJI - Goa Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manohar Parrikar seems to share the predicament of party stalwart L.K. Advani when it comes to stopping short of landing a killer punch on the Congress.

Advani last week apologised and distanced himself from the claims of a party task force, which suggested that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had money stashed in foreign bank accounts.

The situation could seem somewhat familiar to the politically savvy in Goa where Parrikar, who heads the BJP’s good governance cell, has failed to pin the responsibility of the illegal mining scourge on Congress Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who is also the state’s minister for mines.

Parrikar, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) product, has instead vigorously accused a police inspector and other mines department officials for the plunder.

Parrikar’s fatal flaw is already being talked about openly by the party cadre who have blamed it on his obsession for the “politics of compromise”.

When BJP’s secretary in charge of the Goa desk Arti Mehra was asked - shortly after she took over the organizational position — to comment on why the party leaders in the state had failed to make the scam taint stick on local Congress leaders, she first said the issue would be looked into.

“I discussed it with my leaders here and they say the local media is not naming the ruling politicians in their reports even when our leaders are exposing scams,” she said during a subsequent interaction.

Very few people have been able to clinically dissect the scams in Goa’s mining sector better than Parrikar, who has proven that nearly 18 percent of the 40-million-tonne ore exported from the state was illegally extracted.

Instead of going for Kamat, the BJP leader has vigorously accused a police inspector and other mines department officials for the plunder.

Parrikar has also been reluctant to name Kamat (also the state’s finance minister), in a multi-million rupee excise scam, wherein consignments carrying millions of litres of alcohol have disappeared into thin air.

He, instead, chose to zero in on a state civil service officer and Excise Commissioner Sandip Jacques for the scam. Jacques is now posted as an officer on special duty to the chief minister.

Parrikar’s silence on a panel of municipal corporators backed by Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate is telling. While the BJP leader has voiced the alleged corrupt practices of the ruling corporators in the Corporation of the City of Panaji (CCP), he has rarely attempted to drag Monserrate into the controversy.

Once Parrikar abruptly wound up a press conference when reporters questioned him on Monserrate’s possible involvement in CCP-related scandals.

Monserrate has a chequered past, having been booked for arson, forgery (forging his educational qualifications) and assault.

A senior party functionary said the party cadre was largely flummoxed by the party’s “go slow” against several Congress legislators and minister, namely Kamat, Monserrate, Forest Minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.

“The cadre is confused. Parrikar’s inability to take on the battle to these ruling MLAs in their bastions, despite our repeated exposes in the ministries run by these people is sending wrong signals to our cadre,” said a senior BJP leader.

Could Parrikar be suffering from a condition similar to the “Stockholm Syndrome”? The three top leaders of the ruling coalition were once a part of a BJP-led coalition government in Goa. In fact, Kamat was until 2004 a BJP member and virtually the second-most powerful minister in the Parrikar-led cabinet. Does this make it difficult for Parrikar to take them on?

Parrikar had outrageously likened Advani to “rancid pickle” a couple of years ago. Venerated by a cross section of the educated elite of Goa as their articulate and cavalier political messiah, Parrikar’s recent inability to take the fight to the political opposition now, however, stands out conspicuously.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at

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