We are in the midst of the much-awaited Monsoon Session of the Goa Legislative Assembly. After a long time, Goa is witnessing a long Assembly session.
In the 18-day session, nine days have already passed but what was being hyped as a big battle between the Ruling and Opposition on burning issues, we are left disappointed as it has turned out to be a damp squib with not even one healthy discussion on any issues.
In the nine days so far, the leaders (irrespective of political affiliations) have made charges, counter-charges and raised the issues. The Chief Minister and ministers have given assurances for some issues and that’s it. The Opposition MLAs went home and so has the CM and other mantris.
This isn’t new, this has been happening for years, the assurances are given on the floor of the House, only to be forgotten.
What happens to the assurances? Does the House or the Opposition maintain the list of assurances given by the mantris? No, there is no accountability.
Take, for example, Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant has gone back on his assurances on several issues. So if the CM does not follow the assurances what other ministers would do? Where is the Sanctity of the Temple of Democracy left?
Today, Goa is facing several issues, the Mhadei diversion issue, Tiger Reserve, Kala Academy Collapse, Mining resumption, Coal, Environment degradation, Unemployment, Casino culture, Dance bar culture, Toutes, Drugs, Prostitution, Influx of migrants, Special Status, Bad roads, TCP amendments etc but the Opposition MLAs are content with raising issues of their constituencies.
For example, AAP MLA Venzy Viegas raised the issue of drugs, he started his speech with “Weed is the New Need of Goan Youth”. That was a fantastic start and thereafter he also made some wild allegations like “Marijuana laced cakes” sold in Goa. This is where he lost it. There is no proper study, if indeed there was anything like this had come to his knowledge, why not expose the people, the bakery? If not the Assembly, where else would you raise the issue? Mr Venzy?
Remember, Venzy had raised a similar issue on the plastic rice, an allegation he hasn’t been able to substantiate.
His colleague Cruz Silva too has failed to live up to expectations.
Similar is the story of RGP MLA Viresh Borkar who raised the issue of drugs and Khazan land or illegal encroachment on Communicdade land but failed to get any assurance or take the issue to a logical conclusion.
The three Congress MLAs – Yuri ALemao, who is also Leader of Opposition, Adv Carlos Alvares Fereira and Altone D’Souza have raised important issues but have not been consistent and have failed to put the government on the mat.
Much was expected from Alemao, who is well-educated, and understands the subject well but we need to understand he is a first-time MLA and as such cannot expect him to lead like LoP, as we have seen in other leaders. He has the intent but needs some time to grow.
The only MLA from the Opposition Vijai Sardesai has lived up to the expectations of the people and somewhat has pushed the government on the back foot. But as they say, battles cannot be won alone and it has to be a collective team effort. This was evident in as lack of support from other MLAs on the Kala Academy issue, wherein Vijai had Govind Gaude on the mat.
Also, one thing the Opposition has to understand simply shouting to the top of your voice in the Assembly won’t help. It is like you are playing to the gallery. What lacks from them is proper study of the subject.
The Opposition in Goa, on the face of it shows it is united, are they united really is a million dollar question.
Every day, instead of showing a united face, the Goa Forward, the AAP, the Congress and so also RGP have been conducting individual press conferences. What message does this send? It is clear that there is no unanimity amongst opposition parties on issues.
Secondly, there is no denying that the Brute Majority of the BJP is on total display in the Assembly, as such, the Opposition finds itself powerless being 7-33.
Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant and other Ministers Vishwajit Rane, Rohan Khaunte, Mauvin Godinho, Sudin Dhavalikar, and Nilesh Cabral have now become seasoned campaigners and know the pulse of Opposition and deal with the Opposition MLAs accordingly.
The Opposition has no counter questions to the replies given by these ministers or simply there is no inclination to corner the government.
Take for example, the reply from Forest Minister Vishwajit Rane on Tiger Reserve. Did the Opposition have any counter questions to his outrage against the MLAs and the NGOs? No. Did they even ask the Minister why he does not want Tiger Reserve? No. Did they ask for an entire day’s discussion on Tiger Reserve? No. Did they ask debate on TCP amendments? No. This is simply because there is no study. Simply tweeting against Govt on social media is not going to suffice.
These MLAs need to go to the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary and see for themselves whether the people, Vishwajit talks about, do exist or not. Find out what issue they have and take their opinion.
With this kind of proceedings underway there are no healthy debates, they just seem like question-and-answer sessions.
More than the Opposition MLAs, it was the ruling MLA Michael Lobo who stole the show with his charges against the traffic police, Saligao plant, LED fishing, DSSSY pension and so on.
While the issues are being raised by the Opposition, they have failed miserably to take it to a logical conclusion.