In the first flush of victory and thanking the electorate for the votes, Goa’s two MPs elect have voiced their plans for the five-year term ahead.
North Goa MP elect, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Shripad Naik, who has won for the fifth consecutive term, acknowledged the ‘faith’ that the people reposed in the party, and hoped for a cabinet berth at the Centre. Naik has been Minister of State in the Union ministry, and in the last term had been handed independent charge of the AYUSH ministry. South Goa Congress MP-elect Francisco Sardinha, as he stepped out of the counting hall, raised the issue of bullfights that have been banned, and said he will bring it up at the right forum with a private member’s bill in Parliament.
While a Union cabinet berth for Goa will make the State proud, and bull fights or dhirios has a following in select areas of the State, there are various other issues that are crying out for attention and that the new Members of Parliament from the State will have to address in New Delhi. Both are eperienced parliamentarians. Naik has been a Union minister and Sardinha has decades of legislative experience too, having been even chief minister of the State. The two combined can pose a formidable team from Goa, should they choose to set aside party differences and join forces on select issues that affect the State, and do not politically divide.
It is interesting to recall that Sardinha started his campaign from a troubled spot, the areas where the coal pollution was at its highest, assuring to take up the issue. Another issue he had touched upon during the campaign was the nationalisation of rivers – the sagar mala project of the Centre – that has not met with favour with a large section of the Goans. In a manner of reaching out to the people, the Congress North Goa candidate had started his campaign from another troubled spot – the River Mandovi – seeking the blessings of the Mhadei in his quest for a seat in Parliament. These have to be now taken up.
The issues before the newly elected parliamentarians are many. Coal pollution and the sagar mala are two that are burning in the State, but there is the new Coastal Regulation Zone notification that the fishing community, not just in Goa but along the entire coast, has raised several objections to; there is also the highway widening that is affecting houses along the road, and not to forget the resumption of mining activities in the State. The last is where the MPs will have to work together, if there is a solution to be found to the impasse. The past Lok Sabha had two BJP MPs and yet this issue remained unaddressed, despite the mining dependents taking their grievance to New Delhi and protesting in the Capital. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has admitted that the mining imbroglio could have partially affected the party prospects in the South Goa constituency, where they lost.
Goa expects its two new MPs to be the voices of the State in Parliament. It is not enough for the MPs to, at the end of their term, show that they have spent the local area development fund on projects in the constituencies. It is the issues they raise in Parliament and the solutions that are found to these that also matter. Projects arising out of the MPLADs are no doubt important as these connect the parliamentarian with the constituents, but being the voice in Parliament is also necessary and that is what the MP has been elected to do. Solutions have to be found to the many issues plaguing Goa.