With Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar back in Goa from the US after another trip for medical treatment, will the pointless speculation over politicians shifting loyalties end? In the past week, messages had been floating around on social media of politicians from either side of the divide raring to make the immediate jump, leading to the party heads calling media conferences to deny this, resulting in a waste of time and resources that could be put to better use. It is time that the government now returns to its business of governance and the opposition to playing its assigned role of keeping tabs on the government, without having to look over the shoulder and making sure that their flock is intact.
That, however, is a tall demand in this small State as Goa has a government that has been cobbled up by a party that did not get a majority and was not even the largest party post the 2017 Assembly elections. In a scenario where the stability of a government depends on various other parties, apprehensions of MLAs changing colours will always remain afloat, and this is definitely affecting governance in the State, even if there are some in the government who will deny this and attempt to assert that everything is fine. It cannot be forgotten that at least one minister has admitted that the absence of the Chief Minister does affect the administration.
The immediate task ahead for the Chief Minister, now that he has returned, is a cabinet reshuffle, where Ministers who are not in the best of health will have to be replaced, bringing into the cabinet those who will be able to work for the State. Goa has been without a full-time Power Minister since early June – three months already – since Pandurang Madkaikar suffered a stroke while in Mumbai and underwent a surgical procedure. With Minister Francis D’Souza also not in the best of health, and currently undergoing treatment in the US, here is another minister who may have to be replaced so that the cabinet begins to function normally and the load on the Chief Minister, who is himself not in the best of health and has been to the US thrice this year for treatment, is reduced.
The Chief Minister has an array of issues to be dealt with, many of which have remained pending during the past months. The State’s governance has been painfully limping ahead, as cabinet meetings have been just a few. How many cabinet meetings have been held since February this year? Has there been any meaningful discussion of the cabinet members on any of the pressing issues that are affecting the State? Since February a number of the cabinet decisions that have been taken, have been through circulation, a system that does not allow for discussion, but where a member of the cabinet appends his signature to a note that makes it a decision. A rearrangement of the portfolios and induction of new ministers is definitely called for, now that the head of the government is back in the State.
While that will take care of the political angle, the administration of the State also needs to be overseen. It requires that little push that the presence of the Chief Minister can give to get the wheels of bureaucracy moving without the creaking sounds of sluggishness and so speed up decision taking. Next week Goa will get into the festive mood, but after that it has to be business as usual for a government that will have to deliver on promises made.