Panjim heads to a by-election in the same calendar year in which it voted in a general election, within six months of having voted for a new MLA.
Panjim heads to a by-election in the same calendar year in which it voted in a general election, within six months of having voted for a new MLA. This is the second by-election in the constituency in two years, the previous one having been held in February 2015, four months after the then Panjim MLA Manohar Parrikar had resigned his membership of the Assembly to enter the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh so as to hold the position of Union Defence Minister. The by-election now due, is because Parrikar has returned as Chief Minister of Goa, having resigned as Defence Minister, and needs to be a member of the Legislative Assembly once again. He has, however, not given up his membership of the Rajya Sabha, and may continue to hold it until July, till after the election to the post of the President of India.
Parrikar returns to contest the seat he has won five times earlier, having chosen his traditional constituency over a choice of others that included Curchorem, where the BJP candidate had won by a record margin of over 9000 votes. There was some speculation that the Chief Minister might have not opted for Panjim this time, as Sidharth Kuncalineker had managed to win it by a reduced margin of less than 2000 votes, but local party workers, had prevailed upon Parrikar to make his return to the Assembly from Panjim, and Panjim only, and the party decided that he would contest from the constituency that has voted for him in the past.
As he returns to his old constituency, Parrikar will also have to deal with the same old issues that have been haunting the State Capital for the past few years, and that have somehow eluded a solution. Not just he, but the other candidates who will enter the fray will also have to spell out their vision for Panjim and the problems that are festering in the city.
A major issue that every aspirant to the membership of the Legislative Assembly has been promising to tackle is the garbage management. Though the municipal corporation collects garbage from doorsteps daily, there are still mounds of it visible at random street corners, making the Capital City unsightly to its residents and its visitors. Added to this is the St Inez creek that continues to flow into the River Mandovi, taking along with its greenish waters, garbage of all sorts that then empties into the River, not far from the areas in the river where some of the most luxurious of offshore casino vessels are anchored.
And the re-location of the offshore casino vessels will be another issue for the next MLA to deal with. With the government periodically extending the period for their relocation, can any candidate to the Panjim seat promise to sail the offshore casinos out of Panjim? The government is yet to indentify an alternative spot for the casinos and once that is done will have to develop the necessary onshore infrastructure, as that is a condition put by the casino industry for their relocation. Which MLA, or aspirant, can promise to take up the issue seriously and see that the casinos are indeed shifted from Panjim? Their presence on the river leads to a parking and traffic nightmare in Panjim on the streets around the boarding points to the casinos. The casino staff, visitors and service providers occupy long stretches of the streets to park their vehicles leading to congestion. And of course, there is the water and power supply issues that plague the city that need to the resolved.
The new Panjim MLA will have his hands full with what may appear to be minor issues, but dealing with them would improve the quotidian life of the resident of Panjim and the voter, and that is what is important.