The process to draft a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) has finally begun with the Chief Minister chairing the first meeting to discuss the broad framework of issues.
The process to draft a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) has finally begun with the Chief Minister chairing the first meeting to discuss the broad framework of issues. The initial semantics and the optics have been positive, but it needs to reiterated that there are but only initial optics. In his first press conference after being sworn in on March 14, Mr Parrikar said “We will give you a Common Minimum Programme within a month. One will be on policy matters and one will be on financial matters,” he stated. Give or take a week, the CMP should have been announced by now. Neither the policy one nor the financial one has made an appearance.
The exercise is likely to prolong over several meetings with several contentious issues to be discussed. So will the government carry on its functioning in areas outside of the contentious CMP issues, while working on the CMP on the side? If so, is that the best way for a coalition of parties and individuals fiercely opposed to each other in the past, to function?
The irony is that it boils down the comfort factor that the allies have with the BJP, on issues they have battled the BJP. And this comfort will matter more than public perception. So the CMP may well boil down to an issue of perception management, specially by the GF , the MGP and the Independents.
Currently, the easily dealt with and comfortable areas of agreement have being ticked off. Mr Parrikar was actually surprised about the amendment to the Tree Act, done when Laxmikant Parsekar was the Chief Minister, which led to the assumption that the tree would now be “grass”. The backlash against the move, revolved around this assumed categorisation. Hence, a decision has been taken to retract that decision, on which there is unanimity. But it was important to do it and move on since the prestige of the Goa Forward Party was linked to this. The opposition was mainly led by Goa Forward which upped the ante, stating that the coconut tree had been relegated to the category of a grass.
The more significant take away of the first CMP meeting was the announcement of completely reviewing the rules and regulations of the Investment Promotion Board, whose decisions have been controversy ridden. While this is an indictment of the Mr Parrikar’s predecessor Mr Parsekar, it is no secret that the current Chief Minister had reservations about the manner in which the IPB mandate was being handled after he moved to Delhi. Of course, the IPB was Mr Parrikar’s brainchild and he wants to take back charge, perhaps through his trusted industrialist associates.
Thus on the coconut tree classification and the IPB, Mr Parrikar wanted to course correct. The big ask is if and by when will there be a commonality on the issue of shifting of casinos, or a proper notification on grants for English medium schools or even perhaps a consensus on by when the Regional Plan kept on hold, be made active again with changes. That itself will need a re-notification.
On emotive issues like the nationalisation of rivers, the Goa Forward seems to have accepted the Chief Minister's stand that the ownership of Goa’s rivers will remain with the state. But we cannot leave it at that. This needs more clarity. In February, the Goa Forward Party had demanded that the Chief Minister make public the details of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the Inland Waterways Authority of India, Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) and the state government. The GFP had also demanded that all stakeholders be taken into confidence and transparent mechanism be put in place to explain the impact of river nationalisation. Will the GFP insist on all these in the CMP?
More importantly, the CMP will have to lay down the government’s key priority areas and a time frame and road map to fulfil specific objectives.
The CMP should be all about cutting down the noise and the surround noise and getting down to work on a mandate with timelines. But the first timeline of declaring the CMP in April is least likely to be met.