Panjim votes three days from today for a new MLA. For the first time in 25 years the absence of Manohar Parrikar will be seen.
He has represented the constituency since 1994, always contesting on a BJP ticket, winning handsomely every time. He went on to become chief minister of the State, even Defence Minister in the Union cabinet, but the constituency that he represented did not see major changes in the positive manner.
What does the State capital need? The answer is quite simple – streets that are well tarred and traffic that flows and does not congest the city centre; a reasonable parking system that disallows double parking and creation of bottlenecks; regular water and power supply to the residents of the city and to the business establishments in it; a market that is hygienic and does not let out foul odour; a sewerage system that does not get clogged; a garbage collection system that works coupled with a disposal facility.
When this list is viewed, even cursorily, it becomes obvious that the city has seen no development in these areas. These are issues that should have been addressed decades ago, even before Parrikar came to represent the city. These were not done, and they still haven’t. What does that say about those who have represented this capital city?
As Goa stands at the bottom of the list of States in the open defecation free project, Panjim is one of the towns that is keeping it there as it is still not open defecation free. A shameful statistic, but one that cannot be ignored or even kept hidden. Yet, nobody wants to talk about it or address it. In a survey of cleanest cities in India, Panjim dropped from 155 to 337 in just one year. Ironically, Panjim in the previous year had bagged the Best State Capital Award for Innovation & Best Practices. Just look at how Panjim dropped: from 16 in 2016 to 90 in 2017 and 155 in 2018. The city is just not getting cleaner, it is getting dirtier compared to other cities in the country. Again, nothing to be proud of. This is evidence of the failure of the city’s elected representatives.
Panjim needs smartness where the basics are concerned. It should be a smart city that makes its residents proud of the infrastructure. The city needs first a mobility plan and a vision for the future. The vision for the city cannot be bridled by myopic thinking where projects are planned with short-term interests in mind. The smartness must be seen in the planning and in the execution. It does not need the smartness that has gone into the project development of the smart city project, as has been reported today on Herald.
This is an election that has developed tremendous interest and importance not just in the State, but even across the country. It has two former MLAs – Atanasio Monserrate of the Congress and Sidharth Kuncalienker of the Bharatiya Janata Party – for whom a loss could well mean an end to their political careers. They are both attempting a comeback to the State Assembly. In Subhash Velingkar of the Goa Suraksha Manch it has a former mentor of Parrikar seeking to introduce his brand of politics in the State. He is expected to do well, but anything short of victory could stem the future of his political party. There is also Valmiki Naik of the Aam Aadmi Party who is fighting to keep the party afloat.
Only one can win, the other three will possibly have to take a break from politics. Who will Panjim vote for? Will it vote for someone who can deliver on promises made, or will it vote for a new face?