MLAs could raise issue in the House during zero hour or through calling attention motion; Congress, GFP not ready to end debate
PANJIM: MLAs, cutting across party lines, hope that the ensuing Budget session of the Legislative Assembly will see a discussion on the installation of a statue of Dr Jack de Sequeira in the Assembly complex, despite the Speaker having set aside the resolutions in the first round.
If private members’ resolutions moved by Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo, Congress and NCP’s Churchill Alemao are not taken up, MLAs feel there could be other ways, like a zero hour mention, calling attention motion, etc to grab the attention of the House towards the issue that has turned very contentious.
The MLAs unanimously maintain that the Speaker’s decision is final, but also point out that no official announcement has yet been made. “Without the Speaker’s permission, no discussion can be held in the House. Speaker’s power is absolute and any decision by him is final and binding,” Urban Development Minister and BJP (Mapusa) MLA Francis D’Souza said, speaking to Herald. He was supported by Panchayat Minister Mauvin Godinho who asserted that the Speaker’s decision cannot be challenged.
The MLAs, however, believe that the ongoing debate could find an echo in the House considering that the Opposition parties have moved separate resolutions. “There could be a question, a boycott or a walkout. It all depends on the private members who have moved the resolution. There is also the possibility that the resolution be placed for any of the remaining private members’ day (Friday),” D’Souza commented.
Godinho on the other hand feels that the Opposition could rake up the issue and said, “It (resolution) can still figure in the Assembly through other ways like Zero Hour. The Opposition party could do that.”
Goa Forward Party (GFP), an alliance partner, was the first to raise the demand for Dr Sequeira’s statue in the Assembly complex and insists that the demand come to a logical conclusion. GFP president and Town & Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai said the party will convince all MLAs to support the demand for a statue of the Father of Opinion Poll in the Assembly complex. “It is within his (Speaker’s) power to decide about the resolutions. But my efforts to create a consensus will not stop. My endeavour is not only to have a discussion or pass a resolution but to also see that there is complete unanimity among one and all. My party is in the process of convincing everyone because we want a statue,” he told Herald, adding that GFP will ensure that the Opinion Poll and all the leaders, including Sequeira who played major role in maintaining Goa’s identity, are recognised.
The party, which has three ministers in the coalition government had on Asmitai Dis – January 16 – threatened to quit the government if the demand is not fulfilled.
BJP’s Alina Saldanha who had spoken in favour of the installation of the statue in the Assembly complex said she stands by her party. “I am a party person and go by the party rule. However, I hope sooner or later this issue will be addressed in the right manner,” she said.
The BJP, at its core committee meeting on January 22 had resolved that no more statues other than the existing one of Goa’s first chief minister Dayanand Bandodkar will be allowed in the Assembly complex. Some Catholic MLAs had initially expressed disappointment but supported the resolution. Notwithstanding this, Lobo thereafter moved a resolution for Sequeira’s statue in the complex. He was followed by Benaulim MLA Alemao and then the Congress.
Amidst the political drama, Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar denied any political colour to the issue, however, he is adamant that the party will not allow the issue to die. “Let the Assembly Session begin. On private members’ day, we (Congress) will ask the Speaker on what grounds was our resolution set aside and urge to allow it to be tabled in the further weeks of the session. This is not a political issue, the CLP resolution stands,” he told Herald.