24 Jul 2022  |   06:05am IST


The just-concluded curtailed 10-day Assembly session has evoked a good response and fruitful discussion with greater participation from legislators across party lines. VITHALDAS HEGDE reviews the monsoon session

One of the common grouses of voters is that the elected legislators waste more time in resorting to verbal duel against each other rather than take up issues that are critical for the public. Many of the MPs and MLAs either remain absent during most of the time when the Assembly or Parliament session is on or when they are present, hardly pose any question to the government during the Question Hour.

The curtailed monsoon session of Goa Assembly just ended. Unlike in the past, nearly all the first-time legislators were vocal about various issues during the session, even as the main opposition - that saw division among its MLAs ahead of the session, seemed subdued.

Goa Forward Party (GFP) President and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai however did not let his people down as he became the lone voice of the people exposing alleged scam across several government departments.

Besides Vijai, seasoned MLAs Alex Sequeira, Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao and Mormugao MLA Sankalp Amonkar were always on their feet during their engaged in putting to notice government’s shortcomings on various issues. Yet some Members seemed to have lost their voice.   

Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar although new, chaired the session with grace, reminding legislators of their responsibilities and conduct. He maintained dignity of the House. Occasionally Speaker was found expressing his displeasure, especially when members continued to speak much exceeding the allotted time, but was gracious in extending the sitting House till late hours.

The Speaker gave opportunity to everyone during Question Hour and discussion on calling attention notices. He made his effort to accommodate everyone within the framework of rules.

Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and his cabinet colleagues also responded, ensuring that the government business was transacted with the sitting of the House being extended late nigh hours.    

The session also saw election of Mapusa MLA Joshua D’Souza as the Deputy Speaker who defeated Congress nominee Delilah Lobo.   

Because of the curtailed session many of the MLAs vented their anger at improper answers given to their LAQs where the government tried to dodge question. Several Members felt that the sitting of the House curtailed from 25 days to 10 days deprived them of their legitimate rights to raise so many other issues concerning the State in public interest of Goa and people but could not do so.

Some of the legislators were of the opinion that it was the bounder duty of the Speaker to continue the session after the conclusion of panchayat elections. However the government did not pay any heed to it thereby many burning issues could not be put forth for the government’s intervention.     

In absence of strong opposition, Sardesai exposed scams during discussion and voting on Demands for Grants for the current financial year such as renovation of Kala Academy building, electricity poles, Goa BroadBand Network, Resumption of Mining Activity, Electric Buses, App-based Taxi Service, Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) by National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management among others, armed with documents that he tabled on the floor of the House.  

“I would have preferred to spend more time giving such suggestions and give constructive opposition where every clause of every bill is scrutinised and debated, where every paisa in the budget is accounted for. But instead, I have to spend day and night reading these answers to LAQs (Legislative Assembly Questions) to find the facts behind the scams. I don't take pride in exposing these scams which are an embarrassment to our State scams. But I believe I owe it to the people of Goa to stand here and be the kind of opposition that people expect and deserve,” this is what Sardesai said on the last day of the curtailed session.

Two senior Congress MLAs Michael Lobo and Digambar Kamat, who have faced the wrath from their party over their alleged attempts to switch their sides and what party claimed that the duo have voluntarily given up party’s membership, did support cut-motions to Demands for Grants but with limited words. Lobo’s wife Siolim MLA Delilah Lobo did make sure she brought to the fore problems faced in her constituency along with the entire coastal stretch in the North Goa District.

Cuncolim MLA Yuri Alemao’s performance was not like that of a newcomer as he confidently presented all facts and figures in various subjects. Mandrem MLA Jit Arolkar, Quepem MLA Altone D’Costa, St Andre MLA Viresh Borkar, Aldona MLA Carlos Alvares Ferreira and Benaulim MLA Venzy Viegas also did not let their constituency people down. From treasury benches Poriem MLA Deviya Rane made her mark. These MLAs performed well and would have definitely topped   ratings if there was any performance report card for the MLAs.  

Perhaps for the first time maximum Government Bills mostly amendment bills were introduced, considered and passed by the House. Most of these bills were for decriminalisation of certain provision of the Acts as part of `Ease of Living’. The government by bringing amendment omitted provisions of imprisonment and enhanced fines for minor offences.

The House also passed Supplementary demands for Grants for the year 2022-2023 (First Batch) authorising the government to appropriate an amount of Rs 586.68 crore out of which Rs 55.83 crore were required to recoup the advance sanctioned through Contingency Fund.