Herald: It’s just not on

It’s just not on

16 Dec 2018 06:23am IST
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16 Dec 2018 06:23am IST

The recent instance of the Power Minister threatening to throw a social activist out of the state is just one of the many such instances of the BJP acting in an undemocratic manner.Nilesh Cabral, Power Minister and Prabhakar Timble, Political commentator presented their viewpoints to Andrea Fernandes on a very worrying trend

Does it suit the dignity and stature of an elected representative to threaten an activist pursuing preservation of Goa?

Nilesh Cabral: I have not said anything bad and there is nothing wrong in my statement. During the sequence of events that took place I asked a question the gathering to which they kept silent.  Hence, I said that if he tries to stop mining yet again I will be the first one to force him out of Goa. I asked the people ‘will you come’ and they all said yes. He has proved his point and shut down illegal mining but now he should let the legal mining to start. Why is he is not allowing this? India has a lot of corporations in the coal sector but see those states they are in loses. The Goan Corporation that are there in the other sector are also all in loses. He is playing with the people of Goa. 


HERALD:  Being the Curchorem MLA is it justified that you threaten Claude when it is the Supreme Court that has passed the strictures shutting down mining?

Cabral: Mining closed in 2012 and I didn’t speak about Claude Alvares, in 2015 when it restarted and stopped now in March 2018 also I didn’t make a statement. We were trying to solve the issues locally. Then Claude goes to the High Court and says that these committees are not working. When we working on something and almost finalizing to restart mining he goes and stops it. My question to the gathering there was that even if we succeed, change the act and the parliament approves it but yet this man goes again to stop it than what will do? The people quite to this question and hence I told the people that I will be the first one to remove and throw him out of this place. Ultimately mining has to start in Goa. We are elected members and are for the people, he may not be for the people. First of all he is not from Goa and just because he is staying here does not make him one. He has been driven away from his own state because he has a sadist mind.   

HERALD:  The BJP at the Centre has been systematically targeting only those NGOs that are taking up environmental and social issues while in the State it was not seen to be physically intimidating activists who have successfully challenged everything from illegal mining to illicit regional planning. Being the Power Minister's, do you think that your threat is the beginning of a sinister trend to cull any voice of protest in Goa?

Cabral:You are linking me to something that you should not link to. I love NGOs and others who tell me where I go wrong so I can correct myself. I am definitely not targeting any voice of protest in Goa. If I can share my number with the entire state of Goa to bring improvements in the system and to help people. Why will I not want people to tell me what is wrong with me so that I can correct myself or my government? I am not against an NGO but I am against this individual.
HERALD:  Does it suit the dignity and stature of an elected representative to threaten an activist pursuing preservation of Goa?
Prabhakar Timble: This threat is coming not just from an elected representative but a Cabinet Minister. It is totally unacceptable, undemocratic and smacks of authoritarianism. It needs to be condemned in strongest terms. Much earlier, immediately after the stoppage of mining, the CM of Goa had stated that govt would not be responsible for any attack on activists by those who are agitating for resumption of mining. Very senior politician who was also former CM of Goa had made uncharacteristic remarks on activists saying that they want Portuguese passports to work as toilet cleaners. 
Claude Alvares and Goa Foundation are doing their work of knocking judiciary because the government has failed to implement laws w.r.t. mining industry and violations are blatant. The government has the power of purse and legal experts. They can make and unmake laws. Why such abusive language and threats to activists? Why this talk of using extra-constitutional muscle power? Not a single MLA is demanding implementation of Supreme Court directives. This speaks volumes of the fallen dignity and stature of our elected representatives. 
HERALD:  Is the Curchorem MLA justified in threatening Claude when it is the Supreme Court that has passed the strictures shutting down mining?
Timble: Initially, mining was shut down by the CM of Goa. He wanted to hog credit knowing that Supreme Court would issue similar directions. The government also wanted that the power to restart by scribbling some conditions on paper should reside with it and not the Supreme Court. Everything backfired. Later, the government unprofessional approach and super haste in renewing 88 leases few hours before the amendment to MMDR Act exposed the arbitrary exercise of power. It is the government which has failed. It is open secret that the government had the best legal brains and a battery of lawyers both officially and unofficially at its back and call. As the current status stands, it is wrong to say that the Supreme Court has shut down mining. The Court has issued directions for restart and regulations thereof. The government, all MLA's and agitating mining dependents want that mining should start on terms and conditions as they dictate. 
HERALD:  The BJP at the Centre has been systematically targeting only those NGOs that are taking up environmental and social issues while in the State it was not seen to be physically intimidating activists who have successfully challenged everything from illegal mining to illicit regional planning. Is the Power Minister's threat the beginning of a sinister trend to cull any voice of protest in Goa?
Timble:Threats from Ministers, intimidating tactics of administration and character assassination by the social media brigade is common in any BJP ruled State against NGOs and activists. BJP politicians are very liberal in crediting activists as anti-national, anti-development and foreign agents. In Goa, they have invented new labels like pro-Portuguese and communal minorities. These designs should be consistently exposed and fought. Mining is an important industry of Goa  though no longer can be classified as backbone as development has brought alternatives and has the potential to harness more. This mining bone should not spur fight between Goans like dogs on street. Mining is also a legitimate economic activity. None including the Supreme Court can stop it as long as prevailing laws are followed. I do not think threats can cow down protests and activists. In fact, it reinforces the resolve and draws public ire. We need to guard the issue from taking a communal colour.

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