Herald: The not so very long session

The not so very long session

16 Dec 2018 06:33am IST
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16 Dec 2018 06:33am IST
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The CM had promised last year to extend the business of the State Legislative Assembly to more than 40-45 days but his illness ensured it was reduced to just 16 days. VIBHA VERMA spoke to politicians across the political landscape to gauge their reaction to the rather sad state of affairs

xactly a year ago on his 62nd birthday, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar resolved to extend the business of the State Legislative Assembly to more than 40-45 days every year. 

“My resolution is that the House should run for a longer period. From the next Budget session, the House should run for a minimum of 40-45 days for a year. So next year, I will cross 40 days, because if a House functions for a long time, then those who ask several questions can then spread out and take more questions,” was his statement which was extensively covered by the media houses in Goa. 

Things took a turn when within two months of his resolution, the popular CM fell sick, just at the time when he was preparing to present the Budget for the year 2018-19 in March. He was referred to the Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai from Goa Medical College for pancreatic treatment but showed up, albeit for a short while, to present the Budget in the Goa Legislative Assembly. 

Owing to his illness, the month-long Budget session was shortened to four days with an assurance to hold discussion on the Budget in the next assembly session. The monsoon session was also curtailed to 12 days from July 19 to August 3, 2018. In all, the year saw only 16 working days of the Legislative Assembly. Moreover, the winter session has not been held so far and the Assembly is heading to a situation wherein maximum gap of six months between the two sessions will result in the dissolution of the House.

While ally partner like Goa Forward Party (GFP) is supportive of the government in view of the crisis that Goa is entangled into, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has vehemently opposed the curtailing of the session. The Congress as well as regional political outfit Aam Admi Party (AAP) too attacked the ruling coalition for making a mockery of democracy. 

GFP President and cabinet minister Vijai Sardesai has called it an extraordinary circumstance while recalling that Goa has had longest assembly sessions under CM Parrikar in the past. “The reduction in the number of dates of the assembly session is happening in Goa under CM Parrikar for the first time because this is an extraordinary circumstance which is evoking extra ordinary response from the government. It is happening on account of CM’s health which has to be considered as a mitigating circumstance,” Sardesai, who has stood by the CM through the thick and thin, told Herald.

The Fatorda legislators has emphasised the fact that CM has consistently been a protagonist of long sessions ‘which encourages legislative talent.’ “I am a product of such an opportunity. In the present case, the MLAs are perhaps being deprived of a chance but this situation will change in the future but the principle issue is how much the opposition party is contributing to healthy discourse for the benefit of the State and its people,” he commented. 

The other alliance partner MGP, on the other hand, has slammed the government for not electing a senior leader in the House to enable carrying out the proceedings of the House in a smooth manner. MGP President Dipak Dhavlikar has criticized the BJP for not allowing elaborate discussion on various issues. “You cannot curtail the session. Government should give a chance to discuss the problems on the floor of the House and get it resolved. If there is no CM present in the House, they should have nominated a leader which the government did not do,” he lamented. The party is now awaiting for the next session, else, Dhavlikar while indirectly warning the government said they will arrive at some decision.

The oldest regional party of Goa has been consistently demanding that CM should hand over his charge to any of his senior ministers till he recovers. However, the BJP is in no mood to change the leadership. It was not long ago the MGP had even set an ultimatum to give CM’s charge to senior minister Ramkrishna Dhavlikar in view of Parrikar’s illness. 

The Congress party that created much ruckus during the two assembly sessions coupled with high drama over the collapse of the administration outside the legislative assembly has claimed that the sessions were an eye-wash. “The Congress unlike the BJP, when in Opposition, always performs its role as a constructive Opposition party and has been gracious enough to extend co-operation with the government in all aspects and especially with regards to curtailing the Assembly Session in February as the CM is unwell. We wanted to corner the government but we believed in a humane approach and gave that concession on account of health of CM. The July/August session was again eyewash with time constraints. Being the Opposition we have not been given that opportunity to corner the government on floor of the House as the government is shying away from having a session of six weeks as there has to be sufficient opportunity to question the government on various issues concerning the failure of administration in Goa,” party President Girish Chodankar said.

“The government is trying hide it sins and wanting to curb the voice of the opposition on the floor of the house with the fear that they may totally exposed and corruption would be out in the open. BJP has made mockery of democracy just to retain the power at any cost as they don’t want us to uncover their misdeeds and expose their failures and corruption. The collapse of the administration, the law and order and the loss of faith of the people in this government stand tall and reflect throughout the State,” he further said. 

The Opposition slammed the alleged biased attitude of the Governor Mridula Sinha arguing that it was unfortunate that she has become mere stooge of the political brass apparently to reap all benefits of the gubernatorial office. 

Sardesai has hit out at the Congress over its claim of not being given the opportunity to hold proper discussion. “The Congress party’s legislative wing’s callous attitude to function as a proactive Opposition is well known. More than complaining, Congress should speak in one voice and coordinate among themselves for a healthy debate. It is undeniable that a proactive Opposition is essential for a healthy democracy,” the minister commented. 

Former Speaker Rajendra Arlekar has come in support of the minister as he condemned repeated attempts by the Congress to stall the proceedings of the House. “Congress had been only protesting and walking out of the House. They have attempted to stall the proceedings and it is their habit to do so,” he lamented.  

AAP has criticized both the ruling coalition and the Opposition for leading to such a situation. “We have said this time and again. The Government on the whole is ill. The opposition which should have beaten the drums louder has been silenced with threats of opening up of their ‘files’ and worse defections are happening at will. ‘No work no pay’ principle doesn’t apply to this set of politicians who don’t care. They must be happy that they are able to make hay through 16B, 37A or 37B amendments to play big time with land which they are happy, will not come for scrutiny or discussion in the house. People should by now realize that supremacy of the legislature has been compromised. The common man is bearing the brunt of it all,” AAP Convener Elvis Gomes said. 

Herald made repeated attempts to contact some senior BJP office bearers for a comment on this issue but they declined. While the party President Vinay Tendulkar, who is also Rajya Sabha MP is camped in Delhi; the party in Goa have been busy over the re-induction of Satish Dhond in the Goa BJP wing. 
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