President's Rule & Elections Imminent in Goa

By Prabhakar Timble
21 April 2018 10:21 IST

After the unofficial and unsanctioned exit of Manohar Parrikar from the chair of the chief minister of Goa State (though officially he decorates the office), it’s a subject of debate whether the current dispensation of a three-ministerial conglomerate as a replacement for the chief ministerial rights, powers, privileges and duties  is constitutionally tenable. The second is the enigma surrounding the elusive hospitalization of the chief minister in USA with not a single medical bulletin providing valid and tangible information for over sixty days.

There was a hullabaloo from BJP political brigade of the right to privacy of an individual when the first ripples of sickness of the chief minister brushed the people of Goa. But, right to privacy is not the right to hide from public vital information of public men.  The BJP has disregarded this due to the shortcomings in working out alternatives and the current power equations engulfing the present alliance architecture. The media has preferred to be a poster-boy and delivery postman of information provided by the personal assistant to the chief minister. It is contributory negligence of the media to fuel emotion and secrecy around sickness on the pivotal arch of the State cabinet.

A person is arrested for Face book post faking news about the chief minister. The arrest under Section 505 IPC is beyond figment of imagination. The cognizance by the Crime Branch is only because the person, probably under palliative care in an overseas hospital is the chief minister of the state. Otherwise, Manohar Parrikar would not have mattered to the police and the people. As public men, the chief minister has the duty to be transparent. The image of Manohar Parrikar is of a person who despises power and considers public office as community service. The reckless route by which Parrikar took oath of office as Chief Minister earlier and now by making no prayers to the BJP national leadership for being relieved, do not provide legitimacy to this professed image. In the absence of any credible medical bulletin releasing the status of the health of chief minister, each source could be faking health of the chief minister to suit or adapt to the political scheming of the day.

The silence of the Governor who is under the constitutional oath to preserve, protect, defend the Constitution and the law is the height to which a constitutional office can be completely eclipsed by party politics and vested interests. The Governor cannot afford as the constitutional head to abdicate the duty of ensuring that the government is run as per the provisions of the constitution. It is indeed a sorry state of affairs that the Governor considers it as not his business to know about the governmental business. This is taking the doctrine of ceremonial head of State to absurd extremes.

If at all any leave of such prolonged absence is asked by the Chief Minister without any indicative date of donning back the shoes of office, the requisition needs to be on the table of the Governor. It’s not just for courtesy but demanded by protocol. It’s a constitutional obligation to appraise the Governor at regular intervals about the functioning of the government and more particularly when there are no established precedents.

It was expected from the Governor to send a legitimate and justifiable report to the centre as per the Constitution. Instead, the governor prefers to stay pretty calm providing free licence on grounds of sickness, details of which are not on official record to enact the dance of parliamentary democracy by cabinet, legislature and bureaucracy.

The news of a change in BJP leadership was floating understanding the gravity of sickness of Manohar Parrikar. Many possibilities were on test. Sudin Dhavlikar of MGP appeared acceptable to the BJP with a proviso of joining their party, but there were doubts about mustering required numbers. There were passing references made to Shripad Naik but could not gather moss as falling short of a safe constituency to be elected as a member of the House.  The sudden hot news of Goa Forward Party merging for the ‘numero uno’ office developed equally sudden cold feet.  Pramod Sawant figured but the flame died soon. It appears that BJP would prefer fresh elections rather than giving the mantle to their senior most Francis D’Souza.  Most probably, the BJP is bidding for time to recommend to the Governor dissolution of the Assembly thus paving way for fresh elections. Right now, the ground is not conducive for the BJP and none from the party exhibits confidence to get decent numbers in a fresh electoral encounter. This is what the Congress party needs to realize and plan its strategy accordingly.

If the Congress party is serious to come into power in the near future and it’s going to be in 2019, the sane advice is to stay in the opposition, making no moves whatsoever to form a government by splits and alliances. The Congress party should stay unruffled by any clandestine advances made by the present alliance partners of BJP ostensibly professing secularism or social harmony and should also desist from similar moves.  It would be perceived as baking the cake of political power on the largely considered irreversible sickness of Manohar Parrikar.  “Not my time” has to be the doctrine of the Congress party.

A headless political and administrative executive is unheard in parliamentary democracy. The constitutional head of the executive, i.e. the governor apparently has declared a black-out and cannot appreciate the evil to parliamentary form of government. The Speaker of the Goa Assembly is in a race to join all-party delegations to central ministers and never misses opportunities to share platform with party big-wigs. The forty-member House passes unanimous resolutions contrary to Supreme Court directives with no dissent and riders. The substance of democracy is dead and the shadow is mauled.

Whatever changes to happen or not in the BJP nominee for the chief ministerial berth, the highest probability is of Goa heading for President’s rule by end 2018 and general elections in 2019. In the meanwhile, the onus is on the Governor to keep at least the illusion of parliamentary democracy alive.

 

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Prabhakar Timble

Mr Prabhakar Timble is an educationist and a legal expert. He has served several educational institutions, especially as the Principal of Government College at Quepem, Kare College of Law in Madgao as well as couple of Management Institutes. He was also the State Election Commissioner of Goa.

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Previous Comments

AAP deserves one chance, to prove themselves.

I wanted all Goans to get what Delhi people are getting:

Free Health Care, Free Water, Free Electricity, Free Education, 24x7 CCTVs security around Goa, Free treatment in nearby private hospital, who met with an accident, Old Age Home with Aam Aadmi Clinic, Free Training Center for unemployed Goan Youth, etc.

- Jack De Goan, Goa | 24 th April 2018 22:13

 

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