Lagaan that boomrangs

| 17 August 2001 17:33 IST

Lagaan is making waves in Goa, but not the one produced and directed by hero Amir Khan. This is produced and directed by the opposition Congress, but BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar has become the hero!

Known as a 'hero of zero hour' during his Parliamentary days, former Congress MP Shantaram Naik a week ago picked up a notification regarding land revenue hike and hacked the government left and right, describing it as lagaan of the anti-farmer, anti-poor, anti-common man etc etc Bharatiya Janata Party.

Obviously it raised eyebrows of everybody since the tax hike was enormous. Shantaram said it was almost 200 to 300 per cent. Following footsteps of her predecessor Shantaram, Goa PCC chief Nirmala Sawant also blasted the BJP CM. How can they do it when agriculture is in worst ever condition today, she asked angrily.

"Why are you blaming me when former Congress prime minister P V Narsimha Rao signed the WTO and pushed agriculture into crisis", shot back chief minister Parrikar. None of them however denied a fact that the land tax had not been revised till date after liberation in 1961 but the rates prevalent in 1958 are still applicable.

Expressing ignorance, Parrikar however ordered an inquiry into it. And blushing with jubilation, he hurriedly called a press conference on Thursday, simply to announce that the lagaan is a baby of the Congress and not the BJP.

The whole process had begun during erstwhile Congress regime in 1986 of Pratapsing Rane, the speaker today (whose ambitious son is being awarded with a post of a chairman of tourism corporation by the BJP). After going through the whole process of objections etc, it was then tabled in the House by then Congress CM Luizinho Faleiro, the opposition leader today, in July 1999. The House then unanimously passed it (including the BJP) in March 2000, when a coalition of the BJP and defector Congressmen was ruling.

The hike is enormous as it would increase state income from Rs nine lakh to almost Rs 3.5 crore annually. Parrikar is still prepared to withdraw it, but with a condition. The Congress has to apologise, he says, for the lagaan !

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