Empty parking lots, silent corridors; Goa secretariat misses CM Manohar Parrikar

The sixth day of the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Goa is usually a groggy day in government offices. With most having spent much of the previous night singing and dancing while immersing the idol of Ganpati in various water bodies across the state, the sixth day is one of recovery.

Tuesday was not just another of those days at the Goa Secretariat. A lone policeman stood at the gate screening visitors, the parking lots were nearly empty and attendance was thin — an uneasy calm among the bureaucracy while a political storm raged around.

But within the important offices, those who ambled about claimed nothing had changed, revealing that chief minister Manohar Parrikar is indeed keeping things ticking.

“Our work remains the same. Files sent to the chief minister’s office are being scanned and dispatched to the chief minister. 70% of the files being approved with the words ‘OK’ being scribbled on to it,” an official informed. The others are either being returned with the comment ‘hold’ or are not returned at all.

“When it comes to routine work there is no holdup,” an official in the Goa government told HT on the condition of anonymity.

“It is only policy decisions that could be held up because of the chief minister’s absence,” the official added.

But the biggest factor is the absence of noisy delegations. On a usual day, delegations of people ranging from industry bodies to lobbies and associations are always waiting to call on the chief minister to press for their ‘demands’ and return after a proverbial ‘patient hearing’ which is enough to satisfy most that the government is functioning. With the chief minister away and the inability of individual ministers to give concrete assurances, there’s no one to turn to.

During his medical visit to the USA between February and June this year, the chief minister said he was personally monitoring the state.

“I was, except some 10-15 days, in touch with the state for all decision making. Each decision was being delivered to me by email and I used to approve it from there. Each decision was being conveyed to the secretary,” Parrikar had said in June this year after he returned from his first trip in the US.

This time though, the chief minister had initially expressed his inability to discharge his duties and sought that his workload be transferred to other ministers. However, political posturing and wrangling among coalition partners has put paid to such a move, leaving the ruling BJP little option.

Another officer claimed that there was only an appearance of things coming to a standstill. “In case Goa comes to life only after the monsoons and the tourism season, when activity is more visible,” he said.

On Monday BJP observers left for New Delhi promising to hand over their report to the national president who will take a decision on the future course of action which is now awaited.

“Whatever everyone has said I will place before the national president. What decision has to be taken will be taken,” BJP’s national secretary (organisation) told reporters before departing.

With no solution in sight, the BJP central command is planning a ‘temporary’ arrangement of the old formula of appointing a cabinet advisory committee as was done earlier this year. A decision in this regard could be announced as early as tomorrow.

First Published: Sep 19, 2018 07:25 IST

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