Goa debates renaming road after Manohar Parrikar
Panaji: What’s in a name? Ask the angry residents of South Goa’s Margao town, who have innovatively resisted the christening of an approximately two km long refurbished road, after former Chief Minister later Manohar Parrikar.
Last week, angry residents of Margao and Fatorda on their own volition, erected road signage dedicated to former leader of Opposition late Jack Sequeira and Goa’s best-known poet and Padma Shri late Balakrishna Bhagwant alias Bakibab Borkar, even as the local municipal council controlled by the Goa Forward party headed by opposition MLA Vijai Sardesai was gearing up to put up signage of its own, in the memory of the former Defence Minister. The road is expected to be formally named after Parrikar on February 13, his first birth anniversary.
“Naming the road after Parrikar, who has nothing to do with Margao or Fatorda is a political move by Vijai. We want the road to be named after Jack Sequeira, who campaigned for Goa’s identity during the Opinion Poll of 1967 or our land’s greatest poet Borkar,” one of the agitators Viratio Fernandes has maintained. The road signage was later seized by civic workers.
The proposal to name the road from Arlem junction to Ravindra Bhavan in Margao was mooted in July this year by the Margao Municipal Council, which is controlled by Sardesai.
Sardesai, a former deputy Chief Minister has argued that the road stretch was one of the state’s most modern thoroughfares and because it was Parrikar who commissioned it when he was Chief Minister, it should be named after him.
Sardesai had been one of the most bitter critics of the late Chief Minister, but political compulsion after Goa elected a hung Assembly in 2017, led to both, Sardesai and Parrikar, coming together to form a coalition government.
After Parrikar’s death, however, the obvious attempts to usurp the former Defence Minister’s ‘legacy’ by Sardesai, could be dubbed as the Goan political equivalent of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP attempting to tap into the legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel from the Congress, much to the latter’s chagrin.
The obvious tom-tomming by Sardesai, who like Parrikar also belongs to the influential Gaud Saraswat Brahmin clan, about being the guardian of Parrikar’s legacy and attempting to name the road after the late politician as proof of the sentiment, has also irked Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
In a veiled criticism of Sardesai’s attempt to name the minor road after Parrikar, Sawant urged against christening “any random thing” after the late BJP leader.
“But one thing I keep saying. Many people want to lend his name to any random thing. Manohar bhai’s name has such a huge stature. Do not reduce it. It does not take long to reduce the stature of someone so tall. Let us keep him on a pedestal. His name should not be lent to any random thing,” Sawant said on December 4.
When it comes to Goa, Parrikar’s legacy itself is a chequered one. While Parrikar built his reputation on the back of stellar terms as an Opposition and a Leader of Opposition, Parrikar’s regime was also marked for its arrogance, contempt for institutions, inability to nail corruption, repeated reneging on promises, as well as his proximity to the state’s two most powerful lobbies which control the mining and casino industries.
In his final months, Parrikar’s unwillingness to relinquish power on account of his illness and his attempts to control administration from intensive care units of various hospitals was also criticised in civil society and the Opposition. Parrikar died on March 17.
According to Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar those who want to indulge in “naming ceremony” politics, should remember that the “so-called vision of Parrikar has actually resulted in the collapse of the economy in Goa.
“All the projects, schemes and decisions, which have turned out to be big scams and centres of huge corruption, need to be named after Parrikar so that the future generation is made aware of his corrupt regime. The mining pits in Goa, rusting trucks and heavy machinery in the mining belt should be named after Parrikar who took the credit of closing down mining industry in Goa,” Chodankar told.