There was a time when progress was measured in five-year plans. Now it’s 100 days. I fail to understand why governments use the 100-day deadline, but somewhere along our political journey it became fashionable and on July 7, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant released a booklet listing the achievements of his government in 100 days.
Speaking on the occasion, Sawant said that in 100 days he stopped religious conversions of Hindus. How the CM came to believe that Hindus are being converted on a large scale in Goa is a mystery. I suppose this is what happens when you read A K Priolkar’s book on the Goa Inquisition in 2022 instead of 1961 and mix up the timelines. To put it plainly, the CM’s claim is akin to saying “I stopped all flooding in Patto” after the monsoons.
When Sawant led the BJP to victory in the February elections, it seemed like his political future was secured for the next five years. Truth is, nothing is secure when you have Vishwajit Rane as a colleague. What followed was a contest between the two, with Rane overturning land conversions and grabbing headlines in the process.
After some soul searching, head-scratching and brainstorming, Sawant came up with a brilliant plan to form a special investigating team (SIT) to probe fraudulent land deals and the State got to know that there were over 80 cases languishing in various police stations. Most would not have seen the light of day if not for the SIT. Irrespective of the motivations, Sawant got this right, even though I am tempted to ask why nothing was done since 2012 when the BJP came to power.
Just when Sawant seemed to have caught up with his nemesis, he faltered again. This time it was over the panchayat polls. Why he decided to postpone the elections when the law prohibiting such a move is well settled, is another mystery, like the conversions. At first, it was believed that the government wanted to postpone polls in order to implement OBC reservations. As the case in the High Court of Bombay in Goa progressed it became clear that the government was reluctant to hold polls during the monsoons. Even though this contention was rejected by the Supreme Court, one has to admit that holding polls in the monsoons is a daunting task, especially in Goa where it pours and many areas are prone to flooding. That being the case, the question is, why did the government not have polls in May? The CM did not emerge from this controversy unscathed. Now it looks like he was never in favour of OBC reservation and it remains to be seen how this impacts on voting, which in all likelihood will be held on August 10.
Government is a continuous process and it will take more than 100 days for the Sawant government to notch up some real achievements. The way he is going about it, there is a possibility that restarting mining through the auction route could be his brightest moment. The industry has been reeling under a crisis of its own making and, the reluctance of past governments to take the bull by the horns, has further complicated the matter. Sawant could be the man to untangle this knot and if he succeeds he will not only take a lead over Rane, but also leave him far behind.