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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

First battle won, but the war remains: Goa Forward Party

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Margao: Goa Forward Party Chief Vijai Sardesai reacting to the return of a batch of Seafarers has said that the first battle won solely due to the pressure of Seafarers, their Families and Seamen Association, but the War remains.

Sardesai in a statement released has said: the Goa Forward Party (GFP) is glad that on 21st April, 2020 late night, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) finally relented and made an exception to the lockdown in place and opened the Indian Ports to allow the Merchant Ships to sign on and sign off their Crew following the due protocols (SOPs).

The Goa Forward Party asserts that this happened solely because of the pressure on the Central and State Government, not so much political pressure but moral pressure, brought on by the Seafarers, their Families and the Goan Seamen Association of India and those NGOs and Citizens supporting them.

The Goa Forward Party also at the outset wishes to caution that this is just a small, though important, battle-victory. The bigger war, however, is still to be won. So there is no need for overreaction or for complacency. Yes, right, as we say in Konkani: “Xitta fuddem mitt kaunchem nhoi”! Goa Forward Party will say this till the last Goan Seafarer safely returns home to Goa.

Unfortunately, as usual, some Politicians who claim to be self- styled leaders of the Seafarers are attempting to take credit for something that was purely a victory due to the sheer grit and determination of the Seafarer Community and less due to any Politician or the Political class.

I must admit I have no shame in saying that though being a Political leader myself, the Politicians or Political Class deserve no credit in this particular case. Let me explain.

I had said in my first Video on the Seafarers issue some days back that the present Goa Government has an antipathy towards me and so I had refrained from speaking on the issue

till then as I didn’t want that antipathy towards me to affect the legitimate Seafarers cause. Nor did I want to intrude into the ‘turf’ of the self-styled leaders of the Seafarers. However, due to the persistent pleas of many of you on the Ships I decided to take this Government head on.

I wish to say that as a Politician I am clear and realistic about my role. If I am in the Government I give my hundred percent as I did when Goa Forward Party was in alliance with the BJP and others. So also, when I am in the Opposition I give my hundred percent. I don’t mince my words when I have to speak for Goenkars.

The antipathy of the present Government towards me stems from the fact that I have understood the ROLE of the Opposition which is to ask the hard and uncomfortable questions of the ruling party and having not succeeded in silencing me and preventing me from asking the uncomfortable questions, shockingly, they are now using the supposed-to-be the non- ruling NCP MLA to target me. On what ground is Churchill criticising me. I am on Fatorda ground. Is he on some football ground where the generosity of the ruling party fetches his family club more than 6 Crore Rupees from this Chief Minister?

It is surprising that this supposed-to-be the non-ruling NCP MLA is targeting me, not for saying anything to him, but for criticizing the ruling BJP Government and the Chief Minister. How did this supposed-to-be NCP MLA suddenly turn into a BJP ‘Attack Dog’? This is a million-dollar-JICA question…!

Interestingly, this supposed-to-be NCP MLA thanked every BJP Politician but didn’t say a single word of thanks to his own Party National General Secretary, Mr. Praful Patel who is on record that he also tried to intervene with the Central Government at the urging, mind you, of the State NCP President, Jose Filipe D’Souza. Is it any wonder then, while speaking yesterday he could not even remember which party he belongs to?

There is a saying in Konkani: “Fest Korta Ganv, President- ichem Nanv”. Such is the scenario in this case. Seafarers and their families do all the hard work and these self-appointed leaders of Seafarers want to take credit for the victory. I purposely waited for a day to make a statement as I wanted to see who are all the “Vultures” (Gidh) rushing in, to feed on a dead body, to pat themselves and take the credit.

Let it be known to people of the ilk of Churchill: I aligned with Parrikar to form a Government in Goa for the sake of a Stable, Progressive and Inclusive Government. I did not merge my Party or my Identity nor my Ideology as some Congressmen have done of late formally and you have done so ‘body and soul’ informally. I was a Proud Goa Forward Party Leader earlier in the ruling dispensation and I continue to do so now in the Opposition. I have not ‘sold my soul’ like some have for a few Crores. Interestingly, you said yesterday that 95% of the Seafarers support you. Is any Goemkar surprised that you are talking in percentages.

By the way Goa Forward Party is a recognised state political party and not a family run football club. We take decisions after due thought and at right time for the sake Goem, Goemkar & Goemkarponn. I am a self respecting politician now and also when as Congress General Secretary. I had opposed family raj in the party.

Goa Forward Party wishes to CONGRATULATE the Seafarer Community for having the courage and determination to go through this pain, trauma and ordeal for nearly two months in the face of total Insensitivity, Unresponsiveness and Rigidity of the Goan Government who had neither the Political will nor the Political pull to effectively represent your grave concerns to the Indian Government for so many days now. They were only giving endless timelines and making their “lampiao”, make empty promises.

First of all, it was the pressure from your distraught Families in Goa who kept pestering their MLAs and finally the ‘Surgical Strike’ by the courageous GINA PEREIRA at the residence of the CM supported by the Goa Seamen Association of India that the Government of Goa was finally jolted into action to impress on the Central Government to act fearing the growing anger and wrath of your anxious families in Goa.

Secondly, the growing anxiety and frustration of all of you was powerfully brought out by the other “Surgical Strike” – the Video by our Tarvotti brethren on Marella Discovery again with the support of the Goa Seamen Association that Goemkars helped to make viral that morning throughout India. The BBC story of Sri Lankan Government opening their port, despite a lockdown like India, to save just ONE Citizen and the Video of your exemplary Captain exposing the irresponsibility of Indian Government towards their own Citizens for the last 40 days was like the last straw “that broke the camel’s back” and forced the Government of India to take a late night decision to open the Indian Ports for disembarkation of Indian Seafarers, more out of fear of International shame and ramifications rather than out of any Political compulsions.

By now, we must understand that any decisions taken at midnight are not “normal decisions” by any Government but only those that are taken either out of Compulsion or Deceit. This was amply evident in the ‘face saving’ and ‘BJP-MLAs saving’ Media Video of the CM on 21st late night.

Hence, we want to say LOUD and CLEAR this is a VICTORY, however small, of PURELY THE SEAFARER COMMUNITY, that is the Seafarers all over the World, their families in Goa and their Association trying to protect and promote their interests in Goa for the last 10 years called THE GOAN SEAMEN ASSOCIATION of INDIA (GSAI). We acknowledge also other Goans at large and NGOs who have actively supported them and their relentless efforts.

Irrespective of all those making noises in Goa and giving empty promises, the only Goa Politician who has sincerely pursued your matter in Delhi in the last couple of days, we can say with confidence as I was following up with him and other IAS Officers in Delhi, is Mr. Shripad Naik, Mos (Defence) MP, North Goa. Rest of them deserves no credit. They have given you enough of pain and ordeal for the last 40 days. They were only making statements for political consumption and indulging in utter tomfoolery.

Having said the above, I want to caution our Seafarer Community that the WAR is still left to be won. We have only won a small, though significant, battle. I say this because with this small victory not even 5% of the Seafarers will benefit at present. More than 95% are still at risk around the World. The fastest solution to your woes would have been if the Indian Government had allowed charter or rescue flights to land at least in Mumbai and in Goa as asserted by GSAI yesterday. We hope this will be done at least on May 3rd or else it may require more “Surgical Strikes” to wake up and goad into action this insensitive Government.

Goa Forward Party prays for your wellbeing and wishes that things fall in place at the earliest for the RETURN OF THE LAST REMAINING GOENKAR TARVOTTI stranded around the World.

Goa Forward Party assures the Seafarer Community that we will continue MAKING NOISE about your welfare and safe return as a RESPONSIBLE and PROUD Opposition Party which is our bounden duty despite the antipathy and virulent attack by some on us, either in person or through their proxies, including the present ruling dispensation in Goa.

 

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