Panaji, The Congress in Goa on Sunday took potshots at Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar for spending time in the state, meeting party workers, even as border tensions between India and Pakistan simmer.
In a statement issued here, the party’s state unit said that Parrikar, a former Goa chief minister, was “busy participating in a ‘mahasampark abhiyaan’ in Goa” even though “six ceasefire violations have taken place on the border since July 15”.
“We demand that at this juncture, the defense minister should show more concern towards national security and jawans rather than the ‘mahasampark abhiyan’ in the state,” Goa Congress secretary Durgadas Kamat said in the statement.
“We condemn the attitude of Parrikar, who seems more interested in playing Goa’s weekend chief minister.”
The “mahasampark abhiyaan” is a nationwide campaign by the Bharatiya Janata Party to reach out to the party’s cadre. Parrikar has been participating in the campaign since Saturday.
The defense minister has also been criticized by the opposition in the past for camping in Goa over extended weekends.
“Six ceasefire violations have taken place since July 15, 2015, killing two and injuring 15,” the Congress statement said.
Goa has the potential to become the Venice of the East if it taps its intricate network of inland waterways for commuting, suggests Rajiv Somani, chairman and managing director of Drishti Marine, promoter of the state’s first private ferry service.
Somani, whose agency also operates a private lifeguard service along Goa’s coastline, said that the ferry service also adds to the range of offerings, in terms of “things to do” in Goa.
“The only model really close to this is the one in Venice where one can travel through waterways all the time,” Somani told IANS in an interview.
“The ferry service is more of a leisure experience. The picturesque ferry service adds to the range of offerings in terms of things to do in Goa for the hundreds and thousands of tourists who visit the state. Additionally, it also acts as a premium transit service for tourists and local residents.
“We are only targeting less than five percent of the population arriving at the airport. We understand that there are people willing to pay the fee for the trip,” he said, adding that the service would begin later this month when the tourism season begins to peak in the coastal state.
The daily ferry service will function with the help of two 40-seater, high-speed catamarans, which will ferry commuters between designated pick-up points like the state capital Panaji, heritage centres like Old Goa, beaches like Baga, Aguada and Sinquerim and the Dabolim airport.
The Airport Ferry Terminal is located at Baina beach, Vasco da Gama, and is approximately five kilometres from the Goa airport in Dabolim. A free shuttle service will be available between the ferry terminal and the airport for the convenience of passengers arriving at the airport.
Fares for the ferry service range from Rs 100 for a ride between Old Goa and Panaji to Rs 800 for a trip between the Airport Ferry Terminal (AFT) at Baina and Panaji.
The ferry will operate from 22 temporary jetties spread across the state, including tourism vantage points.”
In Phase 1 and 2 we are looking at a mix of about 22 jetties. Of these, 11 are existing jetties and 11 will be floating jetties which will be constructed by us. The present government jetties exist at Panaji, Old Goa, Chapora and Sinquerim, among other places,” he said.
Asked if the service would be competing with the state’s aggressive taxi lobby, which has been combative vis-a-vis introduction of alternative modes of mass transport, Somani said: “We are not competing with the taxi operators. One thing we were always clear about: We will not do anything which is competition to the local community”.
Somani also said that ferry services had immense potential in Goa, which is crisscrossed with waterways.
“Goa has an excellent network of waterways; what’s needed is the right kind of infrastructure. One doesn’t need to erect concrete jetties everywhere; a floating jetty like the one we are currently building in Baina works just as effectively,” he said, adding that the ferry would help better water-related experiences for visitors. (IANS)
Shimla, Nov 2, 2017, 1:00 IST: It’s literally a do-or-die battle for both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief ministerial faces in the upcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. Both veterans — one in his eighties and the other in his seventies — are struggling for their political survival.
One is veteran Congress leader and incumbent Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, 83, who is pushing hard to get to the helm for the seventh time. The other is the BJP’s Prem Kumar Dhumal, 73, who is making a strong bid to ensure the party’s victory with a record margin to silence his detractors within the party.
For almost two decades, both the parties in the state have fought almost every assembly and parliamentary polls under their leadership.
“This time, Virbhadra Singh is fighting on two fronts — one is to establish his son Vikramaditya Singh, who is contesting his maiden assembly election, and the second is to ensure the party’s repeat as he forced the Congress to announce him as the chief ministerial candidate despite all odds,” a political observer told IANS.
For Dhumal, it’s simply the battle for “self-survival” after facing a humiliating defeat in the 2012 assembly polls. Since then, he was almost marginalised by the BJP faction led by Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda.
After thwarting foes within, Virbhadra Singh donned his battle gear much ahead of this arch rival Dhumal, whose name was cleared by the BJP as its chief ministerial candidate just days ahead of the polling for the 68-seat assembly on November 9.
“The announcement of Dhumal as the chief ministerial candidate was part of the BJP’s strategy to boost the morale of the cadres as the party for long was divided in two camps — one led by Dhumal and the other by Nadda,” a senior state BJP leader admitted.
Interestingly, both Virbhadra Singh and Dhumal are seeking re-election from new seats and that is not going to be easy for them.
The Congress leader is in the fray from Arki in Solan district, the BJP’s pocket borough that he chose himself, while Dhumal is contesting from Sujanpur, the seat he was asked to contest from.
The Sujanpur contest seems interesting as the Congress has fielded Rajinder Rana, who knows the Dhumal family well.
Virbhadra Singh knows the assembly poll will be a vote on the performance of his five-year-old government.
“We are seeking votes on the basis of development by our government, especially in the education, health and connectivity sectors,” a confident Virbhadra Singh, who first became the Chief Minister in 1983, told IANS.
The Chief Minister, who has been in active politics for over 50 years, is a regular target of the top BJP leadership, who point to his being out on bail and facing corruption charges in the Delhi High Court during the time he was the Union Steel Minister 2009-11.
But against all odds, he alone tours across the state seeking votes for the Congress. Party leaders said the Chief Minister is single-handedly campaigning and he is conducting 15 to 20 meetings in two to three constituencies every day.
He starts his campaign at 9 a.m. and continues till late into the night. He holds closed-door meetings with party workers in the evening for their feedback.
The only saving grace for the Congress is that its Vice President, Rahul Gandhi, will tour the state on November 6, a day before the campaigning comes to an end.
Contrary to this, the BJP has fielded its entire top brass — from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his cabinet colleagues, including Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley and J.P. Nadda.
Even party President Amit Shah is aggressively touring the hill state.
“The Congress has failed to handle even sensitive cases like gang-rape of a schoolgirl. Our focus on coming to power will be eliminating forest, mining, liquor and transfer mafias that are active in the state for long. This will greatly help restoring the faith of the public,” Dhumal told IANS.
Political observers say issues like development have been pushed to the background as personal attacks dominate most of the election rallies.
“Apart from mudslinging, there is no public-specific agenda with both the leaders. They are just trying to woo voters by raking up personal issues,” an observer said.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said Singh is the main “star” of the party campaign in the state.
“Virbhadra Singh is campaigning on the ground and the BJP is baffled at the response he is getting. We don’t have to be loud to impress the people, like the BJP is doing,” Surjewala told reporters in Shimla on Thursday.
Virbhadra Singh is targeting Dhumal by saying he has always worked with a political vendetta against him.
But a confident Dhumal believes there is a favourable wind prevailing for the BJP’s return as the present government has wasted much time in the ongoing corruption cases against Virbhadra Singh and his family rather than focusing on development.
The future of the arch rivals will be pronounced on December 18, the day the votes cast will be counted along with those in Gujarat.
The Congress won 36 of the 68 seats in Himachal Pradesh in 2012 with a 42.81 per cent vote share, while the BJP bagged 26 seats with a 38.47 per cent vote share.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org) –IANS
Kangra(Himachal Pradesh), November 2, 2017: Terming the Congress a “laughing club”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said it was losing its hold in every corner of the country.
“We all need to look at the Congress. We should appreciate them. Nothing is left for them and they have lost their hold from every part of the country,” Modi said in his first election rally in Kangra ahead of the Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.
“Wherever people have a chance, they have voted for change. They (Congress) have become a laughing club,” he said.
Assembly polls in Congress-ruled Himachal will be held on November 9.
Attacking the Himachal Pradesh government, Modi said Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh was talking of action against corruption when he himself was out on bail on a corruption case.
“Despite the case, Singh ‘saheb’ is claiming there will be zero tolerance against corruption if the Congress is back in power. Can anyone believe him?” asked Modi.(IANS)