Panaji, July 23 (IANS) Four months after the death of Manohar Parrikar, there are murmurs that the BJP-led coalition government in Goa is removing members of the once formidable ‘Parrikar clique’ from positions of influence in the state.
Vinay Tendulkar, president of the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has denied accusations of a purge against the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) clan to which the late Parrikar belonged. Parrikar was chief minister when he died.
On Sunday, Pandurang alias Bhai Naik, an influential BJP leader from South Goa, publicly read out the names of eight GSB individuals including politicians, administrators, lawyers and doctors, closely linked to Parrikar, who lost their official position after Pramod Sawant replaced Parrikar as chief minister in March.
“Why is the Saraswat community being targeted? Maybe I am the first person to bring it out so openly. I don’t know what action BJP will take against me, but I am proud to be a Saraswat,” Naik told IANS.
Naik, son of former cabinet minister Babu Naik, has been a member of the BJP’s national executive and is currently a member of the party’s state executive, the Goa BJP’s highest decision-making body.
Naik claims the recent sacking of Cabinet Ministers Vijai Sardesai and Rohan Khaunte, removal of former advocate general Dattaprasad Lawande and additional solicitor general of India Atmaram Nadkarni, ouster of vice chairman of the Entertainment Society of Goa Rajendra Talak and Santosh Kenkre, vice chairman of the Economic Development Corporation, all of whom are Saraswats, amounts to targeting of the community by “someone wielding power”.
“I don’t know who is doing it. But these are too many coincidences which are rolling out one after the other,” Naik said.
Last week, a video alleging the selective targeting of the GSB community, especially ministers, went viral on social media.
In his speech on Sunday, at a social occasion in Margao town, Naik named the late Parrikar’s son Utpal’s father in-law Dr Mahesh Sardesai, also a GSB, as one of those targeted. Naik, an influential GSB voice in Goa, in his speech accused Sawant of targeting minorities, claiming the Brahmin clan was a numerical minority in Goa.
It is commonly believed that the GSBs settled in the Konkan belt after they migrated from the Saraswati river basin. The GSB’s buddy network in business, religion, politics, law, creative arts, has also attracted criticism from the more populous castes.
Naik’s outburst is not the first criticism of the affairs of the BJP and the Sawant-headed government, after Parrikar’s death.
Parrikar’s son, Utpal, has repeatedly said that the culture of trust and honesty in the BJP died with his father.
After Parrikar’s death, Utpal was first goaded to contest the Panaji assembly bypoll by top partymen and then dropped unceremoniously from contention for the BJP ticket.
Another dissenting GSB voice belongs to former Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, who claims Sawant is out to “destroy” Parrikar’s legacy.
State BJP president Vinay Tendulkar, however, countered the claims that the BJP was targeting GSBs, claiming the BJP was once accused of being pro-GSB and now it is being blamed for being anti-GSB.
“There is no injustice against any Saraswat. We believe in ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’. Our treasurer, general secretary, vice president, organising secretary are all Brahmins. Our deputy CMs are from the OBC and SC communities and the CM is himself a Maratha,” Tendulkar told IANS.
“Parrikar’s coterie had controlled the state apparatus, independent of the BJP organisation or government. In his absence things will change. Water finds its own level,” said a senior bureaucrat on the condition of anonymity.