Battle of the barons

Billed as a battle between money power vs money cum muscle power is the high voltage contest in St. Cruz constituency on the outskirts of Panaji between mining and real estate major Dinar Kamat Tarcar and Babush alias Atanasio Monseerate, Congress Minister for Education. The Minister, who is under investigation by the CBI for inciting a violent crowd to attack city police headquarters and was detained at Bombay airport a year ago for carrying illegal cash and foreign currency, is smarting under a recent Income Tax expose for alleged Rs.25 crore bribes for land conversion from land sharks as Minister for Town and Country Planning in 2006.

Tarcar, whose mining company was asked to stop extraction of iron ore for illegalities recently by the State Mines Department, is fighting on a BJP-MGP ticket. Tarcar resigned from Congress ahead of the election and joined MGP to contest against Monserrate. Monserrate, a party-hopper who has moved from regional outfits to the BJP and Congress in pursuit of power, has made and unmade governments with equal felicity.

Gender bias continues

Despite the fact that Goa has more female voters than males according to the latest figures released by Election Commission of India on Tuesday, mainstream political parties have not been liberal with tickets to women candidates. Of the total of 10,25,981 voters registered in Goa there are 5,14,941 are female voters and 5,10,549 are male voters returning a female: male ratio of 1006. There is no single voter in the ‘other category.' While the ruling Congress has given tickets to two women, NCP has given one, the BJP-MGP alliance has not given a single ticket to a woman. Interestingly, of the 555 nominations filed for the election, as many as 45 applications were of women candidates, but majority of the nominations happened to be as dummy candidates — in most cases wives filing dummy nominations for their husbands. With 60 per cent voters falling in the age group of 30-59 age, it is this category of voters that would eventually decide the electoral fate of this State which is all set to go to polls on March 3.

Party Vs. gender

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-MGP alliance has not fielded a single woman candidate for the March 3 election. Kunda Chodankar, president of BJP Mahila Morcha was asked if this was not unfair to the party's women activists who have played such a big role in projecting the party. “We accept the decision of the party as it has been based on the criterion of winnability,” she said putting party loyalty way ahead of the cause of gender equality. The only saving grace has been that by default, the BJP-MGP combine has been compelled by political compulsions to back a woman candidate — former Minister Nirmala Sawant — as an Independent in Cumbharjua constituency against Panurang Madkaikar of the Congress.

Jamalpur to boycott polls

On February 23 when the people of Lalitpur in the backward district of Bundelkhand exercise their franchise to elect a new government, villagers of Jamalpur and Tenta will stay indoors to register their protest against successive governments' failure to address their issues. ``Boycotting elections is the first step towards making themselves heard. "The second would be to take up arms like the Naxalites did,'' warned Bhagwan Singh Parmar, a villager of Jamalpur. He is one among hundreds others whose land was acquired by the government to build the Shehzad Dam across Shehzad river in 1973. The dam was commissioned in 1992 but many families allege they are yet to get full compensation. Worse, the dam overflowed due to heavy rains last monsoon and flooded the surrounding villages inhabited by the people from 14 villages who were displaced.

(Contributed by Prakash Kamat and Aarti Dhar)

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Poll DiaryJanuary 19, 2012