Prakash Kamat

Goa witnessed two governments in 2005

2005 milestones Goa's best achievement in 2005 was on the tourism frontIndustrial development took a backseat after sales tax concessions were withdrawnThe police had to deal with a rise in drug peddling cases and law and order problemsGoa's confirmed permanent venue of International Film Festival of India

PANAJI: The year that ended on Saturday brought back memories of political instability in the State, despite a coalition Government with a clear majority in power.

The year 2005 started with a political crisis that saw the exit of a relatively stable regime headed by Manohar Parrikar. The Government collapsed following the disintegration of the coalition which the BJP had cobbled up together to continue in power. While the Congress, which was then in the Opposition, tried to project the issue as a fight between the "communal BJP" and a "secular Congress," the events that followed revealed that the crossover by many MLAs was in sheer pursuit of power.

The State, which has gained notoriety for the defections that have become a common feature of the political life here, witnessed a spurt in splits and crossovers, which hurt the BJP the most. By the end of the year, the party's strength reduced from 37 to 15. Two of its MLAs, including State BJP President Rajendra Arlekar, have contested their disqualification under The People's Representation Act while Mathany Saldanha of UGDP is contesting his disqualification by the Speaker under the Anti Defection Act.

On the other hand, the Congress-led coalition increased its tally by four after the byelections, which anointed it back to power. However, internecine political feuds as well as the power struggle between the Congress and the NCP continued throughout the year, keeping the coalition very fragile.

While controversies such as the Dabolim versus the proposed new Mopa airport and the amendments to the Town and Country Planning Act brought out the internal differences within the ruling Congress to the fore, the alleged involvement of South Goa MP in the sting operation by news channels on MPLADS invited an embarrassment to the party.

Tourism

On the tourism front, crime continued to make headlines. The police had to deal with a significant rise in drug peddling cases, law and order problems, murder and rioting. The latest case of lynching of a local landlord by villagers in North Goa also shocked the State.

Despite the differences between taxi operators and travel agents, tourism continued to gain throughout the year. With several international tourism destinations coming under a cloud owing to terrorist strikes or natural calamities such as the tsunami, 2005 turned out to be exceptionally good for the State with 43 chartered flights arriving a week as against 28 in the previous year.

However, on the industrial front, the State had nothing much to show with hardly any major investment coming in after it lost its competitive edge with the exit of sales tax concessions, post-VAT. Much to the plight of the industry, power supply has deteriorated in the State, which could send a wrong signal to investors.

The State heaved a sigh of relief as the Centre confirmed that Goa would be the permanent venue of the International Film Festival of India. As a result, the State qualifies for an assistance of Rs. 50 crores from the Planning Commission to upgrade infrastructure in the capital. The year also ended on a confident note with Chief minister Pratapsing Rane announcing plans to join hands with Karnataka to attract investors.

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