Local Goa News

Thursday, September 1, 2016

‘Flags were waved at Shah to draw attention to our issue’

The RSS decision to remove Subhash Velingkar as Goa RSS chief will not affect the prospects of BBSM and will backfire on the BJP and the RSS instead, said former IAS officer and BBSM's senior leader Arvind Bhatikar. In an interview with Gauree Malkarnekar, Bhatikar spoke of BBSM's bitterness towards defence minister Manohar Parrikar, bonhomie with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and plans to float a regional party.

TOI: Was RSS's decision to relieve Subhash Velingkar as its Goa state chief expected by the BBSM?
Bhatikar: It was not expected. We had discussed the possibility a while ago, and at the time Velingkar told us that everyone in the RSS, right up to the topmost level, is aware of the medium of instruction (MoI) issue in Goa and that they share BBSM's views. Velingkar had also said that in the unlikely event of RSS giving him a rap over the issue, the whole of Goa (RSS unit) would resign. And the same has happened. He had also told us that there is so much anger among RSS workers on the Goa government's MoI decision, that he would be beaten up by them for withdrawing his agitation against the state BJP government .
The BBSM was invited by chief minsiter Laxmikant Parsekar to come out with a solution...
We were skeptical, yet we went. We were called at very short notice. We received the call late in the evening telling us that the chief minister wants to meet us the next morning. The meeting was called at 9.45am. When it started he (Parsekar) gave us a 45-minute lecture on government schemes available for Konkani/Marathi. We kept waiting for him to come to the point. Following protocol, we listened to him. But when he was done, Velingkar asked him to come to the point of grants to English-medium schools. He then started looking at his watch.
We later saw in the media that he was trying to portray as though the talks were under way between the BBSM and the government, and trying to give a wrong impression. We decided then not to go for future meetings.
What do you think of BBSM's future after the RSS's decision on Velingkar?
Personally, I was shocked when I first heard of it and did think to myself where has this led us. But by evening, I heard of the support by RSS workers and I thought it is fantastic, for two reasons. It will make the government realise that the MoI issue is not as simple as they are treating it; that it is not only limited to Velingkar. I believe that Konkan region RSS leaders were nearly attacked by local workers at the meeting on Wednesday night.
Each RSS worker is equivalent to 100 persons because of their capacity to slog for a cause tirelessly. If they work with dedication, there is no way the BJP can return to power.
The other reason is no one in Delhi was taking notice of the issue here so far. When we waved black flags at Amit Shah, the flags were not for Shah, but a call to him to take notice of our issue.
When I spoke to Velingkar after the RSS decision on Wednesday, he was absolutely calm.
Was it the waving of black flags at Shah or BBSM's decision to float a political party that lead to Velingkar being relieved as Goa RSS chief?
It was neither. I feel the strength of our movement was growing and, of late, MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar had extended his support to us. This made the BJP fear that their prospects would be affected. Manohar Parrikar is an astute politician. He was waiting for the right time to make his move.
What is the status of BBSM's plans to align with the MGP?
MGP may have had second thoughts now as Velingkar is no longer in command. There have been lots of developments since Velingkar being relieved from his RSS post. The support he has among RSS workers is tremendous. There are workers within the MGP asking the party tough questions on the MoI issue. As of now, we have kept our options open. We feel MGP and BBSM's alliance will happen.
What happens to BBSM's decision to contest polls through its political party if the state decides to withdraw grants to English-medium schools?
If they withdraw grants now, it doesn't make a difference to us. We will go ahead with our plans to contest the elections. Because we no longer trust that they will not change their decision after being elected.
I feel that Parsekar, left to himself, might have withdrawn grants to English-medium primary schools. He is a better administrator. But he is afraid to overturn decisions taken by Parrikar.
What is the cause for such extreme bitterness between the BBSM, particularly Velingkar, and Parrikar?
It was Parrikar and Parsekar who had come to us before the 2012 polls, asking for our support. We agreed on the condition that the withdrawal of grants to English-medium schools be part of the party manifesto. Parrikar agreed, but when the manifesto was out we saw that it spoke of an 'amicable solution'. We pointed it out to him and he assured us that there was nothing to worry. On being elected with our support, Parrikar did not do anything for two years. He kept telling us that he would show us the MoI policy and only then implement it. One fine day he just called us and said that the draft was ready and he has decided to continue grants to English-medium schools. I remember telling him then that 'this is not fair'.
When his decision was criticized, Parrikar began lying openly that the decision, approved by the cabinet, cannot be overturned. That was a blatant lie. Any executive decision of the government can be overturned at any time.
Will BBSM ask Velingkar to contest the forthcoming assembly polls?
The current crisis is the collective failure of the RSS. Instead of asking the government to withdraw grants to English-medium schools, it is trying to resolve the issue by asking Velingkar to go. Probably, the RSS leaders do not know how strong the feeling is against the state's MoI decision. This unrest will not stop. It will backfire on the central RSS leadership and the state BJP. Velingkar is a clean and straightforward person. All of us have been telling him to contest the upcoming polls and that he will surely win a seat
Manohar Parrikar is an astute politician. He was waiting for the right time to make his move

TOI Goa News

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