Parrikar’s own pictures from the BJP’s publicity materials were dropped. Utpal was told to stay ready to be fielded from Panaji, the seat his father had held. Instead, for long Parrikar’s personal secretary, Sidharth Kuncalienker, was given the seat in an apparent divide-and-rule move within the family.
Parrikar was a Gaud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB). Sawant is a Maratha. Most GSBs in government now live in the agony of uncertainty as to their future. Speaking to local reporters, 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 Sawant replaced his as the Chief Minister. “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 the BJP will take against me, but I am proud to be a Saraswat,” Naik said. He 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. Of course, he doesn’t count for anything anymore, but Vijai Sardesai was blunt. At a public meeting last month, he said, “For us, the BJP is finished after the death of Parrikar. We will never let the BJP rule this state in future.”
Earlier this month, Parrikar’s favourite bureaucrat, P Krishnamurthy, who was principal secretary of the state, was transferred to Lakshadweep. When Parrikar was diagnosed with cancer and flown to the US for treatment, it was Krishnamurthy he had authorised to sign files on his behalf, a move that was widely criticised. Before that, when he was defence minister, Krishnamurthy moved with him to Delhi on an appointment for five years.
After Sawant was done with the people, it was time to revamp policy. Sawant has overhauled the Cyberage policy, a signature move by Parrikar to give free laptops and tablets to students, on the grounds that the equipment was being “misused”.
Now, it is the Goa governor who has called out Sawant. After having a meeting with Governor Satyapal Malik, Sawant came out to say he had told him the government was doing a fine job managing the Covid-19 pandemic and that the media had it all wrong. Not at all, said the governor, I said no such thing and I certainly didn’t blame the media. Sawant replied that the governor was always right.
The question is, where does that leave Goa.