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A candidate for Panaji

By Derek Almeida

Even the best Aamir Khan potboiler fails to match up to the excitement and suspense of an election. And Panaji is going to witness one soon. With Manohar Parrikar out of the way everyone with political ambition has sensed a political opportunity, especially ‘Not Together for Panaji’, a new outfit with old ideas.Francis Bruno Lawrence, the general secretary of NTP was entrusted with the job of selecting a candidate and he began with great earnest. Those without an engineering degree were chucked out in the preliminary round. The first aspirant to arrive for the interview was Sanjay P.

“What will you do for Panaji if elected as MLA?” Francis asked.

“Sir, my first task would be to set up a garbage plant”, said Sanjay, “Then rejuvenate the St Inez creek and bring order to the city…”

“Sanjay, thank you for coming, but Panaji doesn’t require an MLA who will do work”, said Francis and dismissed him.

Sanjay went back a broken man, wondering if he should have told them the truth; that he was in it for the money.

“Why do you want to be an MLA?”  Francis asked the second candidate, one Alfonso L.

“Sir, I want to reorganise the parking system in the city”, Alfonso said with enthusiasm that only candidates and not MLAs display.

“Are you out of your mind”, shouted Francis, “if no one has bothered to organise parking it’s because Panjimites love double parking. Take that away and you will destroy the identity of this great city. Now get out.”

Alfonso left a shaken man wondering if should have bared his desire for a ‘lal batti’, instead.

The third fellow in was a diploma holder, but had managed to get an interview through his dad’s connections in the NTP.

“What is your opinion of the mayor of Panaji and how will you deal with him?” asked Francis.

“Sir, the mayor of Panaji wants to do a lot for Panaji and I will definitely cooperate with him”, said P Rodrigues, the diploma holder.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Francis, “Don’t you know that as MLA you are not supposed to cooperate with the mayor?”

“What if he comes up with a good idea for Panaji?” asked Rodrigues.

“So what?” shouted Francis, “If he is not from your party, you have to oppose him. Panaji can wait.”

The exasperated Francis sifted through applications hoping to find one person with MLA credentials, when a middle-aged chap with a moustache and dressed in a shirt, trousers and sandals entered.

“Please don’t tell me you want to refurbish the city or organise the traffic,” said Francis.

“If I am elected as MLA, I will do nothing”, said the man. Francis straightened up. At last a candidate with old ideas, he thought. “Will you cooperate with the mayor in cleaning up the St Inez creek?” he asked.

“Never”, replied the man. “I will never cooperate with anyone who comes up with better ideas than I. And if elected I will ensure that all government grants to the CCP are stopped until I have a mayor of my choice.”

Francis began to warm up. “Do you have any plans for a garbage treatment plant for the city?” he asked.

“No”, asserted the man, “Panaji can wait.”

Francis was overjoyed. His search was over. He had found a candidate who would ensure continuity of neglect for Panaji. “What are your views on parking?” he asked, just to test the man.

“I am against pay parking and all for double parking”, said the man. “Anything that is good for traders is good for the city.”

“How do you propose to deal with the traffic chaos?” Francis eagerly asked.

“What traffic chaos?” replied the man.

Francis embraced the man. “You are the right candidate for the city”, he said. “Since you are going to be our MLA, I need to know your opinion on construction of a new airport at Mopa?”

“When in South Goa, I will support the Dabolim airport”, said the man, “And in North Goa I will back Mopa.”

Francis was elated. He quickly called the president of the party, “Sir I have found a suitable candidate. This man is chief minister material.”

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