PACHU MENON, Margao
THE unanimous decision arrived at after the all-party meeting convened to curtail the duration of the upcoming monsoon session of the state legislative assembly to just a one-day sitting owing to the COVID-19 crisis comes as quite an antithesis to the demands made earlier by the Opposition to have an extended sitting of the House to discuss budgetary and various other issues. No doubt the prospects of having over 1000 people, including MLAs and government functionaries, converging at the assembly complex does heighten the COVID risk. However, with a slew of issues and controversies to confront it with, the minuscule Opposition could for once have rattled the government. The ‘trimming’ has in this sense saved the government the blushes. Rather than work in tandem, the BJP government in Goa has been a story of confusions getting the better of effective governance. Even the seriousness of the pandemic does not seem to have registered on the ruling dispensation! For instance, insisting that ‘the show must go on’, Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar announced the resumption of tourism activities in the state from July 2. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is however on record stating that his government’s decision to permit tourism to restart followed intense lobbying and pressure from the industry. And in the same breath he says that people need jobs and as an economic activity tourism too deserves to be restarted! However, Goa will now be encumbered by the prospects of systemising a set of standard operation procedures which will however be in sharp contrast to its existing protocols governing the movement of people into the state and their travel as the state now opens its doors for domestic tourists. The permission given to the hotels registered with the tourism department to commence operations is further mired in controversy with many legislators cutting across party lines and stakeholders in the business questioning the haste in according approval at a time when the state is in the throes of the COVID surge. Moreover, when staying at home and social distancing are being advocated as the best means to counter the virus threat, why is the government going full steam ahead with activities which will witness unrestrained movement!