Soon after it became apparent that the rumble in the villages brought under the jurisdiction of the PDAs wasn’t going to blow over, Vijai Sardesai made the dramatic Easter eve gesture of pulling out Santa Cruz and Santo Andre from the newly constituted Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority (GPPDA). Sadly for the town and country planning minister, his grand gesture has been rebuffed, and from the mood at the April 6 protest, the wheels of public disaffection against the PDAs—notorious for corruption—seem set to pick pace. The demands of the village groups are unequivocal: bin the newly created GPPDA; withdraw the PDAs’ jurisdiction over villages; and junk the regional plan 2021. Untangling himself from this confrontation might prove tricky even for someone as politically astute—as he believes he is—as Sardesai.
The church’s open support to the campaign—Goa’s unique villages were being systematically destroyed by planning models imposed by the government, it said—must be a worrying concern for a politician who banked on the ‘minority’ vote, and whose pre-2017 poll rhetoric was shaped around a ‘secular’ image.
One senses there’s also an element of payback—for political opportunism—at play in what Sardesai is up against currently. No other politician in Goa has used bravado and spin to get what he wanted as he has.
It’s almost impossible to co-relate the Vijai Sardesai of pre-election anti-BJP spiel to the current avatar that spins an oratory extolling the very reverse. But it was in July of last year that the Fatorda MLA was truly at the top of his game, when in an air of giddy triumph he announced that Babush Monserrate was joining Goa Forward, “to give chief minister Manohar Parrikar a walkover in the Panjim byelection”. The quid pro quo for this was to be the GPPDA, designed to Monserrate’s specifications. The lame-duck Congress which had failed to get its act together to form a government was made to look even lamer: “Our narrative of Goanness is unique enough to expand the party, and leaders who have substantial influence in the state are joining us. Babush has great influence in two constituencies, where we are now set to have a strong presence;” Sardesai had said.