The Urban Development Minister, Mr Francis D’Souza, on Monday announced on the floor of the state Assembly that the elections to the posts of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Corporation of the City of Panaji would be held on April 4.
The announcement by Mr D’Souza came in response to a calling attention motion moved by the Bharatiya Janata Party legislator, Mr Pramod Sawant, raising the issue of apprehension and anxiety in the minds of people of Goa, specially the residents of Panaji, following postponement of elections to the post of Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the CCP.
Mr D’Souza, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, further informed the House that the elections should be held in the first meeting of the year, even as he said that wrong procedure was being followed since the CCP came into being.
Stating that following representation made by two “prominent” citizens of Panaji about wrong procedure being followed, he said that the government decided to act and correct the wrongs by amending the CCP Act. He also said two out of five terms of Mayor would hence be reserved for women.
He further stated that as per the provisions in the Lokayukta Act as regards to declaration of assets, as was applicable to all legislators, would be made applicable to the corporators of CCP until it frames its own rules and bylaws. He also stated that all the rules and bylaws in force under the Goa Municipalities Act would be applicable to the CCP.
The Deputy Chief Minister also said that holding of monthly meetings would be made obligatory failing which the Mayor would attract the consequences of removal from the post. He went on to add that more reforms would be brought to make the functioning of the CCP truly democratic and transparent.
Mr D’Souza, earlier sought to blame the former Congress government for the ills of the CCP and said that those opposing the postponement of CCP polls would have served democracy better had they agreed to discuss the issue on the floor of the Assembly as was suggested by the Speaker, Mr Rajendra Arlekar, and the Chief Minister, Mr Manohar Parrikar.
He further said that those who spoke about trampling of democracy needed to introspect whether bringing down a democratically-elected government by manipulation and politicking at the level of Governor was democracy. “They were in fact guilty of murder of democracy,” he said.
He also said that the intentions of the government were to set right the wrongs that have set in the CCP and also in many other municipal councils. He also said that it was not the intention of the government to delay the mayoral elections but to stop scam; such was seen in allotment of shop. He also said that an enquiry has been ordered to probe illegalities. The South Goa collector was probing the illegalities, he stated.
He pointed out that Comptroller and Auditor General in its report had pointed out an unauthorised expenditure of Rs 5.32 crore from 2005-08 by engaging daily wage workers, some of whom were placed at the disposal of a then minister, residing in Taleigao. “The government wants to prevent such irregularities,” he said.
Mr Atanasio Monserrate pointed out as to what was the hurry in postponing the elections, even as he offered to join hands with the government for the development of Panaji. He also pointed out that the procedure that was set in the initial stage was being followed and adopted by the CCP all these years.
Mr Vijay Sardessai pointed out that the postponing the elections after announcing them was against the Supreme Court rulings and wondered a precedent was being sought to be set by the government. He also charged the government of manufacturing excuse to postpone the elections, which was strongly refuted by the Chief Minister.
Mr Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco told the House that the government should allow the elections to be held at the earliest and the changes sought to be brought in by the government could be implemented from the next year onwards. [NT]