Panaji, The summer of 2018 has left Goa’s politicians sweating with worry, with five legislators, including Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, taking ill with serious ailments.
The first legislator to take ill in the season was Parrikar himself, who first complained of stomach pain on February 15, before he was shifted to a US hospital for treatment for advanced pancreatic cancer.
The 62-year-old former Defence Minister has been hospitalised on three occasions in Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital and the Goa Medical College here. Although party leaders claim that he is expected to arrive in Goa later this month, similar assurances made by BJP leaders over the last three months haven’t come through.
The second legislator to fall ill was Vasco legislator Carlos Almeida of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who suffered a brain stroke on March 8, which has left him partially paralysed. Almeida, according to a senior BJP leader. is currently undergoing treatment at an Ayurveda resort in Kerala.
“His health is improving now. Carlos is taking ayurvedic treatment in Kerala. We are confident of his return soon,” said the BJP leader who did not want to be identified.
Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza, BJP’s seniormost legislator after Parrikar, has also been suffering from renal complications and has already left for Europe on a ‘holiday’ last week, even as the party is mum about the health situation of the outfit’s most senior Catholic face in Goa.
Like D’Souza, Congress MLA from Canacona Isidore Fernandes has also undergone surgery last week for a kidney-related ailment.
But the sudden brain-stroke suffered by Pandurang Madkaikar — Power Minister in the BJP-led coalition government — following a summer plagued by unprecedented power cuts, which even forced a sick Parrikar to call the minister and reprimand him from the US, really appears to have psyched netas in the coastal state.
“Madkaikar was a fit person. He would spend two hours in the gym, watch what he ate. It is simply shocking that he suffered a brain stroke,” a cabinet minister said.
While the state government has not issued any statement vis a vis the current health status of the minister, BJP sources said that five days after he was operated on in a Mumbai hospital, Madkaikar continues to be in coma.
For ruling Goa Forward Party’s chief spokesperson Trajano D’Mello, there is a strange divinity at work, given the rate at which politicians are developing illnesses.
“There is a divine hand in every situation. It is difficult to understand God’s ways or the divine ways. God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom,” D’Mello said.
Speaker Pramod Sawant is however, more pragmatic about failing health of lawmakers, which he attributes to stress.
“After crossing 50 years, everyone should undergo a health check-up. I will certainly advise MLAs to undergo health check-ups. They have to deal with a lot of stress. Stress from people, from work, in their constituencies. Most of the time stress induces hypertension, diabetes, etc. They should adopt yoga. That will give them relief from tension,” Sawant, an alternative medicine doctor by profession, told IANS.
Sawant also said that MLAs suffering from illnesses is nothing new and that it is a common occurrence in big states like Maharashtra and Karnataka.
He also said that currently all MLAs are advised medical check-ups annually at a private hospital in Panaji and all medical procedures for sitting and former MLAs are paid for by the Goa assembly.
The Goa government last year spent nearly Rs. 1.5 crore on treatment of current and former MLAs, according to official records.