Panaji, May 3 (IANS) In developments which could raise questions about Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant's grip over administration, ruling and opposition MLAs as well as individual village panchayats over the last 24 hours have announced a series of sporadic lockdowns in their respective areas, even as the government-enforced four-day lockdown wound to a close on Monday.
The sporadic 'voluntary' lockdowns, which involve closure of businesses and commercial establishments, are in defiance of Sawant's recent public appeals, in which the Chief Minister has repeatedly insisted that a lockdown was not an ideal option to tackle the menacing spread of Covid-19, as it severely impacts the state economy.
On Monday, hours after the government-enforced lockdown ended, at least three village panchayats have resolved to impose a lockdown in their own jurisdictions.
Other lockdowns have also been announced by BJP MLA Joshua De Souza, who has appealed for a closure of the popular Mapusa market and Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat who has appealed for the municipal market in Margao, in South Goa, to go under lockdown for at least a week.
"I have a responsibility towards the people of Mapusa and their best interests are my utmost priority. The government has enforced restrictions till May 10 and we should now do our bit towards a voluntary lockdown in light of the rising covid cases," De Souza said, adding that the lockdown would help break the chain of Covid-19 infections which have reached a record high in the coastal state.
The Mapusa Merchants Association has supported De Souza's call for the lockdown till May 10.
"My responsibility as MLA of Margao constituency is to ensure safety of Madgaonkars. I had urged for extension of lockdown in Goa but the government refused. My humble request to Madgaonkars is to go for voluntary lockdown for a week from tomorrow to help in our fight against #Covid," Kamat said, adding that he had spoken to the merchants association in Margao town, who have agreed to co-operate with him.
Michael Lobo, the Ports Minister in the Sawant cabinet, has already enforced a lockdown in three villages in his jurisdiction, which includes the popular beach villages of Candolim and Calangute, which serve as the engines of Goa's mass-based tourism economy.
Even Opposition MLA Rohan Khaunte, a legislator from Porvorim, a Panaji suburb, has also called for a lockdown in two village panchayat jurisdictions, which are in his control.
"The world is going through precarious times right now. As a response to the rising cases in Porvorim, the villages of Salvador Do Mundo and Penha De Franca have voluntarily opted for a 15 day lockdown. I urge each one of you to co-operate with us to contain the spread and come together so that we can come out of this crisis stronger," Khaunte said.
The sporadic lockdowns have come as an embarrassment for the ruling BJP, especially at a time when the party's government has been criticised for mishandling the ongoing Covid-19 management efforts.
"These lockdowns question the very base of government leadership. The state administration has to crack down on these self-imposed lockdowns, which are challenging the authority of the state, especially in times of crisis," a senior BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The four-day lockdown, which ended on Monday morning, was imposed by Sawant in wake of a steep spike in Covid-19 cases in the state. There are currently 24,607 active cases reported in Goa.