CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Dr Palanivel Thiaga Rajan (PTR) has his style of rebuttal. His response to Goa Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho’s allegations was another arrow from his quiver. The charge was that PTR had “insulted the people of Goa” in the GST Council meeting by opposing Godinho’s request for preferential treatment to smaller states like Goa in levying compensation cess. Godinho made the allegations after the meeting on May 28 and asked PTR to apologise to Goans.
Hours later, the DMK MLA fired a salvo by releasing a ‘Statement to the People of Goa’ on his Twitter account. Within minutes, it elicited a huge response not only in his own turf but also from Goans. The statement read, “I have no need to apologise to the people of Goa, for I have done you no harm. In fact, I have strongly advocated for your State government’s rights. I do not require or expect any thanks for that as my position was dictated by my principles of strengthening States’ rights and federalism with enhanced devolution.”
Terming the allegations baseless lies. “There was no agenda item regarding Goa’s intention to levy any cess, so I simply could not have voted at all on an agenda item that did not exist, let alone vote against it,” PTR said, slamming the Goa minister for opposing a plea to reduce GST on Covid-related drugs and vaccines from five per cent to zero. The statement addressed to Goan voters also alleged that Godinho’s statements on their behalf had been “highly repetitive, largely vacuous, hectoring, mostly redundant to others’ inputs, supercilious, and devoid of the basic courtesy of assuming good faith in the comments of other states’ Ministers.”
PTR went on to address Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and said that “I offer you my condolences for having such a person as your Minister. I also charge the Honorable CM of Goa with perpetrating a misdemeanour of Goa’s citizens, and the GST council, by nominating him to represent your beautiful State...”
In his open letter to PTR, Goa-based writer and photographer Vivek Menezes said: “You should know it has been greatly dismaying for us, for many years, that Goa’s political cadre machinates almost exclusively in opaque, inexplicable, and often indefensible ploys. Thus, you have done an excellent service by describing how your counterpart from India’s smallest State ‘was vociferously, and repeatedly, against lowering the GST on Covid-related drugs... we are convinced the people of your great state are lucky to have you fighting for their interests. We hope that you will keep ours in mind as well.” Vivek’s letter was published in Goa-based daily.
Former CPI Goa state secretary Christopher Fonseca told Express, “That spat should not be given much importance. There are many issues concerning people now. One thing is sure, PTR has raised issues of proportional representation in the GST Council and whether small and bigger states should have the equal vote. These are issues that need to be pondered very seriously.”