The memorandum by AIMTC president Bal Malkit Singh to BJP leaders says, The positive image of the BJP is being dented by the government of Goa's myopic hindsight mired in extreme arrogance and egoistic stance that has already irked the conscience of 12,00,00,000 transporters and bus operators of the country who are braving the stiff entry tax in Goa at acute personal loss.

But the transporters appear to be frustrated (which is also why they have approached the BJP leadership) because there has been no unanimity in boycotting Goa. The response to their strike, which resumed on May 12 after a break (they had gone on a strike soon after the entry tax now called toll fee was implemented on April 15), has been lukewarm. AIMTC leaders even failed to get an audience with Parrikar and transport minister, Ramakrishna Dhavalikar. Hence their appeal seeking abolition of the toll fee to whom they think are Parrikar's masters, saying "We suggest and request that you provide some prudent advice to the chief minister of Goa."

Parrikar on top

Parrikar is already scenting victory with bus owners deciding not to join the strike. Paulo group of companies managing director Mario Pereira has been quoted as saying, "We got a positive response from the chief minister who heard our demands and promised to look into them. That seems to tie in with transporters accusing him of creating a rift between them. Their counter has been to threaten that no vehicles will be allowed into Goa."

What has ticked off transporters is Parrikar's observation that if not supplies from Kolhapur, his government would get it from Bangalore, Pune, Indore or even Gujarat. What has also worried them is his open threat to use the 25,000 trucks, now idling because of the closure of the mining sector, to bring in essential supplies.

To reasonable transporters, who continue to come into Goa - according to him 50 came in on Monday - he says that while announcing the entry tax in his budget last year, he had made a provision to give concessionary passes and he would stick to it.

But the good news is that the government has made a collection of Rs 8,80,000 daily since entry tax was imposed. Of this, around half came from six-wheleers who have to pay Rs 1,000 to come into Goa, a point in the government's favour when it argues that there is no impact on supplies.

We Say

This is a clever move by transporters because the BJP is looking towards elections 2014 and is not about to annoy any section of voters. Even if anti-incumbency, corruption and a host of other issues fells the UPA, the BJP may or may not be a beneficiary in the fractured polity of the country. So every vote will count. And traders have traditionally voted BJP which makes transporters 'their' voters and therefore indulgence is required in handling them.

However, the other argument is that after the drubbing in Karnataka assembly elections last week, the leadership would walk on eggshells around its CMs lest they get taught the lesson former Karnataka CM B S Yeddyurappa handed to them last week by being the chief architect behind the party losing its only state in south India.

The AIMTC is transparent about its motives to get the BJP leadership to lean on Parrikar. So, its laying it on really thick. Else why would the memorandum talk about the BJP's 'positive image'? So soon after the thrashing it got in Karnataka? So soon after yet another Parliament session ended with BJP MP's not allowing it to function? Not to mention the internecine squabbles among its leaders about who will be the face of the party in the 2014 general elections. So soon after its president, Nitin Gadkari, was virtually divested of the post overnight amidst corruption charges? So, given this murky scenario, would Parrikar bow down particularly when his masters are in Nagpur?

One cannot help thinking that the All India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC), may have overreached itself by hinting at Parrikar's "extreme arrogance" and "egoistic stance" in their memorandum to BJP leaders. While many would agree that Parrikar has both these attributes in generous measure, if transporters were looking to placate him, this is not the way.

The vehemence against the toll fee bears out Parrikar's argument earlier that even a car which has to pay Rs 250 to enter Goa can earn this money back by filing just 12 litres of petrol, because fuel is cheaper in Goa than other states. And if the owner fills his entire 40 litre tank, then he gains Rs 640. So a four-wheeler paying Rs 500 and six-wheeler paying Rs 1000 as entry tax would gain much more. And in any case, why all the noise when they are going to pass on the tax to the consumer anyway. Moreover, all the gains they can make on buying liquor in this state should make them says "cheers" loudly!

"Who are these people from Bangalore or Kolhapur to tell me what to do for Goa? People of Goa have elected me and it is my fundamental right to levy toll fee," he says. But Parrikar, who claims there is no impact on supplies, should know that many vegetables are selling for Rs 60 a kilo and therefore consumers are impacted.