In yet another setback to the Congress, party leader and former sports minister Manohar (Babu) Azgaonkar Sunday joined the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP). Goa Cricket Association (GCA) secretary Vinod (Balu) Phadke also joined the MGP on Sunday.
Both, Azgaonkar and Phadke were welcomed into MGP by party leaders Ramakrishna (Sudin) Dhavalikar and Pandurang (Deepak) Dhavalikar at a simple ceremony held in Panaji. Hundreds of supporters of Azgaonkar from Pernem and of Phadke from Mapusa constituencies also joined the MGP.
Addressing the media, Azgaonkar said that both, the Congress and BJP are national parties and that he has realised that both the parties were not interested in the development and progress of Goa.
Azgaonkar, who has switched his political allegiance several times, started his career in Congress. He then joined BJP. Later, he returned to Congress. According to sources, Azgaonkar will contest the forthcoming state assembly election against present Panchayat Minister and Pernem MLA Rajendra Arlekar.
Replying to a question on why he quit Congress party and whether he had realised that Congress would deny him ticket even though he was in the selection committee, Azgaonkar, however, said that he was on top of that list. He said it was Manohar Parrikar, who played politics and ousted him from BJP.
Stating that BJP has fooled the people of Goa and destroyed the fabric of the state, Azgaonkar said Goan youth are suffering today. “MGP, which is a regional party, will protect the interest of Goan culture, language and identity,” he said. While branding the BJP as an upper class party and stating that Congress party is meant only for the rich and the well-to-do people, he said that the poor people have no role to play and no say in these parties and added that only the MGP can deliver good governance in Goa.
“Though Ramakrishna Dhavalikar is from an upper caste, he, however, is identified with the bahujan samaj. The future of Goa and Goans is safe in the hands of MGP, which will protect the interests of the state,” said Azgaonkar.
Stating that the BJP used the MGP, the former panchayat minister said that only Dhavalikar has the capacity to run government in the state like Bhausaheb Bandodkar, who, he said, brought only two industries to the state. “But now they (BJP) have a vision to bring in only outsiders in big projects,” he said. “MGP is in our blood and we are grassroots level workers. We want to see it coming to power once again and ruling the state again like Bhausaheb Bandodkar did,” Azgaonkar said and added that Bandodkar has left footprints of good governance in Goa.
Stating that his whole family was with the MGP party except for him, Phadke said he had now joined the party so as to bring back all those people, who had severed their ties with the party since the last several years in Mapusa.