The Congress party on Sunday officially kicked off its election campaign for the Panaji by-election to be held on August 23 by performing ‘puja’ at the Panaji ferry point seeking blessings of the Mandovi.
Speaking to reporters in the city, Goa pradesh Congress committee president Shantaram Naik likened Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to Pakistan.
“Parrikar is a failed CM in the same manner that Pakistan is a failed nation. I hold Parrikar responsible for the nationalisation of Goan rivers, including river Mandovi, because it is only with his consent that the Parsekar-led BJP government had moved the files on the rivers.
Naik said that Parrikar also failed as defence minister of the country, and claimed that Parrikar played no role in any of the defence contracts and deals signed while he was the defence minister.
“None of the defence agreements have factored in the element of ‘Make in India’. He is planning to host the Defence Expo in Goa this year as well. People of Panaji know that Parrikar has taken Goa towards bankruptcy. Issues as related to regional plan, medium of instruction, mining were all created by him,” he said.
The Congress has coined two slogans – ‘Save Mandovi Vote Foe Congress’ and ‘You Can Defeat Parrikar’, but has not yet selected the slogan for the campaigning.
“We will discuss and decide on the slogan when we release our manifesto for the Panaji constituency in two days’ time,” Naik said.
Congress candidate for the Panaji by-poll and AICC secretary Girish Chodankar said that their manifestos in the past had focused on removal of casino vessels from the Mandovi.
“This has been an irresponsible government and we want to expose it. This is the reason that we have started our campaign from the ferry point. The same people who label others as anti-nationals and speak about nation first jumped at the opportunity of forming government in Goa. Parrikar relinquished the big responsibility of national defence to take over as chief minister of Goa,” he said.
Chodankar said that they have received complete support from their national leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi “to fight against Parrikar for the people of Panaji”.
Parrikar was elected from Panaji for the first time in 1994 but the issues have been hanging fire over the years, he observed adding that “people of Panaji are fed up and not happy with him because he has overturned mandate against him. There is tremendous anger against him for non-performance, for being anti-democratic and for dictatorial attitude”.
Earlier in the day, the Goa mahila pradesh Congress committee performed ‘puja’ at the Panaji ferry point to seek blessings of the Mandovi.
“We have started the campaign for Chodankar by performing puja, seeking blessings of goddess Mandovi. This river weeps under the BJP regime because it has been dirtied by the offshore casinos invited by the BJP government. We have vowed to clean and protect Mandovi and to restore its glory,” Congress secretary Swati Kerkar said.
State Mahila Congress chief Pratima Coutinho said that Panaji is witnessing two by-elections in short span of time, indicating that BJP is bothered about their own interest and is least bothered about the issues of the local public.
Chodankar was also accompanied by Opposition leader Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavalekar, Santa Cruz MLA Tony Fernandes, and other Congress workers.
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