Q: How do you see the recent political developments? Two of your MLAs were lured away, and you lost your job as a deputy chief minister.
‘Vinaasha kaale vipareetha Buddhi’! The BJP has axed its own feet… On the one hand, BJP leaders call themselves chawkidars, while on the other hand, they carry out dacoities on other political parties. The people of Goa had soft-corner and a lot of hopes from Manohar Parrikar. Considering this we had joined hands with the BJP after the 2017 assembly elections to form a coalition government. At that time Babu Azgaonkar had come to me with an proposal from the Congress, which had offered the post of chief minister to me and the post of deputy chief minister to Babu. There was a plan to give eight cabinet berths to Congress MLAs and three berths to the MGP. But after I spoke to Manohar Parrikar and Nitin Gadkari, I convinced Babu Azgaonkar on the formation of a BJP-led government. None of the present BJP leaders were involved in forming the coalition government.
Q: How much the recent political developments will cause damage to the BJP?
The outcome of the ensuing elections will speak for itself. Goans have seen what BJP’s new leaders have been doing. The MGP had reaffirmed its support to the BJP in continuing with the government after Parrikar’s death. But still the BJP robbed the MGP of its two MLAs, and removed me from the state cabinet. Was that necessary? They should think over it again.
Q: Do you regret for not accepting the Congress offer of 2017?
If I assess the current political situation and the behaviour of the BJP leaders towards us then I must say: I do regret. When we had extended our support to the BJP government in 2017, we had a dream to serve the people of Goa to the best of our efforts…
Q: The MGP has always been a natural ally of the BJP. What went wrong between the two parties after the Parrikar’s demise?
After the Parrikar’s demise, BJP, as a political party, and its leaders are losing the moral base on which the party has grown in the state… I feel that the BJP is completely against small parties especially of like-minded ideologies, thoughts and moorings. They don’t want small parties to grow. Their recent moves have proved this.
Q: Is the MGP decision to contest the Shiroda bypoll the only reason for the recent discordance in the tie-up with the BJP? Or are there more reasons behind this rift?
It has not been just about the Shiroda bypoll. The state BJP is playing the politics of divide and rule: they are concentrating on luring MLAs away from other parties, which is very bad… The MGP had already started working in Shiroda against the then Congress leader. Soon after the 2017 assembly elections Deepak Dhavalikar had expressed his concerns over the possibility that the Priol constituency might be reserved for ST community. Hence we had looked at the Shiroda assembly segment as the second option. We had discussed this with Manohar Parrikar and Nitin Gadkari. I had assured them that Deepak Dhavalikar would surely win the Shiroda seat as the Congress has been losing its ground there. And they had agreed to the move. But suddenly the state BJP lured away the Congress MLA without taking us – coalition partners – into confidence. And this led to the beginning of the rift between the two parties…
Q: Who is behind this episode of poaching of your MLAs and your removal from the cabinet?
The state BJP is totally responsible for this, as central members do not know these local MLAs, and they do not know the impact the merger will have on the state politics.
Q: Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has claimed that you failed to follow the common minimum programme.
My dear Chief Minister, you are a new person in administration. So concentrate on giving good governance to the people. I am saying this because who would get in the common minimum programme in seven days? We in the past had planned a common minimum programme. I myself and Vijai Sardesai had given our plans to Manohar Parrikar in 2017. But nobody knows the fate of those suggestions…
Q: What will be your future course of action?
Rebuilding the MGP from grassroots level will be our top priority.
Q: Will the MGP contest all assembly bypolls and the Lok Sabha elections as well?
The party is yet to decide on contesting the other assembly bypolls… decision is likely to be taken soon. As far as the Lok Sabha elections are concerned, MGP’s central committee’s meeting will be held before April 7 to decide on the matter.
Q: Will the MGP campaign against the BJP candidates at the elections?
I don’t need to work or campaign against the BJP in the present situation. The people of Goa have seen through the behaviour and lies of the BJP leaders, which will cause the defeat of their candidates. People themselves will teach them a lesson. Secondly, the MGP is still with the BJP, as we have not withdrawn our support extended to the party while forming the government. A decision on this matter will be taken before April 7.
Q: How do you look at the Pramod Sawant government?
Pramod Sawant is a good person, and I had assured him my full support. But in the present scenario, I don’t know how he will work by taking coalition partners together… financial condition of the state has been very bad. Recently the state took a bond for Rs 300 crore. Secondly, I feel that there are some technical issues vis-à-vis the MGP MLAs’ defection to the BJP… The MLAs did not follow the right procedures while breaking away from the parent party…