In an interview with The Navhind Times after becoming the Chief Minister, Dr Pramod Sawant talks to Soiru Velip on various topics like BJP’s chances at the Lok Sabha polls and bypolls, mining issue, government stability, alliance partners and relation with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP)
Q: Elections to the Lok Sabha and bypolls in three assembly constituencies will be held soon in Goa. Taking all the issues in support of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and against the party into consideration, what is your assessment?
I have been visiting places all over Goa for the Lok Sabha poll campaigning. Besides, I have been meeting people in Mandrem, Mapusa and Shiroda constituencies where bypolls will be held on April 23. To be frank, BJP has been getting a very good response. For the last one year, there was lack of confidence among people over governance, as our former chief minister Manohar Bhai Parrikar was sick and could not reach out to the people. However, now, wherever I go, people welcome me with zeal and I can feel a new hope among them. I can also see that confidence is being regained among the people. With such an atmosphere in the state, I am very much confident that BJP will win the three assembly seats and the two parliamentary
Q: Immediately after taking over as the Chief Minister, you have faced the task of leading the party in the election campaign. How challenging has it been?
There were some issues pertaining to administration for the last one year, as Bhai was not well. So obviously, I have a challenge to streamline the administration and at the same time ensure that BJP wins all the five seats. I have supportive alliance partners, so there would not be any difficulty in overcoming any challenges.
Q: Do you feel that the people have more expectations from you as a young chief minister?
Yes, people have more expectations from my government. At the same time, there are some issues regarding regularisation of services in various departments. These issues are not new to me, as they had been raised before me when I was Speaker of the Goa Assembly and all these issues are pertaining to youth. Groups of people have been coming to meet me every day with their grievances and I have told them to wait till May 24, as the government cannot take any policy decision when the model code of conduct is in force.
Q: A section of the press reported about your observation that absence of Modi government at the Centre means no Bharatiya Janata Party government in Goa. Can you elaborate on that?
It is quite obvious that for stability of a government and for the development of a state, we need the government of the same party at the Centre and in the state. What I am trying to say is that we need Modi government again at the Centre in the interest of the state. If another party’s government comes to power at the Centre, it can disturb the pace of development in the state. I am sure that my government will complete the remaining three-year term, as coalition partners – Goa Forward Party and Independent legislators – are with me. And when we go for the state assembly election after three years, we need Modi government at the Centre.
Q: You have also said that four MLAs are waiting to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. Would that happen after the elections?
It is not like that. Some sections of the media misquoted me on that. What I had said was that we will get four more MLAs after the bypoll results which will raise the BJP’s tally to 18 from 14 in the state assembly. And with the help of coalition partners, we will be able to provide a stable government for the next three years. I had not said that four MLAs from other party are in our contact.
Q: News is being also circulated that the Goa Forward Party (GFP) legislators could be the next lot of MLAs to join the Bharatiya Janata Party? Is there a plan for a ‘surgical strike’ on the Goa Forward Party?
First of all let me clarify again that BJP has not carried out ‘surgical strike’ on Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP). Two MLAs, who recently joined BJP were uncomfortable in the Dhavalikar-led MGP, so they expressed their wish to join us and we decided to take them in our party fold. As far as GFP is concerned, I reiterate that GFP and its leader Vijai Sardesai is very close to me and BJP, thus there is no question of getting his MLAs to join our party. There will be an NDA meeting in Margao soon and Sardesai will attend it.
Q: How do you look at the stand taken by MGP for the upcoming elections and would you take back Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar in your alliance, if he returns by using his relationship with a top BJP leader at the Centre?
I am clearly telling you that Sudin Dhavalikar will not be taken back in the cabinet in the next three years. How can we take him when his MGP is openly supporting Congress party for the Lok Sabha elections and contesting bypoll in Shiroda against BJP while supporting candidates of other parties in the other two assembly constituencies. There is no question of taking back Dhavalikar in the government.
Q: Restart of mining is another issue before your government. How are you handling it since you have taken over as the Chief Minister?
My government’s stand on mining is clear. We will take a stand in the Supreme Court in the interest of the people. We believe that it (the issue) should be resolved through legal means and my government has been already working in that direction. I have appointed a special officer to look after the mining matter. There would be no delay from the government side.
Q: Now that the Enforcement Directorate and other investigating agencies are probing the issue of money laundering taking place in casinos, hasn’t the very existence of casinos in Goa become a problem, which is more serious than their shifting out of the Mandovi river?
I think it is a routine process to monitor possible money laundering cases during elections. And I feel the casino industry should cooperate with the investigating agencies, if they carry out a probe. There should not be a problem for anybody from the industry.
Q: Do you support Utpal Parrikar as Panaji candidate for the forthcoming by-election in the capital city?
My party will take the right decision on candidature for Panaji bypoll.
Source:: The Navhind Times