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Goa Election 2022 Exclusive: 'Goans do not want someone from Delhi or West Bengal to come and rule the state'

In the exclusive interview, former Goa chief minister and MLA Digambar Kamat lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress, stating that Goans would not allow outsiders to rule them.

Goa Election 2022 Exclusive Interview with former CM Digambar Kamat on Congress exits and TMC, AAP
Panaji, First Published Dec 25, 2021, 9:36 AM IST
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The Congress party was recently hit by a spate of desertions in Goa, which will go to poll in early 2022. The party has been trying to put forth a strong face despite 15 out of its 17 sitting MLAs quitting and joining other parties. To understand what went wrong in the Goa unit of Congress, Asianet Newsable's Yacoob spoke to former Goa chief minister and MLA Digambar Kamat. In the exclusive interview, Kamat also lashed out at the Aam Aadmi Party and the Trinamool Congress, stating that Goans would not allow outsiders to rule them. Read on ...

Until a year ago, the Congress party held an advantage over the BJP. Today that does not seem to be the case. What went wrong?

Unlike last time (2012), people in Goa had not given a clear mandate. We got only 17 (seats) plus one. Unfortunately, we could not form a government. The BJP tried everything and formed the government even though it did not have the majority mark of 21 (seats to form the government); it had only 13 members. Our leaders have already apologized to the people of Goa for not being able to form a government at that time. This time, we will ensure that we do not repeat the same and ensure that the mandate is given in favour of Congress. We also have said that those who have deserted the Congress party will not be taken back.

Will TMC and AAP fielding candidates hurt Congress in the forthcoming elections?

Personally, I do not think that way because Congress has the base across the state. Even if we don't have MLAs, there is a strong base in 40 constituencies. The Aam Aadmi Party has just entered; they do not have any base. They do not have any workers. They do not have a committee, and they do not have anybody. They are just offering something to people and taking them. People in Goa have realized that what the TMC and AAP are doing is wrong. They (Goans) do not want someone from Delhi and West Bengal to come and rule the state. They think 'Goans should rule Goa'.

Congress in Goa is now facing a herculean task after 15 MLA broke away. How is the party planning to find candidates for the election?

MLAs may have gone, but our workers are all intact. Our vote base is intact. There is no damage to that. We have fixed criteria. Block committees recommend the name, and it goes to the district committee, and there is a procedure. We will see to it that loyalty to the party is given preference.

Leaders defecting during the election is a common thing. But did you expect almost all MLA to leave the party? What could be the reason?

What is the issue? It does not make any difference. People are with Congress, and workers are there in Congress. Whoever goes, goes. It does not make any difference.

Many MLAs who quit and joined the TMC said they believe in Mamata Banerjee's leadership. What is your take?

Today one former MLA who joined the TMC has resigned. Two days ago, another MLA who joined TMC came back. So these are the things that are going on in the TMC. We do not know what will happen till the election. 

How confident are Congress and its ally Goa Forward Party of making an impact in the 2022 election?

The basic perception is that all should come together to defeat the BJP. People have decided not to bring BJP to power again, and they will not make that mistake. For that, they think opposition parties should try to talk to each other and come to some consensus. This is the perception of the people of Goa. Keeping this in mind, Goa Forward Party and Congress have come to an understanding.

Have you decided on the seat-sharing formula? How many seats do you plan to give for your alliance partner?

That will be decided mutually.

Former Goa Chief Minister Churchill Alemao, who recently switched to TMC from the NCP, claimed that the Congress party cheated the NCP after waiting endlessly for an alliance. How do you respond to this claim?

(Laughs) First of all, the alliance does not happen one year before the elections. The alliance will be discussed three to four months before the elections. And before the alliance with NCP could be decided, suddenly they joined TMC and now what right has he got to talk about the alliance?

Why did Congress not go in for a tie-up with the NCP?

NCP? There is only one MLA and only seat, and now that fellow has joined the TMC. But still, our leaders are in talks with them. We are trying to see whether some seats can be allocated to them, and discussions are in progress.

On what issues will Congress contest the Goa election?

There are hundreds of issues that this government has failed to address. Be it Covid management in which 2500 people died and out of which 400 died only due to shortage of oxygen. Lokayukta has passed a total of 21 orders in matters of corruption for prosecution, and no action has been taken. Mahadayi river has been sold to Karnataka despite both state and central governments being ruled by BJP. Job rackets are going on. Their own MLAs made allegations that Rs 30 lakh to Rs 40 lakh is being charged for an engineer's post and a constable's post. There are several issues, and there is no question of a shortage of topics. We will take up these issues.

If there is a hung assembly post-election, will Congress join hands with TMC or AAP?

All such decisions are taken up at the highest leadership level (Party high command)

Who will be Goa's CM's face from Congress?

Congress party has not decided till today. Sometimes, we do not declare the face. It will be determined after the election, and it is left to party leaders (High Command).

Also Read: Uttarakhand Election 2022 Exclusive: 'BJP has fulfilled all promises; Congress failed as an Opposition

For more Goa Election-related stories, CLICK HERE

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