Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday said a number of political parties had descended on Goa ahead of the Assembly polls but only a “responsible political party” like the BJP can give the state a stable government. “The BJP only says what it can do. We don’t make false promises,” he said.
On his maiden trip to campaign for the BJP in the poll-bound state, Shah said that he had seen hoardings of various political parties including those put up by the Trinamool Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Congress and some other parties in the state.
“Can someone come from Delhi and Kolkata and develop Goa?” Shah said at a gathering in Sanvordem in south Goa on Sunday evening. “Can the AAP give stability? At the most they may get one MLA or God knows what. Can the TMC do it? They are all unstable,” said Shah.
“I don’t know why all the parties from the country have descended on tiny Goa? I want to tell Goa’s voters that there can be development only when there is stability… Can these small parties, parties from other states, give Goa development? Do they understand your problems? Do they have solutions to these?” Shah said at an indoor gathering in Ponda. “No party has come here to give a stable government. Someone wants to be an all-India political party, needs some votes so gather them from Goa, somebody wants to open their account… they can’t form a government. Only the BJP can form the government and that is why we need your blessings,” Shah said.
“All these parties that have come, please ask them, what have they come to give Goa? They seek votes from the people of Goa but ask them what their development plan for Goa is? There is nothing on the agenda. We will give this; we will give that… Why will they be stingy with promises when they are not going to win any seats? They make all the promises because they know they won’t get any seats and they won’t have to do anything,” Shah said.
He said, “Look at their whole manifesto? Making a road? No. Will they get a new airport? No. Expansion of the shipyard? No. Enhancing the cell phone tower network? No. Industries? No. Promises and only promises. You know who I am talking about, don’t you? They are making tall promises because they know there is going to be no government here and they don’t have to fulfill any of these promises.”
During his trip, Shah visited the Shri Sai Baba temple in Borim, campaigned door-to-door and addressed public rallies in Sanvordem and Ponda. Notably, in Ponda, the BJP has fielded former Chief Minister Ravi Naik, who quit the Congress to join the saffron party last month.
With Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Shah also walked from one home to another in south Goa’s Sanvordem assembly constituency, distributing leaflets to voters and urging them to vote for the lotus symbol. “Kamal ko vote dena,” he told families from the assembly constituency.
In Ponda, he said remembering late defence minister and former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, “He was such a leader who had given Goa a name not only in the country but all over the world. Parrikarji laid the foundation of development here where Dr Pramod Sawant is now constructing a strong building.” Shah also said that Sawant was trying to live up to Parrikar’s dream of creating a “Golden Goa”.
Shah’s remarks come at a time when Parrikar’s son, Utpal Parrikar, has parted ways with the BJP to contest the upcoming poll as an Independent candidate from Panaji. MLAs including former minister Micheal Lobo, Alina Saldanha, Carlos Almeida and Pravin Zantye, had left the BJP ahead of the polls and switched parties saying the BJP in Goa no longer felt like the party Parrikar had built.
Attacking the Congress, Shah said that Goa’s voters would have to choose between a “Golden Goa” and a “Gandhi parivar ka Goa”. Shah said, “For us Goa is Golden Goa and for the Congress, Goa is the Goa of Gandhi Parivar. Their leaders take a lot of vacations. They need a vacation spot. You tell me, Golden Goa chahiye ya parivar ka Goa chahiye?”
He said that under the Congress-led government at the Centre prior to 2014, Goa was allocated Rs 432 crore in the annual budget and in the last budget of 2021, the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi had allocated Rs 2,567 crore for Goa.
He said that major infrastructure projects like the Atal Setu, the Zuari Bridge and the Mopa International Airport were possible in the state only because of the “double engine” BJP government at the Centre and the state. He said that the former Congress government led by then chief minister Digambar Kamat, had nothing to show under the name of infrastructure development in Goa.
“Can Digambar Kamat do this (development)? Rahul Baba won’t allow it. He will fear that Modiji will be popular, let it be. He does not care about Goa’s development. He has developed Modiphobia… Achcha hi hai Rahul Baba, aap Modi, Modi hi karte rahiye. Look at his tweets. You won’t see one positive tweet. Such people cannot give development to Goa,” Shah said.
He also said that the mining in Goa would resume with double the energy as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had already done the groundwork to set up a mineral corporation and transparent auctions would soon be held to restart the sector in Goa. The closure of mining after the Supreme Court’s 2018 order had led to a loss of several jobs in the state.
He also said that by doing away with Article 370, the Modi government had fully integrated Jammu and Kashmir as a part of India. He said that the country voted Modi once again and “chutki baja ke” Article 370 came to an end. He said that under the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government at the Centre, “Any aalia, maalia, jamaalia would come from Pakistan and behead our soldiers” and not a brow would be furrowed in Delhi. This, he said, had changed after Prime Minister Modi took over the reins since the government had put a check on cross-border violence.