From stating ‘I had the highest respect for Parrikar’ to alleging that ‘the current government is a continuation of corruption and bad governance’; Independent MLA of Fatorda Vijai Sardesai speaks to GoaChronicle.com….
GC: Why choose the role of Opposition when you could have joined the current government. I am sure a politician of your caliber has well-wishers in BJP, locally and in Delhi?
VS: I had never intended to align with BJP and neither did anyone locally or from Delhi approach me. I would never betray the mandate that the people of Fatorda have given me by joining BJP. Being in the Opposition was a personal choice. I felt instinctively that a government that gets an absolute mandate to govern at times can allow that power to corrupt or influence them; I therefore preferred to be in the Opposition to keep the government in check so that they work in the interest of the people of Goa and not be amongst those MLAs (foot-soldiers) who just sing praises about the leadership and governance without understanding its true impact on the people. If on some issues I am the sole-opposition then so be it.
GC: Do you think your constant media attacks on the CM and his governance has changed the functioning of the government?
VS: I suppose he prefers to treat me as a barking rabid dog; hoping that at some point of time, I will get tired and stop. But to me it is important that the people are made aware of the continuance of corrupt and bad governance from the previous regime to the current regime.
GC: What do you mean by continuance of corruption and bad governance?
VS: The corruption that existed in the Congress regime is further continuing in the BJP regime and in some cases getting sealed by the Parrikar-led government. It is shocking that the same politicians who ruled the roost in the previous regime continue to do the same in the current regime. The nexus continues between a select group of politicians who always pull wool over the eyes of the people. It is time for the people understand this hidden nexus.
GC: Can you elaborate on your statement of a nexus and continuation of corruption?
VS: Let’s take the Dabolim Airport land acquisition case in question; the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar when he was the Leader of Opposition had on the Floor of the House (Assembly) alleged that the de-notification was a scam. Today, he sings a different tune on the issue. Knowingly fully well about the need for the parking at the Dabolim Airport, he still chose to manipulate the processes in favor of the owner and developer who bought the land. Thereby virtually sealing the scam for those of the previous regime with probable benefits for his government as well.
GC: Do you see a nexus of corruption in the mining scam as well?
VS: The mere fact that the person who throughout the Congress regime shouted vehemently about illegal mining in the state. When in power, he chose to openly declare in the Assembly that there is no illegal mining in the state just irregular mining. There is no doubt that current government in particular the Chief Minister is hand-in-glove with the mining lobby. There has been a Rs 35000 crore scam as estimated by the Shah Commission report, has the government even moved a step to try and recover the loss for government exchequer caused by the mining companies. Personally, I don’t see that happening, because the CM is hand-in-glove with the mining lobby.
GC: Coming to the Dabolim Airport land issue? Why has that suddenly gained significance now. You never raised your voice when in Congress?
VS: I was in the same position as Dr Wilfred Mesquitha (BJP Vice-President and Spokesperson) is today; where he cannot talk on the Dabolim Airport issue, even though he feels strongly about it. As being part of the Congress, I too was restricted by party guidelines. Today, I am an independent therefore I have a right to speak without any reservation or party dictates.
It appears that there is a deliberate attempt being made to subtly dilute the importance of the Dabolim Airport and lay emphasis on the Mopa Airport. It is no secret that many companies with links with national political parties in particular BJP have bought large tracts around Mopa and Coastal Maharashtra. The idea appears to be to slowly shift focus out of Goa and into the Konkan region of Maharashtra. It is very similar to the NCR region syndrome like Gurgaon; you will find SEZs, large tourism projects and even the proposed film city coming out in this region. And if that does happen, Goa will just be used as a footstool to climb. If Mopa comes up as in the intention behind the long term plan of major players of business and real estate, then South Goa economy and tourism will be finished for sure. One just needs to look at the business houses that have brought land around the area. Quite clearly, Matany Saldanha was strongly opposing Mopa airport, because he foresaw what was in-store for Goa; today it his own government that is taking Goa in that direction.
GC: You have accused this government of promoting its ‘Saffron’ agenda in governance. Could you elaborate?
VS: The government is keen to remove those employees who got jobs in the previous regime, bringing allegations that it was scam; the same has been done with the employees of NREGA. This has been done to put in employees from their own BJP cadre. You will notice the same in the transfers of police-officers as well; those who are BJP sympathizers are transferred to good postings. Even the so-called flagship scheme of the BJP government ‘Laadli Laxmi’ scheme was meant to given to people from the BJP constituencies first. It appears that the Goan tax-payers are paying for the government of the BJP, for the BJP and by the BJP and their cadres. Even senior government postings has followed a similar pattern of appeasing BJP sympathizers rather than on merit.
GC: You were a politician who always had a good word to say about Parrikar in the past and even looked up to him, what has changed?
VS: I had held high respect for Parrikar but I still hope that the Parrikar of the Opposition comes out in the interest of the people of Goa. The CM-Parrikar of today has lost the essence of what made him a special political leader. He is nothing more than a man of U-Turns on almost every single issue he had raised. And sometimes I feel that this is not Parrikar but a puppet that is now being controlled by the powerful business lobbies who are strongly associated with BJP at the Centre or in the commercial capital of India – Mumbai. Even if he wants to hold good to the promises he has made to the people of state, he will not be able to do much; because the high-power wheeling dealing that other BJP members are doing in Delhi and Mumbai, which will not allow him to bring any changes he wants to bring.
Even before things are decided locally, players in Delhi and Mumbai decide the outcome.
Let me give you an example, a real estate developer from Mumbai was project in South Goa ran through trouble waters, has now being lured back into the state real estate seen, wherein the government plans to give them some land to construct their project.
It is either that or he has fooled the people of Goa with his promises – lock, stock and barrel.
GC: No toppling of the government is possible without your involvement. Are you working towards toppling this government?
VS: The people of Goa have given the mandate to this government. I strongly believe that people get the government they deserve. So now that they voted for this government without considering all factors and with a majority; they should experience the good and bad of this governance. Until then they will not realize whether it is a good decision or mistake. But today people are realizing the under-currents of this government and if there were to be an election sometime soon, the results would not have been favorable to the ruling dispensation. So I think we should let this government deliver on its promises, failing which, people can decide on their future.