An Exclusive Hot Seat Interview with Vijai Sardesai.. Read on while GoaChronicle.com puts the MLA of Fatorda on a Hot Spot
GC: Allegations have been leveled against you that your claimed fight for ‘Goa’s Identity’ is a political act; reason given is that you sold a large tract of land in Curtorim where a 85-room five-star hotel is planned, but locals are objecting?
VS: I am for protection of Goan identity. But that does not mean that you stop doing legitimate and that too which can develop tourism, which today is the back bone of Goa’s economy. Has the land that I bought been sold to a promoter of a mega project who will build flats and bungalows and lead to huge influx of outsiders who will change the demography of the village? Or has it been sold to a promoter of a hotel who can give employment to the locals and also create ancillary industry by which the locals would benefit? How many hotels in Goa are owned by locals? Do we have that type of money to build resorts of international standards? But haven’t we benefitted as Goans from tourism and do we not thrive on tourism? All the same the misapprehensions of the locals and their doubts need to be addressed by the promoters of the project and the authorities before anything takes off.
GC: It is a known fact in political circles that former Congress MP Francisco Sardinha lost his ticket because of your political maneuvering? Do you see the attacks of the Sardinhas as a payback time?
VS: Does it mean that with this issue, he will be reconsidered or would he get revived politically? I am not involved with the project and have only done a legitimate business transaction and paid taxes for the same. Those who stay in glass houses should not throw stones at others! But can you shut people up? It’s a democracy that we live in and we should be ready to face criticism.
GC: Tiatrist Tousif Sheikh of the controversial play ‘Akantvadi Goent Naka’ has profusely appreciated your support and exhibited closeness to you that ‘Vijai Sardesai’ is a character against the villian, loosely based on Ram Sene’s Pramod Muthalik? Is it safe to interpret that the Tiatr is nothing but a political gimmick with back-end control in your hand?
VS: The teatro ‘Akantwadi Goeant Naka’ is against extremism and intolerance that is slowly getting established in Goan society. I have attended its first show as a symbol of solidarity to someone whose freedom of expression was sought to be thwarted by threats. I have no control and don’t intend to have any, in such matters. Teatro gives vent to what the Goan society feels on prevalent social issues. Nobody should try to control them. I would be the last to try something like this.
GC: Did you advise Tousif Sheikh to withdraw from doing the Tiatr and later on he had to accept the people’s demand? Is that true?
VS: I advise many, but I try my best not to encourage aggravating social tensions. My stand against extremist organizations trying to enforce moral policing is well known but I believe all of us owe it to Goa that we should try to not push matters where communal hatred is born. I believe that, Tousif’s decision and subsequent reconsideration were his own decisions.
GC: Your stand against the Ram Sene stems from a fear of a communal discord in the state. Do you have the same fears against Popular Front of India & SDPI also organization with a past in Muslim fundamentalism leanings?
VS: I have fears and objections against all those who wish to teach us Goans what our culture is all about. Especially when those from outside the state teach us what Goenkarponn is all about.
GC: It is interesting to note that you have never raised your voice in agitation against casinos or large-scale real estate projects such as golf courses, eco-tourism projects or even massage parlors. Are you for or against these concepts?
VS: I don’t like to be repetitive although I believe that high-end tourism needs facilities like golf courses. Spas are an international phenomena but one should regulate the trade to keep out/sieve those involved in sleaze prostitution. I am against more casinos coming in the state, for that matter I have constantly spoken against Government’s attempts to give legal recognition to Casino Maharaja and make it the latest addition to the casinos existing in the Mandovi. I don’t know how long that will stay as the Government of the day is dependent on the casinos for the revenue.
GC: ‘No to Mopa’ furore was ignited by you during the Cortalim By-Poll, then died, then rose again during Lok Sabha Election, now it appears to be dead again. It is a known fact that Centre & State plan to make Mopa a reality. What will be your stand if Mopa comes up and will you use the Mopa airport?
VS: Mopa is against Goa’s interests and the Government is hell bent on getting it without any assessment or EIA. This means the Government is against Goa’s interest. My stand against Mopa is not negotiable and as the Government says that when Mopa begins, Dabolim will also function, I will not have to use it although I find it quite implausible.