BJP senior leader, Former Party President and Former Speaker of Goa Assembly, Rajendra Arlekar in conversation with Founder & Editor-in-Chief of GoaChronicle.com, Savio Rodrigues on the current controversy in Goa about a change in leadership in the BJP-led alliance government and his views on the current position of BJP in Goa and Centre in the run-up to Lok Sabha 2019…
GC: As a senior leader of BJP do you think the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar should step down from his position as Chief Minister of Goa? Do you see his illness and absenteeism as worrisome factors in governance in the state?
RA: There is no question of change of leadership in Goa. Manohar Parrikar before his illness and with his illness is a man committed to the people of Goa and the promises made by the BJP its manifesto. It is unfortunate that he has an ailment, for which he is being treated. We must at this moment not question his commitment to governance, he is doing his best with his current ailment. I do not see which aspect of governance has failed in the state, when he has been away. He has all taken precautionary measures to ensure that governance continues.
GC: Is BJP having a leadership crisis in Goa, therefore their dependent of only Manohar Parrikar and cannot find a replacement for him to manage state-affairs?
RA: Let me reiterate this clearly. There is no question of change of leadership because there is no need for a change of leadership. If there is a need for a change of leadership the Core Committee in Goa and BJP National Party will take the appropriate decision. BJP is not bereft leaders in the party or from the elected Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs). We are a cadre based party with an organisational structure of functioning. At the right moment party selects its leaders.
GC: Grapevine has been rife with rumours of Congress leaders joining BJP, in particular Digambar Kamat – the former Chief Minister of Goa from the Congress?
RA: I am not aware of any discussion within the BJP Goa Core team of any Congress leaders joining BJP. These rumours are being fuelled by some politicians in an attempt to create confusion in the minds of the people of Goa. These rumours of toppling the government often comes up, when Parrikar is away from Goa. So one must not read too much into such frivolous rumours.
GC: But if Congress leaders want to join BJP, would BJP say no?
RA: We are not averse to any person joining BJP to enhance the party base in the state. Each case is evaluated based on merit of the individual wanting to join the party.
GC: Recently a few members of the BJP Core Committee wanted to raise the issue of ‘alternate leadership’ due to Parrikar’s ill-health and absenteeism with the Central Leadership in Delhi. However, BJP National President refrained from meeting them without the entire Core Team from Goa being present? Why were Laxmikant Parsekar, Dayanand Mandrekar, Damodar Naik and you not a part of that discussion?
RA: Any change of leadership in Goa will be the decision of the entire BJP Core team in consolation with the BJP Central Leadership. If some members of the Core Team wanted to meet BJP National President to share their views in their individual capacity or as part of the Core Team, it is not a sin. Eventual, BJP Central Leadership and BJP Core Committee together will take a decision on issue regarding the party or government. The reason we were not included, I suppose was because it was not a decision of the entire Core Team just a few members who wanted to share their views.
GC: BJP’s performance and political clout in Goa appears to be on a decline. It looks like BJP will lose South Lok Sabha seat and North Goa Lok Sabha seat is shaky? Do you see BJP improving in the coming months in time for LS 2019?
RA: People voted for BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister of India and also because the Goa leaders were respected, committed and non-corrupt. In the last four years the government at the Centre has worked tirelessly to achieve ‘Sabka Ka Saath, Sabka Vikas’. From welfare schemes to health schemes, BJP is reaching out to every Indian to encourage them to work towards a ‘New India’. India is moving steadily and confidently ahead as a nation of promise and prosperity. Goa has benefited from BJP in the Centre with special focus on various infrastructural and industry-related sectors which has a resultant positive effect on the economy and society. So when people make predictions of performances such BJP will lose South Goa or is shaky in North Goa, we must take it with a pinch of salt. Just as we are aware of our strengths, we are also aware of our shortcomings and we are working in getting better so that Goa reaches new heights in growth and economic activity as a state in India. Narendra Modi is leading this nation to a new and vibrant India.
GC:BJP lacks focus on its youth in Goa. Not many youth faces in the spotlight in Goa unlike the Congress that are putting forward new faces in the state as spokespersons?
RA: BJP is not about individual faces it is about collective leadership and team work. Our youth are the backbone and future of our party in the state. You will see a new, strong and vibrant leadership emerging out of our young youth leaders in Goa in the months to come. Politics is a commitment and a continuous learning. We as senior leaders fervently believe that we must continuously work with our youth to instil in them a passion for the nation and party. Raising youth to levels of excellence in a party organisation is like raising a child to achieve success and follow the principles of the party.