The Bharatiya Janata Party has started preparing for the next Assembly elections due in another about 20 months. BJP’s Legislature Party leader Manohar Parrikar spoke to Goa Chronicle about the party’s strategy
What exactly is the purpose of these meetings that you are having in various constituencies?
MP: The sole purpose of these meetings, where only our party members and sympathizers are invited, is to expose the misdeeds of the present government so that they are motivated and enthused to work for the party when the elections are announced. Our aim to expose the government so that people feel the need to change it.
Are you going to have these meetings in all the constituencies?
No. We are concentrating only on those constituencies where we have a base in the form of either our MLA or a functional Mandal.
What about Salcete? Are you going to ignore it or for that matter the Catholic dominated areas of Bardez and Tiswadi.
We are yet to work out a strategy for Salcete as surely we cannot afford to ignore it. But yes, at the moment, nothing is planned for Salcete.
Don’t you think the ‘communal’ tag attached to your party is a detriment?
It is very easy to brand someone. I repeat what I have been always saying, we are not communal. In fact, when I was the Chief Minister, the minorities and particularly the Catholic community benefitted a lot and this should prove that I am not communal. No Goan can be communal and moreover I have studied in a Jesuit school and therefore cannot be communal. I really find it funny that people forget the good work so fast. The minorities and particularly the Catholic community benefitted very much during my tenure as Chief Minister.
Catholics associate your tenure with the proposal to cancel the holiday on 3rd December.
In the first place, there was never a proposal to cancel the holiday, it was misrepresentation of facts to whip up emotions. The Government Employees Association had given a list of holidays that could be cancelled and 3rd December was one of those. Having said that, why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that it was decision to make the Diocesan Education Board a permanent member of the Education Advisory Committee rather than being only an invitee – the status given to it by the Congress? Why are they not talking about the fact that due to my decision, many Catholics who were languishing in the same position for years, suddenly got promotions? There are many such things and I really get tired talking about it.
While for Goans you may not be communal, your party as a whole is perceived as communal particularly due to the antics of some of your MPs and MLAs from other States.
How can I be responsible for that? My stand is that I am accountable for what I do or my colleagues in Goa do. Even at the national level, the party is sensitive to the fears of the minorities. What is happening is that there is a consistent propaganda against our party. Take the case of Khanapur recently. The MLAs utterances are being spoken about, but nobody is talking about the statement issued by the Bishop of Bangalore who called on the Chief Minister and said he was happy with what the Karnataka Chief Minister had done and incidentally, the concerned MLA was given a dressing down.
So what is your plan for Salcete which predominantly votes for the Congress or its breakaway groups? Are you planning to align with any group that may break away from the Congress?
Presuming that somebody breaks away from the Congress, is aligning with them really an option for us? One is worse than the other and I am not inclined to go with anybody. I think there is a churning in Salcete as people are getting fed up with the antics of their representatives. That is the reason why I shall tell not only people of Salcete, but all minorities: You have seen my administration and you have seen the subsequent governments. If you think I am good, vote for me. If not, continue to wallow in the muck and regret for the rest of the life because I think the forthcoming elections will be the last chance for all true Goa lovers to preserve our identity.