Updated: January 6, 2022 7:25:22 pm
“You will know where I am at the right time,” Michael Lobo, Goa’s minister for Ports, Science and Technology, Rural Development and Waste Management, has said frequently over the last few months.
While political movements in the poll-bound state have been playing out since September, speculation has been rife that Lobo may be the first minister in the BJP government to leave the party. Lobo, however, has maintained that he has said nothing about leaving the BJP. But he has also not said that he will contest the upcoming Assembly polls from the BJP.
Lobo, two-time BJP MLA from the Calangute Assembly constituency and former Deputy Speaker of the Goa legislative Assembly, has on more than one occasion been critical of the government that he is a minister in.
On Tuesday, he launched a ‘movement’ that he called ‘Together for Bardez’. Bardez is a taluka in North Goa that comprises its coastal and tourist belt.
“This movement will be in Mapusa, Saligaon, Aldona,Tivim – in six constituencies (including Calangute and Siolim)… we will get good (election) candidates who are there to do the work of the people,” Lobo said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, he has already begun campaigning for his wife Delilah Lobo in the Siolim Assembly constituency. Delilah is sarpanch of Parra village panchayat in Bardez taluka. Lobo had some months ago announced that his wife will “most certainly” contest from Siolim, without saying which party she would be part of.
Rumours of Lobo’s exit from the BJP got stronger as Kedar Naik, sarpanch of Reis Magos village panchayat, who left the BJP, joined the Congress on Wednesday with his supporters in Saligaon. He said he and village panchayats in Saligaon have good relations with Lobo. Naik is likely to be considered for a Congress ticket from Saligaon constituency.
Lobo, in turn, called Naik a friend and added that he has friends across parties. “That doesn’t mean I am going to support this person or that person,” Lobo said.
Lobo was the first minister in the Pramod Sawant-led government to speak out against the allegedly illegal construction of a bungalow in Old Goa. In November, he also flagged a concern in a Cabinet meeting over the award of the maintenance and operation contract for the renovated Fort Aguada Jail that was inaugurated by the Prime Minister on December 19. “I smell a rat,” he had said about the Goa Tourism Development Corporation’s proposal for the selection of the bidder for the management and operation of the fort, which falls in his constituency of Calangute.
He also ruffled feathers when he recently supported Sudhir Kandolkar from Mapusa constituency, where the BJP has a sitting MLA. Kandolkar was the Congress candidate for the 2019 Mapusa Assembly bypoll.
BJP sources said that while Lobo has no differences with Sawant, it was “some people” in the party that he did not get along with.
Recently, Lobo had said that the BJP was not the same after the death of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar and that “some groups within the party” did not want to take Parrikar’s legacy forward.
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