As the Aam Aadmi Party gears up for the upcoming assembly polls in Goa early next year, the party has set up study teams in the state to conduct detailed reports on three major issues: mining, migration of youth due to unemployment and casinos. The findings of the studies will decide the party’s stand on the issues during the campaign ahead and will be collated with the demands of the electorate placed at the ‘Goa Dialogues’ to form the party’s final election manifesto.
The AAP has drawn up small teams of local leaders and domain experts to conduct detailed studies on the three issues and a consolidated report is likely to be drafted by next month. “Our teams are talking to all the stakeholders who are affected by these issues. Mining, for example, is a complex issue in Goa and there cannot be an arbitrary stand on it. There is a sizeable population dependent on mining and there are vast swathes of farm land that are being destroyed due to sludge from mines. So we have to look for a middle path,” Pankaj Gupta, AAP Goa state-in-charge told The Indian Express.
“Similarly a large number of youths in Goa migrate to European countries because there are no jobs in the state that they find suitable for themselves. Several of them are Schengen visa holders and move out in search of better jobs but unlike Punjabi NRIs, they land low-paying jobs and are not even in a position to financially support their kin,” Gupta added. “In our study so far we found that over 5,000 youths are moving out of Goa in search of jobs every year.”
While the party is set to promise better jobs and more industries in the state hoping to lure the youth, it has to tread carefully as a large number of migrants from neighbouring states move in to take these jobs. Of the 11 lakh voters in the state, migrants comprise a sizeable section and the party will also not want to hurt their interests or take an anti-migrant stand. Senior leaders said that a balance has to be struck between reaching out to native Goans and migrants with promises that are a win-win for all.
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On the issue of casinos, the AAP is still undecided whether to take an entirely anti-gambling stand or press for moving the casinos from the Mandovi river to the sea, a promise made by the Congress, previously. “While some thousands of local residents are employed in casinos and alternative jobs have to be worked out for them if we do away with the casinos, a large section of the population which has lost their children to gambling, drugs and prostitution, do want a curb on the thriving business. This is yet another issue that needed in-depth study and analysis and only then can we decide on our position,” Gupta explained. “Simultaneously we are holding Goa Dialogues in every constituency and also special sessions with women, youth, fishermen and tribals, communities that need special attention. We are asking them not only what their complaints are but also seeking solutions from them. All of this will go into our manifesto. A corruption-free government will of course be our main poll plank.”
Apart from conducting door-to-door surveys, the study teams are also digging up existing and past policies on the issues for a better understanding of the failures of previous governments.
The party recently announced four candidates for the forthcoming elections and is set to release its second list of another 12 candidates shortly. Unlike Punjab that also goes to polls at the same time, the preparations in Goa are lagging behind as the party decided to go to polls here much later than it identified Punjab. Party leaders maintained that Goa being a much smaller state with just 40 seats — Punjab has 117– is unlikely to throw up challenges of organization building and campaigning as in the northern state.
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