Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar believes there is no sympathy wave for former chief minister Manohar Parrikar in the state and that people will not be swayed by emotions while voting. Parrikar, who was battling cancer, passed away recently.
Chodankar, who is contesting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from north Goa, alleged that Parrikar brought the state administration on standstill for the past one year.
“Why must there be sympathy for something? Shouldn’t there be sympathy for bringing Goa to a standstill for more than a year without any chief minister or a deputy chief minister? For not having cabinet meetings and assembly sessions? For paralysing the administration? There could be sympathy in BJP offices but not among people. That is out of the question. For the last one year, we have seen that just because of one person, the entire Goa administration was non-functional,” said Chodankar in an exclusive interview with indianexpress.com.
Chodankar, who hails from the Bhandari community that forms a sizeable chunk of voters in the north Goa constituency, has been pitted against union minister Shripad Naik who has been the MP from the region for the past 20 years.
Hopeful of defeating Naik at his bastion, Chodankar said, “It’s not only me who is confident, but it’s also the people who are seeking a change. And they are confident that they will bring a change as the sitting MP has not done anything for the last 20 years.”
Elaborating on the “failures” of the current BJP regime, the Goa Congress chief said, “They have failed on all fronts. Whether it is the Centre or the state government or the sitting MP, none have done anything in the last 20 years. The youth is frustrated. The common man is struggling. The mining dependents are angry as their businesses have collapsed. The economy is on the downtrend. Tourism has been destroyed. Every segment is unhappy.”
Chodankar said tourism, which is one of the major sources of employment and revenue in Goa, has been completely ignored by the BJP government. Criticising the Coastal Regulation Zone or CRZ notification, which environmentalists claim has opened up fragile inter-tidal areas to real estate agents and benefits large-scale industry at the cost of fishing communities, Chodankar said, “They have destroyed our beaches and they are trying to destroy it through this CRZ notification. There is no focus area for tourism. It’s unplanned. Security of the tourists and cleanliness of the beaches are among hosts of issues affecting the tourism industry.”
North Goa is a tourist attraction and travellers often complaint of the exorbitant fares by the local taxi drivers. The app-based cab service like Ola and Uber are not available in Goa. On being asked how he plans to solve the issue if voted to power, Chodankar said it can be done by taking the local taxi drivers into confidence.
“You cannot displace people who are in the taxi business. You have to take them into confidence, whether you want to modernise the system or make it more passenger-friendly. It can be done but not by displacing our own sons of the soil. I am meeting many taxi drivers and owner, they are very flexible. They just want to be taken into confidence while finalising this (app-based cab service). See they have chosen this job because of frustration not out of love. I have seen there are graduates and postgraduates who are running taxis.
Promising better governance, the Congress chief said, “We have to become the voice of people. Right now our MPs have failed miserably to become the voice of the common man who is struggling to save Goa. The entire Goa is crying over issues like the river nationalisation, CRZ notification. All these issues could have been raised in Parliament and at the level of the Prime Minister. They have their government in the Centre as well as the state. But they didn’t do anything.”
Goa has two Lok Sabha constituencies, north and south Goa. The state goes to polls on April 23.
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