CM Pramod Sawant on how the government propelled ‘dual engine’ development

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant believes that if given a chance to rule the state again for the next five years, the Bharatiya Janata Party will achieve its vision of a ‘Swayampurna Goa’ or Self-Governing Goa. Taking time out of the election campaign to speak to Asianet Newsable, Sawant credits the “dual engine” BJP government with bringing Goa to a level of development it has not seen in the last five decades. During the freewheeling interview, the Goa Chief Minister also explained whether the BJP sees the Aam Aadmi party or the Trinamool party as a significant threat in the assembly elections. Continue reading.

What have been your government’s main successes over the past five years?

While explaining the successes (of the state government), I would like to say that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while referring to Goa, had said that Goa would be a model for other states. In infrastructure development and human development, the way we have worked with the aid of the twin-engine government will be a model for others. In this time of pandemic, the Prime Minister had asked for ‘Aatmanirbar Bharat’, which we converted to ‘Swayampurna Goa’ which means ‘Autonomous Goa’. We have promoted the “Swayampurna Goa” model as a development model.

How have Narendra Modi government’s projects benefited Goa?

A 100 percent! Since he (Narendra Modi) became Prime Minister in 2014, he has extended his support for infrastructure development. This type of development has not taken place in the last 50 years in Goa. We have received over Rs 22,000 crore for national highway infrastructure development and other projects.

Along the same lines, we achieved the goal of no open defecation. We have achieved the objectives of the “Har Ghar Nal Se Jal” program (to provide drinking water in homes), health infrastructure, agricultural infrastructure and all sectors. Central government funds were 96% utilized in Goa. It is a proud moment for me as Chief Minister.

What is your vision for Goa in the next five years?

In the next five years, we started with “Swayampurna Goa” as the Prime Minister wishes: the concept “Aatmanirbhar Bharat or Make In India”. In the same vein, we launched ‘self-sufficient’ Goa and in the next five years we will achieve this. Along with infrastructure and human development, we will make Goa ‘self-sufficient’.

There have been many leaders who have jumped ship. Do you think the opposition is in a state of disarray?

I just want to tell you that with the kind of model we are working on, many leaders are joining the BJP. Those who are good and want to work for the state and the nation, we will welcome them and again, to serve Goa, they (the defectors from other parties) will be with us.

How do you perceive the threat posed by TMC in the upcoming elections?

I don’t feel any threat. The Trinamool Congress has shown its presence to the people but our work has been etched in the minds of the people and certainly the people of Goa will prefer the Bharatiya Janata Party.

AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal said only AAP can compete with BJP. Does the BJP believe it too?

Ho sakta hai‘ (Quite possible), maybe. They have already declared candidates; they declared themselves early and worked for the last five years. It is possible that Aam Aadmi will become our opposition party.

Will AAP and TMC reduce your votes? What do the people think of these two parties?

I don’t know whose votes they cut off. But for the development of Goa, the people are with us. I just want to tell you that people will prefer Bhartiya Janata Party.

Carlos Almeida and Alina Saldanha recently resigned, saying the party changed after the disappearance of Manohar Parikkar? What is your opinion?

People who have joined other parties indicate that they do not want any development.

Were attempts made to convince them to stay back or address their concerns?

Our dialogue is engaged with those who want to do something good for the state and stay with the party. Those who wanted to do good were convinced because they would also know that we were doing good to the party. They will stay with the party.

MGP was BJP’s ally and has now patched with TMC. There are reports that the BJP is still in talks with the BJP. How do you answer it?

We had an alliance with MGP earlier. And now I don’t want to comment on who wants to line up with the others. At present, to save the tradition and culture of Goa, we want them not to separate, but what can we do?

Former CM Digambar Kamat says BJP government failed to manage Covid and alleged that Rs 15 lakh to Rs 30 lakh is being collected for government posts. How do you respond to that?

I want to tell you that we had one of the best Covid management (mechanism) and at present Goa has all the infrastructure and is the only state where an ex-gratia of 2 lakh in addition to Rs 50,000 was given to those who died. We provided 100% free treatment in private hospitals. It is the duty of the opposition to continue to make allegations.

A few months ago, the governor of Meghalaya, Satya Pal Malik, claimed that he had seen corruption first hand in everything the Goa government was handling. How much damage did this declaration cause? How would this impact your survey prospects?

Everyone knows that after moving from here, why do people talk, why such statements are made and who makes such statements? The people of Goa have also started thinking why such comments are being made. The rest is left to him.

You recently proposed that temples destroyed during Portuguese rule centuries ago should be rebuilt. Your opponents would claim that you are altering the culture and heritage of Goa. How would you react to that?

In discussing this thing, I want to say that some temples were destroyed earlier, and it is there in the archaeological site, and there are statements about it. Before, there were temples, and now these sites are empty. According to archaeological reports, there were temples there. Referring to these, I made statements that temples should be built again. According to the request of the Hindus, definitely, there should be (rebuilt) temples.

There is a beef ban in Karnataka, and many BJP rules state this. Will Goa also consider the same in the future if you return to power?

Definitely not! (People of) all religions, communities and sects live here. And the people of this region prefer food (beef); it is a tourist state. But one thing I want to point out is that cow slaughter will not take place here.

What do internal party projections say about voter mood?

We are 100% convinced that we are returning to power to serve the state. We are confident that in 2022 we will gain more than 22 seats and the BJP will have the opportunity to help people.

Why should people vote for the BJP?

First, the most extensive infrastructure in the state (refers to development projects), second is “Swyampurna Goa” — the slogan we coined — people feel they can become self-sufficient, and the third is that we are working for human development or ‘Antyoday’ where we have reached to the last person. We will ask people to vote for us (based on these achievements).

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Last updated on Jan 19, 2022 at 8:00 am IST


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