BJP promises heaven in Goa

| 07 April 1999 23:26 IST

From football to sewage and water to world class Internet, the BJP-led central government has promised everything it can for the tourist state, provided Goans also return the favour in the form of votes - to bring the BJP to power in next two months.

The mood is obviously upbeat among the local BJP circles. The four-day national executive has come as a blessing in disguise. Exploiting organisational skills of the sangh parivar, maximum has been extracted from it for local benefit, no matter what happens to the survival of the central government as a result of firm decisions taken at the crucial Goa meet.

In fact the public rally organised on 3 April, which is a normal practice wherever the national executive is held, was converted into the launch of their election campaign. Taking advantage of election date being not announced, the seat of power was used to satisfy the electorate to the optimum.

While promising a stable and corruption-free government in the tourist state if the BJP is brought to power, prime minister Atel Behari Vajpayee in fact read out a lengthy list of assurances, while Maharashtra deputy chief minister Gopinath Munde made a special appearance at the rally, primarily to announce sops from the neighbouring "big brother".

Reading out a list, Vajpayee assured central help to get foreign investment for the long-pending environmental master plan worth Rs 196 crore, besides round-the-clock air port facility at Dabolim, financial help for the Verna-Mormugao highway to upgrade conveyance facility for the Mormugao Port Trust as well as to apply its mind to control the mining pollution in the tourist state.

While the prime minister assured to immediately release the total central share of Rs 140 crore for the Tillari irrigation project, the Goa - Maharashtra joint venture, Munde went to the extent of announcing that the project would be completed even if Goa delays payment of its share.

Munde also promised 40 MW of power from the Enron project while also assuring to the power-stricken people that the work of Kolhapur sub-station would be expedited. Union power minister R Kumarmangalam earlier had one briefing only to announce release of funds - over Rs 200 crore - for the Kolhapur-Goa transmission line, which could wheel in the excess power Goa was unable to get despite having been allocated it for so many years.

At the venue of the party meet, union sports minister Uma Bharati announced a national football academy for Goa, to make Goa pilgrim of football, realising that football spirit runs through veins of Goans, especially the Catholics here. The initiative for this was earlier taken by governor Lt Gen (retd) J F R Jacob, a former BJP man, who is presently ruling the state during the President's rule.

Minister of railways for state Ram Naik flagged off a new train from Goa to Mumbai besides assuring to open the south central railway route, which has been kept closed for the last four years despite broadening the tracks. While inaugurating a local exchange, communications minister Jagmohan has also assured upgradation of the local Internet facility, which is presently quite irritating.

BJP remained a political non-entity in the former Portuguese colony for three long decades since its liberation in 1961, to make a debut in the Goa Assembly with four legislators in '94 elections due to the electoral alliance struck down with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which had ruled here for the first 17 years.

Though the saffron party lost almost 21 seats out of 25 it contested for the 40-member House, its hindutvawadi fanaticism - blended with commitment and sincerity - as well as consistency in work in the Assembly and outside has proved to be rewarding. In fact, both the Lok Sabha candidates last year lost the seats with slender margin to the Congress, pushing the regional forces to third position.

Though the party has still kept their options open to once again align with the MGP, it is also thinking why they should not go alone, no matter if the Congress comes to power but if the BJP emerges as the major opposition in the state. "With Goan getting disgusted with defection games of the regional parties as well as the Congress, people will definitely shift their allegiance to us" claims Manohar Parrikar, a local party strategist.

In fact union home minister L K Advani and party supremo Kushabhau Thakre, at the public rally, emphasised on Goa's dirty politics, which witnessed 10 chief ministers in nine years. "Why can't you vote for clean politics when the large hearted people of the state can keep the surroundings so clean and beautiful", they asked amidst thundering applause.

Getting inspiration from the grand public rally, the local saffron leaders have now organised a "parivartan yatra", beginning by the month end, throughout the state. They are also happy that the central leaders are impressed with the local performance. Many of them, including Vajpayee, Advani, Munde, Pramod Mahajan, Sushma Swaraj etc have assured them to come down to address campaign meetings.

"Our main plank for the polls would be stability, corruption-free government and effective improvement of quality of life", says Parrikar, a former legislator, who has also gained credibility for exposing the multi-crore power scam during the Congress regime.

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