Former Goa chief minister, Digambar Kamat, has said that he was clueless as to why efforts to stitch up an anti-BJP alliance in the state could not come to fruition.
A six-time MLA from Goa’s business capital, Margao, Kamat exclusively told to Janta Ka Reporter’s Editor-In-Chief, Rifat Jawaid that such alliance had borne exceptional results in the civic body polls held in Margao and Fatorda municipalities.
He said, “I do not know. Some days back I had written an article in a newspaper. In that I had clearly mentioned that the Congress is a principal opposition party in the state of Goa. Hence, it’s the responsibility of the Congress party to unite all anti-BJP forces to defeat BJP in the state. Unfortunately, this does not remain in the hands of local leaders, leadership in Delhi is also part of it. Then what went wrong in holding negotiations, I don’t know. But in Margao municipal elections, we (myself and Vijai Sardesai) came together to keep BJP at bay and we swept the municipal council. He (Vijay) won 11 out of 11 in his constituency and I won 7 out of 10 in my constituency.”
On whether the division in anti-BJP forces will help the saffron party given that Manohar Parrikar has enjoyed good popularity in the past.
“You must know that the BJP came to power by painting us black… They assured the people something which was not possible. It’s like I will get you moon and sun and all these kinds of promises. Noe they have not been able to fulfill any of their promises. That’s why they are known as the government of U-turns.”
When asked if Aam Aadmi Party had posed any challenge to their vote share in general and his own seat in Margao in particular, Kamat said he wasn’t bothered about anyone including AAP chief, Arvind Kejriwal.
“I’m not bothered about who contests against me. How many parties contest against me. Because I am confident. This is my seventh election. I’ve been winning six times from Margao constituency. Every year, parties come and say ‘vote for a change.’ People of Margao ask them ‘why are you asking for a change? Tell us what you will do?’ They are not able to tell them what they will do.
“Whereas my approach to voters is that I tell them what I’ve done. ‘If you wish Digambar Kamat should represent you again, please ask your conscience and vote for me.’ Margao people have full faith in me, that’s why I’m permanently obliged to people of Margao for having elected me six times. Because of my connect with the common man, I never stayed in official residence in Panaji. I always stayed in Margao.”
On whether he was upset that his party had not projected him as the chief ministerial candidate, the veteran leader said that this had not bothered him too much because even in 2007, he was elected to be the state’s CM only after the results were announced.
“Party’s policies with respect to chief minister’s candidates is different in different states. They have their own system. They feel that after the election the MLAs will decide their leader. In 2007, when I became the chief minister, I never expected I will be made the chief minister of the state,” Kamat said.
Reacting to a question on his name surfacing in Louis Berger bribery scandal, Kamat said that it was a ploy by Manohar Parrikar to discredit him by dragging his name in Louis Berger scam.
“It was framed case to take some vindictive action against (at the behest of) Manohar Parrikar. I have no doubt (that Parrikar is behind it.) There is not a single place where my name has figured. Somebody sends an email to some office bearer in Louis Berger company stating that they had given money to A minister and officials of PWD to secure some contracts. This company was defrauded by some of their top executives. To save their lives, they must have said in the court that they gave money to A minister. I was not A minister, I was the chief minister of the state. The files needed not come to me. There’s no involvement of chief minister’s office.”
Kamat has been an extremely popular leader in Margao and has earned plenty of accolades for his simple living and the popular image of a common man. His residence in Margao is a tiny flat sharing its wall with the local mosque. The politician had refused to deploy security outside his residence after he was made the state’s chief minister.
His roadshow and door-to-door campaign is drawing considerably good crowd. While his seat appears to be safe, it’s not clear how much the division in anti-BJP votes will affect the Congress party in general.