The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party may have its hopes pinned on the division of opposition votes to form the government in Goa as regional political parties from other states are striving to make inroads here. Former Goa chief minister and Congress leader Digambar Kamat, however, says “outsider" parties will not get any traction in the state that will have assembly polls on February 14.
The seven-time MLA from Margao and a Congress candidate contesting for the eighth time, Kamat recalled what late Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had said about Goans when asked about a possible fragmentation of votes.
“You are underestimating the Goans if you think that they will get their votes divided in favour of TMC and AAP. Nehru after liberating Goa campaigned for the party as the Congress had fielded candidates on all seats. The Congress could not win a single seat. The media asked him what happened? He said, ‘Ajeeb hain Goa ke log (Goans are strange people)’," maintained the MLA who hasn’t lost even once from Margao.
Kamat sharpened his attack on Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee as well. The Congress leader said that the reason the West Bengal chief minister hasn’t come to Goa is that she knows her party is losing.
“Probably the TMC chief is about to say the same thing – ‘Goans are strange people’– and that is the reason why she is not coming for campaigning. She must have got the message that the TMC is not taking off in Goa and it can cause her embarrassment,” he added.
The BJP is hopeful that in a multi-cornered fight, the anti-incumbency against it will be diluted as the votes that will otherwise go to the Congress will now be eaten into by the TMC, and Aam Aadmi Party as well.
The saffron party is weak in the Catholic-dominated Salcete belt, but out of the eight assembly seats here, it has won Margao at least twice. However, at the time Kamat was contesting on the BJP symbol. After quitting the party, he joined the Congress and has been successful in seven elections. Kamat says that when he became the chief minister, he respected the people’s decision and objection to infrastructure projects.
Kamat was one of the first four MLAs that the BJP had in 1994.
On the issue of the Congress’s chief ministerial face, he says it is irrelevant as if fate decides he should be CM, no one can stop that.
The Congress leaders believe there is an anti-BJP wave in the state.
In 2017, the Congress could not form the government in Goa despite being the single-largest party. Kamat said that former union minister P Chidambaram has already apologised to the people of Goa as there was a delay in taking a decision.
“It should have been taken the same night as the BJP was ruling at the Centre. Nobody thought that they would venture into forming a government like they did. The BJP started with four seats in 1994, went to 10 in 1999 and in 2002 it went to 17 and secured 21 seats in 2012. It came down to 13 in 2017. Their ulti ginti (countdown for exit) has started,” added the Congress leader.
When asked about the BJP’s allegations against him of being involved in a mining scam, he challenged the saffron party to produce any incriminating document with his name on it. Kamat recalled how union home minister Amit Shah took his name three times and gave him 3 ‘A’s last month (accusing the former CM of Avyavastha or Disorder, Asthirata or Instability, and Arajakta or Anarchy). “It is considered a good rating in terms of the corporate sector. We give them three ‘F’s – failure, fraud and frustration," said Kamat.