Will AAP’s Goa unit go for Assembly polls with its own agenda?

With relentless efforts and induction of leaders from other political parties, including senior BJP leader and former industries minister Mahadev Naik, recently, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has claimed to have set up itself as a main alternative in Goa, where the assembly polls are due early next year.

The Goa unit of the AAP leadership believes that efforts of party workers especially during the peak of the second wave of the Covid pandemic has helped strengthen the party in the state.

AAP’s convener for Goa, Rahul Mahambre, who visited Delhi and discussed party’s strategies with the national leadership recently, spoke exclusively to IANS on party’s preparations for assembly elections.

Replying to the question if the State leadership will fight Goa Assembly elections on party’s image in Delhi and freebies announced by the central leadership, he said, “Obviously, Kejriwal’s image will be a crucial factor as Delhi has witnessed all round developments in the last six years, but we have many local issues as well to convince people to support the party. The announcement of free electricity up to 300 units per month for every household is just an example that if it can happen in Delhi, it can be done in Goa as well.”

Unemployment in Goa will be another crucial issue that the AAP will raise. Mahambre claimed that youths of Goa are joining AAP with the belief that they will have a better future, if AAP forms the government in 2022.

“For the last several years there have been tall promises that unemployment will be reduced, however, both the Congress and the BJP failed to make it happen. As a result, Goa’s unemployment rate has crossed 20 per cent, which is the highest percentage in the country,” he added.

Mahambre further claimed that around 50 lakh people in Goa are dependent on mining sectors for their livelihood. He alleged that rampant corruption in the mining sector for the last several years during the Congress and the BJP rules had prompted the Supreme Court to stop mining operations at several places since 2018.

“Although, the current BJP government in the state is trying to resume the mining operations and for this purpose a bill was also passed — Goa Mineral Development Corporation Bill, 2021, but the people know that BJP’s action has come when elections are very close. We will try to resume mining operations on priority basis because it is one of the main sources of revenue for the state government and the people,” he said.

Tourism and the governance will be other key agenda for upcoming Assembly polls in Goa. Mahambre said that more than 40 per cent families are directly or indirectly associated with tourism in Goa.

“Governance has a crucial role to play in Goa’s tourism sector but for the last few years there have been monopoly of some selected groups of people in this sector. We are working to frame a complete blueprint on new developments to be introduced to upgrade Goa’s tourism,” he added.

Replying to a question on support from the party’s central leadership for elections, he said, “It is very important to have coordination between state and the central leadership. After working for last couple of years, now I can say that each party worker in Goa is enthusiastic with the support from Delhi. For instance, recent debate between Delhi Power Minister Satyendar Jain and Goa Power Minister Nilesh Cabral made the volunteers more confident to convince people.”