Re-elected as Chief Minister of Goa for the second consecutive term, Dr Pramod Sawant has demonstrated his political as well as administrative skills. The young leader has managed to do the impossible – whether it means fitting into the large shoes of his predecessor CM the late Manohar Parrikar or making his State an Ayurvedic hub. This dynamic Chief Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader is not only fulfilling all his responsibilities in the coastal State but is also emerging as a role model for new generation politicians. Taking advantage of the fact that Goa receives a large percentage of foreign tourists from across the globe, Pramod Sawant is now on a mission to make his State an Ayurvedic hub. Sawant, who did Bachelor of Medical Science in Ayurveda, applauds PM Narendra Modi for taking up the initiative to spread Yoga across India as well as 141 nations. The Goa Government is promoting wellness tourism. “We are working to get high-end facility providers and Ayurvedic doctors on the same level. We are planning a global Ayurvedic meeting in December, and everyone is welcome,” he said. Prafulla Ketkar, Editor Organiser had an interesting discussion with Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant at ‘Media Mahamanthan’, a daylong programme at Hotel Ashok in Delhi, to mark 75 years of completion of Organiser and Panchjanya, the parent company of the weeklies Bharat Prakashan (Delhi) Limited. Excerpts
People used to say that candidates won due of Modiji’s efforts. But, now that you’ve won twice in a row, what were the causes behind your second straight victory?
The blessings of Modiji have always stayed with the people of Goa. The growth of the double engine Government and organisational effort over the last three years has ensured our return to power. No one expected us to win, but I and my organisation were certain of winning all 22 seats. We narrowly lost two seats, but for the first time, the BJP came into power on its own.
How do you govern a challenging State like Goa, with fewer constituencies, resource limits, and tourism suffering a shock post-COVID-19? How can you get other people’s trust?
We were unable to build mining industries due to the SC’s mining prohibition. But, with the support of the Centre and policies such as mining wastes and mining corporations, we are attempting to resurrect them. Goa has become the safest destination for local and international travellers due to our effective management of COVID-19 and 100 per cent immunisation. We have constructed infrastructure as a result of the dual-engine Government, including roads, drinking water, and health care facilities. As a result, people have trust in our abilities and have re-elected the BJP.
‘There should be a discussion on why Goa took 14 years to gain Independence. The Indian Government ignored the freedom fighters from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal who came to support the Goa independence campaign but were killed by the Portuguese. During those 14 years, these people waged the most significant war for liberty in 1955’
Goa remained under foreign administration for the longest time. Four hundred and fifty one years before it gained Independence in 1961, Goa saw the biggest cultural damage that people seldom discuss. How do you perceive the burgeoning Swarajya and cultural reclamation movements in the country in the context of Goa?
There should be a discussion on why Goa took 14 years to gain Independence. The Indian Government ignored the freedom fighters from Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Bengal who came to support the Goa independence campaign but were killed by the Portuguese. During those 14 years, these people waged the most significant war for liberty in 1955.
I am adamant that temples and other cultural institutions be rebuilt, and the Government has provided a budgeted allocation of 20 crores for this purpose.
How would you carry out your oath of ‘Swayam Purna Goa’ in the face of India’s shifting worldwide economy?
Modiji’s idea of launching Aatma Nirbhar Bharat and enlisting the assistance of all 80 ministries with their various initiatives to reach the last individual was transformed into Swayam Purna Goa. This initiative had ten key points to ensure that every yojana of the central and state governments reached every individual. Electricity for all, water for all, sanitation for all, housing for all, financial security for all, social security for all, diving equipment for all, Kisan credit card for all, and every gazetted officer at Gram Panchayat even worked on Saturdays to guarantee initiatives reach everyone. Goa is the first and only State to achieve 100 percent electricity, as well as the first to provide 100 per cent coverage of ‘Har Ghar Nal‘ water systems in the first phase. In the second phase, we are encouraged by our farmers to produce in our own State so that we do not need to import from other states, and we are already exporting at least 20 per cent.
How is the response and execution of ‘Sarkar Aapke Dwar‘?
We launched various projects in the previous three years, including Government at Your Doorstep, Swayam Purna Yuva, Swayam Purna Mahila and Swayam Purna Village. They have all been completed. The successful initiative, ‘Government at Your Doorstep,’ had a positive reaction since officers from 35 departments dealing with day-to-day operations remained in the constituency the entire day, clearing at least 60 per cent of people’s work on the same day. We have restarted the programme in this administration as well.
Is there any roadmap for Swayam Purna Goa?
We propose two things to the people in the roadmap of Swayam Purna Goa. First, with the assistance of the Skill Ministry, we are providing trained and ready workforce to commercial and government companies such as the IT industry and electronic manufacturing cities based on their needs. Second, we are revitalising traditional industries such as horticulture, agriculture, and dairy.
Do BJP Chief Ministers discuss the success, structure, and flaws of the Uniform Civil Code?
I am proud to announce that Goa has been following UCC since its freedom. At the three-day BJP Chief Ministers’ conference, discussions were held with all of the CMs, and I personally spoke with Pushkar Singh Dhami and others. Other States, in my opinion, should follow UCC.
What precisely do you do to fight Mamta Banerjee’s belligerent aggression in Goa?
When we kept on doing work they automatically failed in their intentions.
Do you mean TMC and Mamta Banerjee were only recently visible in Goa’s media?
I said from the start that she was only in advertising and media and had no interaction on the ground. If someone from Bengal comes to Goa and says, “We will reign over you,” they are mistaken.
But this was also said of Delhi and Punjab, so what made you different?
Goans are astute enough to recognise who is working for personal gain and who is working for the State.
Why is it that Ayurveda and modern medicine are not integrated; it is always this vs that? As an Ayurvedic student, what is your view?
Ayurveda has already begun to present data concerning the therapeutic procedure. The All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA) in New Delhi is investigating the matter. The AIIA’s second branch will shortly launch a new research programme in the field of Ayurveda. People will undoubtedly benefit from integrated therapy if it is implemented quickly.