There is a lot of ruckus going on in Goa Congress these days. Of the eleven MLAs of the party, eight have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party. The top leadership of the Congress party is being blamed for this. Former CM Digambar Kamat is also among those who left the Congress and joined the BJP. Kamat was the Goa CM from 2007 to 2012. He started his political innings in 1994 by winning the election on a BJP ticket. Kamat is MLA from Margao for 8 consecutive terms. Mahendra Kumar of Organiser in conversation with Digambar Kamat, former CM Goa on the Goa political crisis. Excerpts:
You contested elections on a BJP ticket in 1994 and then you went to Congress, became the Chief Minister and served as Minister for several terms. You were also the opposition leader. Then why did you abandon Congress?
I am not new to the BJP. I have been associated with BJP since 1994. When I contested election for the first time, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had come to my election campaign and he had said at that time that my victory was certain. Due to some reasons I had to leave BJP in 2005. In 1994, when I contested the election on a BJP ticket for the first time, the BJP’s position in Goa was not very strong. I always had meetings with those in the BJP. Whenever any big BJP leader used to come to Goa, he would meet me. When I became the Chief Minister of Goa, I used to meet big BJP leaders on many occasions. Often BJP leaders used to say that I am their old partner and am doing very good work. No one is aware of what is happening in Congress now. It is not even known who is running the Congress. Interactions within the Congress are over. That’s why I thought it better to distance myself from Congress.
Seven more Congress MLAs have also joined BJP with you. Have you been planning this rebellion for a long time?
All MLAs who have come in BJP were very upset with the policies of the Congress. We were one of the prominent people of Goa Congress but our consent was never taken on any decision taken. Normally decisions are taken after consultations within the party. However, this was not happening. That is why many big leaders of Congress are leaving the party. When Ghulam Nabi Azad left the party, he wrote a five page letter. We had not planned on leaving the party; we only discussed.
What is the reason for joining BJP? There are many other parties then why only the ruling party?
Whoever thinks about his political future and whoever thinks about the public interest cannot stay with Congress. We are public representatives. People elect us and send us to the Parliament. Our first priority should be to meet the expectation of the people. People want work, they don’t want any kind of assurance. This is the reason why the Prime Minister of the country is doing better work. Millions of people are joining him. Ninety per cent of the youth of the country are supporting the BJP. India is being praised abroad as well. So it is okay to join the BJP.
Whoever thinks about his political future and whoever thinks about the public interest. He can not longer walk with Congress. We are public representatives. People elect us and send us in the Legislative Assembly, Parliament. Our first priority should be to meet the expectation of the people. People want work, they don’t want any kind of assurance
Now Goa Congress has three MLAs. Will you try to bring them into the BJP?
Of the three sitting MLAs, one had agreed to come with us. It is his personal matter whether he should come with us or not, but I must say that now the condition of Congress in Goa is not good.
It is being said that in the Cabinet expansion, you can be given the post of Deputy Chief Minister and the rest of those who left Congress as Ministers. Or you can be included in national politics?
I have no knowledge about this matter, whatever responsibility the top leadership of the BJP and the Prime Minister and the Home Minister will give to me, I will fulfill it.
Do you think now the role of opposition in Goa will be in the hands of Aam Aadmi Party?
It is absolutely possible that if the Congress does not improve its strategies, then such a situation can be seen. Congress votes can go towards Aam Aadmi Party. This is what happened in Delhi, all the votes of the Congress went to the Aam Aadmi Party, so for the last two Assembly Election the Congress is not able to get a single seat in Delhi.
Goa Congress leaders are saying that you already had a nexus with BJP. What do you say?
I had an association with BJP people but the manner in which Congress leaders misbehaved with me compelled me to leave the party. I have held many big posts, I have been MLA for eight consecutive terms, the way I was ignored. I didn’t like it. Congress leader Mukul Wasnik came to Goa but he did not meet me.
Then you have joined BJP, now what is your plan, how to support BJP?
Whatever responsibility I get from the Bharatiya Janata Party, I will try to fulfill it. I have also been a minister in the BJP Government in Goa, at that time I was Minister of the Ministry of Power. I was a minister in the Ministry of Power for 8 consecutive years. I had taken important steps for the development of electricity in Goa. As Chief Minister, I have done historic work in Goa which is appreciated by all. The people of BJP know about my track record, whatever responsibility I get according to my ability, I will fulfill it.
What is the attitude of your supporters after joining BJP?
In true sense, I have joined the BJP only because of my supporters. It was my people who told me that if you stay in Congress, we will not be with you. All my supporters are very happy after joining BJP. My supporters were also deeply saddened by the manner in which the Congress leaders misbehaved against me.