BJP MLA and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo, who has been critical of his own government for the last few months, tells Soiru Velip in an interview that he will be a contender for the chief minister’s post after the current Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar quits the active politics
Q: You are an MLA of the ruling BJP, but has been critical of the Parrikar government over various issues. Why have you been taking on your own government?
The people of Calangute elected me as an MLA. But I believe that a member of the state legislative assembly should be an MLA for Goa and not only for his constituency. It is unfortunate that some of the MLAs cannot think beyond their constituencies. As an elected legislator I must raise the issues concerning Goa and the people. No doubt alot of developmental works have been underway with full backing of the Centre, but at the same time we should not forget that a number of issues have been plaguing the state, and remain unresolved. Hence as a legislator it is my duty to remind the government of these issues.
Q: Can you speak at length on the issues?
In 2014, the state government had promised that it will create 50,000 jobs in public as well as private sectors. At least 4,000 jobs are pending in the public sector, but no steps have been taken to fill these vacancies. No headway has been made in employment generation in the private sector as well. The industrial sector has been totally sick due to GST, RERA regulations and taxes. Besides, the authorities have failed to provide uninterrupted water and power supply to industrial units. Companies are not keen on opening shop in Goa and those who operate in the state are retrenching their employees. Consequently Goan youth are going to regions in the Persian Gulf like Dubai and Kuwait and are working for the monthly salaries ranging from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000. Lakhs of people are suffering due to the mining closure. Mining dependants have been in a soup as they cannot repay their loans. It is the duty of the government to take a final decision on the mining issue and frame a policy… My demand is: take a decision – the government should decide whether it wants an amendment to the MMDR Act, or it would go for auctioning of mining leases. If the government wants to opt for the auction route then it will have to keep a watch on new players. Who will be allowed to take part In the auctioning? Will they be big players from outside Goa, or will they be local mining firms?… Sand mining has also been in the doldrums… I think things have been hanging fire because there is no clear-cut government policy to resolve these issues.
Q: You are into the tourism sector and also an MLA from the coastal belt. How do you look at this industry?
The tourism sector has also been plagued by several issues calling for urgent attention. In Goa there has been 50 per cent decline in arrival of foreign tourists through chartered flights.You do not find foreign tourists on beaches, which are crowded mostly by domestic tourists. The state tourism sector has been going through a bad patch because wrong policy decisions were taken five years back, or even before that,while promoting tourism. You do not succeed in wooing foreign tourists just by holding trade fairs in various countries and having dinners with travel agents. You need vision and commitment for the tourism promotion. I am not blaming current Tourism Minister for today’s sorry state of affairs. But as a government you must take corrective steps.
Q: Some days back you said that you will be in the race for the Chief Minister’s post. Can you elaborate on your aspirations?
Inspired by Manohar Parrikar’s leadership, I joined the BJP in 2006. We respected and accepted the leadership of Parrikar, and till date he has been my leader. He has done lots of things for Goa. In spite of his poor health, he has been trying to give his best although outcomes have been slower. But I will be a contender for the CM’s post after the exit of Manohar Parrikar from the active politics. At this moment I cannot tell you from which party I will contest the next election as I have not taken a decision on it. But one thing is definite: I will be in the race for the CM’s post because I have abilities and strengths to run administration. I have ideas for creating jobs and giving direction to sectors like tourism, mining, employment, industry etc. I admit that my abilities are not on par with Parrikar.
Q: Recently some developments have taken place in the state BJP unit. Satish Dhond, who is known for maintaining discipline in the party, has taken over as the organisation secretary of the state unit. Will this new development prevent you from raising your voice on various issues?
Many people are saying that I am talking against my own government. To be frank, I am not doing anything against the Chief Minister, the government or the party. I am raising the issues of common man; so where is the question of being indiscipline vis-à-vis the party?It is not a fact that several issues have remained unresolved? It is not a fact that discussions were held in the state and at the central level of the party over issues like leadership and others? But have we found the solution? My demand is simple: take everybody into confidence over people’s issues or party matter; discuss the issues and take a firm decision.