New Delhi: All does not seem to well in the Goa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). A week after an MLA left the BJP for the Congress, the state’s minister for ports, Michael Lobo, has launched a salvo against his own party, saying it is no longer the ‘party with a difference’ as it once claimed to be, and accusing it of forgetting ethics, becoming commercialised, and ignoring old workers.
“It (the state BJP) has forgotten the ethics of politics that were initiated under the leadership of the late Manohar Parrikar. Karyakartas are no longer valued and one or two people make all the decisions without consulting others,” Lobo told ThePrint.
“The party has become commercial, it has become a shop. Values don’t matter now,” he added.
Lobo, a prominent minister in the Pramod Sawant-led government, is an influential leader in the crucial Bardez region of North Goa, home to a number of constituencies, including the state’s commercial capital, Mapusa, and a strong Hindu vote bank for the BJP.
His anguish comes at a time when the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has refused to revive its erstwhile alliance with the BJP — it has tied up with the Trinamool Congress instead — and several leaders have left the BJP ahead of ticket distribution for the upcoming Assembly election. MLA Carlos Almeida similarly accused the BJP of moving away from former CM Parrikar’s legacy while quitting the party last week.
Asked who was responsible for making such decisions and disrespecting old workers, Lobo said, “The Goa organising secretary is openly threatening people, saying that the doors are open for them to leave if they don’t agree with the party’s decisions. Two leaders in Goa are messing up the BJP’s affairs.”
On being asked whether he was leaving the BJP to contest for a different party, Lobo said, “I have learned that the BJP is not considering my ticket, although the chief minister and the party president have not spoken personally about it. Let them decide — my doors are open.”
He added that “many parties” had approached him, but he would decide in time.
‘Some party men don’t want Parrikar’s legacy to continue’
Recalling the era of Parrikar, the former Goa CM and defence minister of India, Lobo said the late leader “used to meet workers and take everyone along to resolve their problems”.
“We have realised after the death of Manohar Parrikar that BJP is no longer ‘the party with a difference’. It isn’t the party of karyakartas any more,” he said.
“Some party men don’t want Parrikar’s legacy to continue — they are systematically destroying the values and agenda he had set,” he alleged.
“Nobody knows how new people are being inducted — the party is importing candidates who it thinks can win at any cost. The BJP high command should look into this matter to save the party’s culture in Goa,” Lobo appealed.
“Today, leaders are so arrogant that they say ‘move to another party if you don’t accept the BJP’s decisions’,” he added.
On being asked whether he was upset because his wife, Delilah, was denied a BJP ticket to contest from Siolim, Lobo said, “My wife is campaigning in Siolim and she will fight the election for another party. People want development in the area — there is none at present.”
He added that the BJP can’t use “two yardsticks”, alleging it was using one for Deputy Chief Minister Chandrakant Kavlekar, whose wife wants to contest from Sanguem, and another for him and Delilah.
Attempt to pacify Lobo
In September, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, whom the party had placed in charge of elections in Goa, had rushed to Lobo’s house to pacify him.
But that meeting made no difference when Lobo, in November, announced that his wife, who is vice president of the state BJP women’s wing, would contest from Siolim. He also announced his support for Congress leader Sudhir Kandolkar in the Mapusa constituency.
Lobo also told the local media in November that he had joined the BJP because of Manohar Parrikar, but now that Parrikar was no more, he had a decision to make. He pointed out that before joining the BJP, he had been a Congress worker.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)