Defence minister Manohar Parrikar is back to the centre stage of politics in poll-bound Goa, campaigning for the BJP and taking on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal whose Aam Aadmi Party is trying to set foot in the coastal state.
The former Goa chief minister, whose ‘Mr Clean’ image helped his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) win the last election, is dismissive about Kejriwal and the political impact.
The BJP won 21 of the 40 seats in the state in 2012.
Goa will go to polls to elect the 40-member House on February 4. For the first time in Goa politics, there will be a three-way fight between the ruling BJP, Congress and the AAP.
“They talk of corruption but never pinpoint the issue,” Parrikar told Hindustan Times. “Imagine, they are spending Delhi government money for advertising in Goa. What has Goa to do with the Delhi government?”
Parrikar said the corruption is not as big an issue as it was the last time when then Congress government had indulged in corrupt practices. He moved to the national scene in November 2014 but remains the BJP’s most popular face in the coastal state.
Despite having a chief minister in place, the BJP is projecting Parrikar as the face of the party. It was BJP president Amit Shah who fired up speculation saying the next chief minister will work under him.
“(Prime Minister) Narendra bhai (Modi) needs him (Manohar Parrikar) at the Centre as well. We will decide after elections where Parrikar will be working. But let me assure you that wherever Parrikar may be working, the Goa government will function under his leadership,” Shah said at a rally at Vasco Town on Sunday.
Shah’s comments came on the heels of a similar remark by Nitin Gadkari, the election in-charge of Goa, who said that the party will decide whether Parrikar will go to state politics.
Parrikar, too, is letting the suspense to continue.
“I am a leader from Goa, and it is quite natural for me to campaign in my home state,” Parrikar said.
“My Raja Sabha nomination from Uttar Pradesh was incidental as there was no vacancy to the Upper House from Goa when I moved to national politics.”