Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has his heart in Goa, say BJP leaders who know him closely and have watched the former chief minister fly down to Panji whenever he has no compelling engagements in New Delhi on weekends. In an interview to Kumar Uttam, he says that it’s for the party to decide who will be the CM post-elections. Excerpts:
Q: You don’t figure in the party’s list of campaigners for Uttar Pradesh and are devoting tall your time in Goa. Are we speaking to the next chief minister?
A: (Laughs) It is for the party to decide where I have to campaign. I am a leader from Goa and so it is quite natural for me to be here. Who is going to be the CM is something that the party will decide.
Q: BJP chief Amit Shah recently hinted about your continuing role in state politics. Are you ready to leave Delhi?
A: I have never said no to the party. It is for the people of Goa and journalists to interpret what Amit Shah has said. I have been a chief minister and a leader from Goa. My Rajya Sabha nomination from UP was incidental as there was no vacancy in the upper house from my state when I had to become an MP.
Q: it is the first time that Goa is seeing a three-cornered contest with the entry of AAP. How serious is the challenge from Arvind Kejriwal’s party ?
A: (Laughs) you are wrong. It’s a four cornered contest. I don’t want to comment on AAP. You would not have asked me that question if you had travelled across the state. They are non-issue. They talk of corruption but never pin points on specific issues. I am surprised to see Kejriwal spending Delhi government’s money on advertisements in Goa. What do people here have to do with Delhi government? They just know how to talk and remain in media. Ground reality is totally different from the discourse in newspapers and TV.
Q: RSS leader Subhash Velingkar has revolted. Your ally MGP has left the alliance. How is it going to impact the BJP?
A: Velingkar is no more with the RSS. MGP had its own issues. I am sure that the clean government that we provided will help us return to power. There is no anti incumbency against the BJP.
Q: BJP is making surgical strikes against Pakistan and demonetisation a poll issue in other poll bound states. How will they play out in Goa?
A: Goa election is being fought on local issues. Surgical strikes and demonetisation are not issues in Goa. But they will have a positive impact in the election. It will only help the BJP.