VERNA: The working president of the Congress and its Nuvem candidate Aleixo Sequeira has said that the biggest achievement of the party so far is not to take back defectors and keep Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco from being re-inducted into the party.
Speaking on Herald TV’s ‘Goa Wants to Know’ programme, Sequeira a former minister said, “To form a government, we need to have a clear majority. Once again with a majority there will be no defections, and we will complete the five year term without defections,” Sequeira said.
“Our biggest commitment was that none of the 10 defectors would be
given tickets and we stood by it. This time the party means business. Voters can remain assured that there would be no defection in the forthcoming years,” Sequeira added. “The party is seized with issues of the past and mistakes of 2017. I can confidently say, we won't repeat the mistakes and complete the five years,’ he said.
Sequiera further said, “The Congress is being well accepted and we are sure this time we will form the next govt. The party had made certain commitments to the people and there is anti-incumbency against the BJP. Our biggest commitment was not to take back the 10 defectors and we stood by it.”
Asked about the exodus of MLAs and why the party could not stem the tide, nor do any introspection at that point of time, Sequeira said, “Introspection was done, maybe at that time there was no option but to accept reality. We expected relief from the Goa Assembly Speaker and from the courts. The Courts did not take up the matter, maybe because of Covid. The High Court is primarily taking up urgent issues, maybe in their wisdom this (disqualification) is not an urgent manner.”
Questioned whether in the run up to the 2022 Assembly elections the Congress had sacrificed building the party organisation for the sake of winnability, Sequeira did not agree that the blocks were disillusioned.
Asked about the list of candidates who were declared, Sequeira said more than party building, getting to power is paramount and certain compromises had to be made. The party is also guided by surveys, he said. “Michael Lobo indicated that he was not happy and comfortable with BJP for a long time for reasons best known to him. Joining (the Congress) was his decision. Once you are a Congress member, the party also thinks of winnability and we have chosen him and his wife and we are confident that both of them will win,” Sequeira said.
Sequeira suggested that there was a price to pay and unfortunately they lost Agnel Fernandes, Joseph Sequeira and Anthony Menezes. “But I think that happens. This is bound to upset some. All of us are aspirants. It is difficult to control our emotions and we go this way or that,” he added.
Sequeira said the party had invited suggestions and these will be incorporated in the manifesto. “Rahul Gandhi, when he visited Goa, clearly said, we will stand by the manifesto. If a leader of his stature makes such a statement, we will be left with no option but to implement it,” he assured.
Quizzed about issues that would give an advantage to the Congress at the elections, Sequeira said the party’s secular credentials are a big plus point. Besides he said they have given commitments to stop the import of coal, stop the Tamnar power project and stop double-tracking, at least stopping the balance part of the work.
Sequeira, while admitting that the Congress government had renewed the licenses of Jindal during the tenure of Digambar Kamat as chief minister, denied that Congress had given ‘consent to operate’ to Adanis. He said only ‘consent to establish’ was given.
On the issue of restarting mining, Sequeira said he knows for sure that the party is in favour of starting mining. But the Mining Corporation is a farce since Mining Corporation will not take over leases. “I have been told by reliable people that the Mining Corporation will be another entity that will compete with the mine owners to get that lease. This is a farce. They want to mislead people to get votes,” he opined.
Asked about a Congress fix for this, Sequeira said the party will come out with a strategy to restart mining. “We know we have to restart but at what level? We will apply our minds,” Sequeira said while expressing himself in favour of locals benefiting from mining.
(Watch the full interview on Herald TV with timings on Herald and on our Twitter and FB handles)