Panaji : The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), with support of regional parties, will look to put together a Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) like formation in Goa, minus the Congress, BJP and AAP, to form a credible, alternative non-BJP alliance in the coastal state ahead of the 2022 polls, senior party leader Praful Patel said on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Patel said that in the manner in which the MVA had saved the Aarey forests from destruction, the party would work towards scrapping of central government projects facilitating coal transportation in Goa, which he said would destroy the state’s environment along with tourism prospects. “Like the MVA in Maharashtra, we can give an alternative non-BJP government in Goa… We are not concerned what BJP does and Congress does. Our primary objective is to build NCP and build a credible alternative. I am sure, the NCP along with like-minded parties, without Congress or BJP, will be in a position to build trust of the people of Goa,” said Patel, who is in-charge of the NCP’s Goa desk.
The NCP currently has one MLA in the 40-member state legislative assembly, who is currently providing issue-based support to the ruling BJP-led coalition government. Patel said that the pandemic-hit year 2020 had disrupted political action plans of all political parties and added that the NCP would work towards building the organisation in the run-up to the 2022 Goa assembly polls. Asked why the party would not be looking at support from the Congress party as an alliance partner, Patel blamed All India Congress Committee secretary Dinesh Gundu Rao’s recent statement, in which the Congress leader said that the Sonia Gandhi-led party was considering going it alone in the forthcoming polls.
“Congress, as I said last time (2017), they did not want to have an alliance with us. Now also they are making announcements that they will fight on their own,” Patel said, adding, that had the Congress and NCP formed an alliance in 2017, the two parties would have been in a position toAform a government on their own. Reacting to a question on the position of the NCP on the multi-modal coal corridor which is being developed in Goa, which has seen sustained opposition from civil society groups and the political opposition, Patel said that if the NCP is voted to power, the corridor will meet the same fate as the controversial metro rail project passing through the Aarey forests in Goregaon. “NCP is very, very committed to the environment and we will always take up issues where the environment is protected and Goa’s most important is tourism. Without environment tourism will be finished in Goa. We have to support tourism and protect the environment. That is a must for Goa,” Patel said.
“Like we scrapped the Aarey project to protect the environment (and) the green cover of Mumbai, also with the coal (project). No one should use Goa to use the state as a landing point to supply to the rest of the country to destroy the ecology of Goa,” Patel said. Nearly 50,000 trees located in the Western Ghats region of Goa are slotted for felling for multiple central government projects which include expansion of railway lines and highways and drawing of a new high tension power, spread across protected forests and wildlife reserves in the Westrern Ghats. The projects have already been cleared by the National Wildlife Board for Wildlife in April this year. The Opposition as well as civil society groups and tourism stakeholders bodies have expressed apprehension over the projects, which they claim were being pushed at an “express pace” to facilitate movement of coal imported through the Mormugao Port Trust facility in Goa to steel mills in Karnataka’s Bellary-Hospet areas.