‘GOA IS A SPECIAL PLACE IN INDIA…WE HAVE NATURE AND BEAUTY’

WALKING THE STREETS: Aam Aadmi Party’s Valmiki Naik on a door-to-door padyatra appealing for votes for cleaner politics in Panjim… “I see the Congress as just a BJP agent…they will fight amongst themselves but for the power they will come together in weird combinations. This nonsense must stop”

BY TARA NARAYAN

The Aam Aadmi Party younger generation of professionals, seeking more honest, cleaner and people-oriented politics for Goa and the rest of the country are not bogged down by historical ideologies of the past or grand Hindutva dreams of the future, says Tara Narayan. Life would be so much more worth living for the many if only as a people we stop being corrupt!

SOME folk get intimidated by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Valmiki Naik and think he is arrogant. They are wrong! Valmiki Naik who is fighting the forthcoming Panaji byelections as AAP’s candidate is hassled on a hot steaming day post-lunch, but he tries to clean up the paper clutter in his office, switches on the air-conditioning, before inviting me graciously to take a chair to share some thoughts about why he is an AAP politician — because he loves his home state of Goa with his heart! He would like to preserve the State’s identity, culture and environment in all the ways he can.
Ponjekars who share his vision of Panaji in future may vote for him in the Panaji by-elections coming up on May 21, 2019. As AAP’s candidate he is seeking cleaner politics — eliminating corruption is a primary on the AAP manifesto. From the sound of it AAP politicians are going to be a refreshingly different breed of politicians if they win elections in Goa or capital Delhi or state after state…they will usher in a more professional politics.
Valmiki’s slogan is “Hope & Honesty” — quite simply they are seeking a cleaner, more people-oriented politics for the country. Say he is just yet another decent professional who came back from abroad — a Master’s in civil engineering he spent 10 years in the US of A (Texas and California), then decided he did not want to continue to live the good American life, trade in his Indian passport for an American one…he returned to family and friends in the hope of living happily ever after in Goa.
But like the rest of the country Goa too is tainted by mega corruption, making life miserable for the aam aadmi Indian who is constantly fleeced without any commensurate improvement in the quality of public life. All of us are affected by bad governance (except the government of the day which rarely lives up to promises made to voters before being elected to power and incredible riches). Clearly an educated and disgusted Valmiki Naik saw in the Aam Aadmi Party movement a ray of hope. He joined the movement for a corruption-free India and like so many other young professional like him he is seeking a cleaner political environment — as much for himself as the people of Goa and India.
Many young people today think doing politics is a great business opportunity — personal business upfront, to make loads of money for self, biwi and bache at public expense. But the AAP officeholders and representatives have already proved themselves to be different, they’re not on a “it’s all about money, honey, trip!” In fact, remembers Valmiki Naik, AAP was born with Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption in government, Arvind Kejriwal and many of them joined in the protests, writing letters, fasting, etcetera. It was when all such passive efforts failed that Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and others who shared common cause for better politics, decided to make it a political movement.
THE greenhorns of the Aam Aadmi party have come a long way in learning and understanding the inside out of politics in India and are no longer political innocents. He says, “Goa’s identity, culture, natural beauty…is precious! It’s our love for Goa which will make it happen…if you want a change for the better you have to participate to make it happen!” Valmiki offers Delhi as an example of what Goa can be like…in four years the AAP government has won the hearts of Delhites and is now in a win-win situation — AAP has delivered “85% of the promises made in our manifesto!”

NEW WAVE: Give AAP a chance to make a clean sweep of the dirty cesspool of politics in Goa


Take a look at the AAP manifesto, he urges, “It never changes, our manifesto is our Bible, Gita, Koran!” They take the promises they’ve made to their voters very seriously and in Delhi the quality of life of the aam aadmi has improved tremendously and is internationally praised. A lot yet needs to be done of course but if it can happen in Delhi it can happen in Goa too — only if more Goans take a fresh look at AAP and vote for them. It’s been a slow and steady fight to win respect amongst voters and AAP has educated aam aadmi about how the government works and “the need to stop being sussegad if Goa’s identity and heritage is to be saved.”
Of course Goa’s identity has been under attack with the current dispensation which is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — we have seen for ourselves the levels of corruption, the casino culture coming in along with other evils associated with a casino culture, the pollution of the river Mandovi, the uncontrolled migration of non-Goans, the mining story of exploitation, the constant compromising with the CRZ — “this is because the BJP takes its orders from Delhi and Delhi doesn’t see Goa as a special place in India…Goa is only for exploiting natural resources!”
All that the BJP has done, says Valmiki Naik, is turn Goa into a state of “white elephants…for example they’ve spent 50 crores for a car parking building at the jetty which nobody uses, that’s a white elephant. Another pukka building is now coming up to cater to casino business right on the river at Captain of Ports wharf…Rs 300 crore is being spent on catering to casinos!” There are so many lobbies anxious to destroy Goa! If he wins in the forthcoming Panaji by-elections all this will be of concern to AAP naturally. The irony is that the BJP’s annual budget of15,000 crore has `300 crore to give back to casino infrastructure but little money for streets maintenance or taking care of the monumental garbage situation and other far more important issues like water, electricity, improving public transport and other services to improve life in Goa for common people. Since AAP’s ideology draws strength from the people and is people-oriented there is no question of joining hands with any other party and least of all the BJP….
Valmiki Naik sees the BJP-Congress-MGP-Goa Forward as a big ghatbandhan to stay in power for larger slices of the cake! Contrary to other opinions he is positive, “This time I believe Ponjekars have seen through BJP-Congress/Babush Monserrate game plans… Babush has a history of betrayals and he has no patience. Babush in Congress clothing is still Babush! He will jump to whatever side convenient to be a minister. Vishwajit Rane is like him. They is no party loyalty or loyalty to any ideology…Babush or Sidharth Kuncalienker, both talk of re-developing Panaji into an endless construction boom!”
Of course if the people give AAP a chance to prove itself as a party with a difference it will undo all the random mess up of Outline Development Plan, Coastal Regulations Zone ….redress all issues along a planned manner and in consultation with what the people of Panaji want.
Valmiki appeals to voters, please see through the Congress-BJP combo theatrics which have turned Panaji into a nightmare, “I live in Panaji and I too suffer on a daily basis along with other Ponjekars!”
Yes, he reiterates, “I see the Congress as just a BJP agent…they will fight amongst themselves but for the power they will come together in weird combinations. This nonsense must stop for it is at the larger cost of people’s aspirations and hopes….”
So there you are, if you’re asking me, I too sympathize and empathize with the Aam Aadmi Party and see it as a serious option this Panaji by-elections and if they win, says Valmiki Naik passionately, “We will be like a shock wave to politics and we will make positive changes for a better Panaji to live in.”
Come to think of it as a Ponjekar I would place my bets on AAP and Valmiki Naik — just because this by-elections is the final call for Ponjekars’ to help rescue their beloved Panaji from the clutches of….a deadly combination of business-minded politicians! Political power in a democracy is a people’s trust and never meant to be abused as a business for private profiteering.

VALMIKI NAIK
AAP, Panaji, 2019
A few frequently asked questions…. Q. We want to defeat BJP at all costs. Won’t your contesting only help the BJP win again? Answer: There is a gross misunderstanding that in the last elections, AAP split Babush’s votes and helped Sidharth (Kuncolienker) win. This is completely incorrect, and in fact, contrary to the polling data and booth analysis. Let us examine the facts. There were two Assembly elections in Panaji in 2017 – the general election in February which AAP contested against Babush and Sidharth, and the by-election in August which AAP did not contest against Parrikar and Girish (Chodankar). In the February election that AAP contested, the BJP got about 2,000 votes less and Congress got about 1,800 votes less, then the August elections. This demonstrates that AAP took away more votes form BJP than Congress. This is also reconfirmed by the booth analysis which showed that Valmiki performed strongly in many polling booths where Sidharth had performed well in his previous election, even defeating Sidharth in one of the booths (No.12). Additionally, the voting turnout crossed the 17,000 mark for the first time ever in Panaji’s history in the February election when AAP contested, but fell back to 15,500 in the August elections when AAP did not contest. This demonstrates that AAP brought out many voters who voted only for AAP and who would otherwise not have come out to vote at all. Q. But isn’t Babush on a Congress ticket the only one in a position to keep the BJP out? Can we forget that Babush is the same person who withdrew from the August 2017 election in favour of Parrikar and worked to defeat the Congress candidate , while AAP withdrew from the same election in favor of Congress. Can we forget that Babush is the same person who withdrew from the February 2015 by-election in favor of BJP and worked against the Congress candidate Surendra Furtado and helped Sidharth win his first election? Can we forget that Babush is the same person who has consistently abandoned and ditched the Congress in favour of BJP, so much so that he was even banned from the party for six years. But since they have no candidate, they have shamelessly taken this BJP Agent back. In fact, if AAP did not contest now, there was every likelihood that Babush would have withdrawn from the contest at the last minute in order to give the BJP candidate an easy victory. Even if he wins this election now, there is still every likelihood that this BJP Agent will break the Congress party itself and move a faction of 7 -8 of their MLAs to the BJP after the elections, especially if Congress loses by-elections in Mapusa, Mandrem and Shiroda and if Modi comes back to power at the Centre. Will Babush be able to say no to Amit Shah’s offers of money and power and risk being prosecuted in all his serious criminal cases? Q. Panaji was represented by the CM of Goa for so many years and it’s still in a mess. What will you be able to do if you are just one MLA, that too from an Opposition party? On May 19 Ponjekars will be voting in an Assembly election for the fifth time in seven years. Add to this the constant infighting in the CCP, as well as the political turmoil at the State level, and it is obvious that Panaji has seen more of politics and less of governance in the past few years. Another reason most MLAs are not able to perform is that they either don’t care to solve an issue which doesn’t give them an immediate personal or political benefit (eg: St Inez Creek or Traffic), or their hands are tied by their funding lobbies and political bosses (eg: casinos). Neither I nor my party have these handicaps, nor will we let petty politics get in the way of delivery. We will fight fearlessly to claim everything that is due to the city and people of Panaji, and we will work night and day to fulfil our promises. I would like to bring your attention to the main proposal in our manifesto, which is the “ward sabhas.” In order to bypass the political bickering, overlapping departments, and other inefficiencies and excuses that get in the way of service delivery, we propose to have ward wise public meetings in which I, as your MLA, along with the local Councillor, PWD engineer, junior engineer and other public officials will appear together in front of you and hear your issues. So that solutions can be discussed and agreed upon on the spot. Ward sabhas will enable administrative and financial decisions to be taken faster and the elected representatives, including me, will be held accountable by the people on a regular basis. I am a qualified civil engineer with extensive experience in public works and project management and I have lived and worked in Panaji for decades. I have the support of capable leaders like Elvis Gomes who has 20 years of administrative experience including in Panaji and CCP. We know what the city’s main issues are, and we know how to solve them. Q. We voted for you the last time, why did we not see much activity after the elections? A: In the two years since the 2017 elections AAP has taken up a lot of issues at the State level such as river nationalization, CRZ notification and the Coal Hub issue right here in Panaji. AAP was the party that stormed the casino office that had brazenly encroached on our river promenade, and did not budge till the encroachment was demolished right then and there. I have filed a public interest litigation on the issue of formalin in fish which is ongoing in the High Court, and I will fight this case till the people who are poisoning us are brought to justice. I have filed various RTIs related to the so-called Smart City program for Panaji and in time we will expose the scams involved. We have highlighted the disastrous rankings for Panaji in the “Ease of Living” index as well as well as the Swachch Survekshan survey. We can and will do a lot more in Panaji, and I humbly apologize if we let you down, and assure that we are building up the party organisation to be a potent voice for people of Panaji. We were supposed to have the next election only three years later, but now that it is here, I seek your support again not just to raise the issues but to give me a chance to resolve them once and for all.

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