MAJORITY: Velim is a Catholic majority constituency though a number of the minority community have migrated to London.
By Gary Azavedo
Benjamin Silva, who has just joined the Congress, is confident of winning the Velim seat. Velim is part of the famous AVC (Assolna, Velim and Cuncolim) trio of constituencies which played a major role in the struggle against Portuguese colonial rule. Benjamin Silva, though a new comer to the Congress, has a record of social service.
It is almost confirmed that I will get the Velim Congress ticket,” Benjamin Silva
HAVING only recently joined the Congress party, the former Velim Independent MLA Benjamin Silva, is extremely confident of winning the Congress party nomination for the Velim constituency despite the stiff challenge posed to him by several other senior Congress aspirants.
In a tete-a-tete with GARY AZAVEDO the unassuming sportsperson bitterly lamented the lack of development in his Velim constituency, as he underscores the several development projects that were undertaken by him during his brief tenure between 2012-2017, particularly the sports complexes in the various villages of the Velim constituency.
GOAN OBSERVER (GO): Why do you think you are the best candidate for Velim constituency?
BENJAMIN SILVA (BS): In 2012, people voted for a change and I was elected as their legislator as an independent MLA. Since the MLA had been elected for the last 15 years but had done no development, especially as the basic amenities such as electricity and water were not provided to the constituents.
The electorate sought a change as the electricity poles were laid over 40-50 years back and there were innumerable frequent power interruptions of the power supply, besides the problem of supply of potable water throughout Velim constituency. I had undertaken a lot of development works. Hence, I think I am required for future development!
GO: In 2017 you had contested as an Independent candidate after supporting the BJP government, but lost that elections, why?
BS: The BJP already had a majority since they had their 21 MLAs elected, so I offered the BJP government outside support and undertook various development works. But at the fag end of my term, the people put a tag of “BJP” on me although the BJP had fielded their own candidate for the 2017 Goa legislative assembly polls. I lost only because of this BJP tag although I had undertaken several development works in Velim constituency.
GO: Why did you recently join the Congress party? There are several aspirants seeking the Congress party nomination for the Velim constituency, why do you feel you feel you will be given a party nomination?
BS: They (the other Congress aspirants) are not may not be able win the elections as you are aware that I have contested three elections, losing twice and winning once in 2012. When I first contested in 2007, I had received around 5,200-odd votes, then in the next elections held in 2012 I was elected as the Velim Independent MLA bagging approximately 13,000-odd votes.
In 2017, I again received around 5,000-odd votes although I lost that polls, but I have earned the respect of the electorate as I am a very simple man and I have not deprived my voters but instead done several development works. So you see I have a base of 5,000 votes while these other Velim Congress ticket aspirants have not even contested the assembly elections, so they don’t have any base. Hence, I am seeking the Congress party nomination from the Velim constituency.
GO: If you are denied the Congress party nomination, will you contest as an Independent or koin some other political party like the Trinamool Congress (TMC) for the forthcoming 2022 assembly elections?
BS: All the political parties have approached me but I am confident that I will obtain the Congress party nomination. There is absolutely no doubt that I will be denied the Congress party nomination. It is almost confirmed. So I have already commenced campaigning by meeting people in the Velim constituency and I have received a positive feedback that I am the right candidate for the Congress party, everyone I have met has assured me that they will vote for me.
GO: What does the Velim constituency lack that the present and past MLAs have miserably failed to achieve?
BS: I have already informed you of the development works that I have undertaken especially of the basic amenities such as electricity and water supply in the Velim constituency when I was elected as the Velim independent MLA in 2012. Since prior to being elected as the Velim independent MLA, the power and water supply was very erratic and presently the same situation persists. When I was elected as the Velim independent MLA in 2012, I had changed the over 40-50 year old electricity conductors and poles but still the people do not receive electricity 24X7 as there are frequent power interruptions throughout the Velim constituency. Similarly, there’s no water supply 24X7 in the Velim constituency.
Also, there’s much to be done in the education and healthcare sectors as when I was elected as the Velim independent MLA in 2012, I had created two sub-health centres at Assolna and Velim in addition to the already existing health centres at Chinchinim and Ambelim. There has been no upgradation of the facilities of these health centres undertaken by the present Velim BJP MLA Filipe Neri Rodrigues.
In sports, I had constructed two playgrounds at Ambelim (that is still functional) and at Tollecanto-Velim which has not been completed as the final tender for the playfield is yet to be issued. This is a massive stadium accommodating approximately 5,000 spectators with no other village in Goa possessing such facilities. But it is still not functional although more than Rs 20 crores has been spent on this project. I have also constructed a football ground at Dramapur, besides tenders being issued for football grounds at Sirlim and Sao Jose de Areal where the work has not commenced till date.
I had completed the pending development works proposed by the present Velim BJP MLA Filipe Neri Rodrigues after I defeated him in 2012 so he should have completed the proposed pending development works as the government is a continuous process.
GO: What is your vision and manifesto for the Velim constituency in 2022?
BS: The main issue is regarding unemployment particularly employment for the youth. Besides, the education, healthcare and sports fields that need improvement. I also want to save Goa.
GO: What are your views on defections especially by the Congress politicians who have now joined the BJP once again?
BS: It has already been declared that these 10 political defectors from the Congress to the BJP will not be taken back by the Congress party because it has been a massive blow to the electorate. These political defectors will not be admitted by any other political party.
GO: Who do you feel will be your main rival in the Velim constituency in the forthcoming Goa LA in 2022?
BS: It is quite obvious that my main rival in the forthcoming 2022 Goa legislative assembly polls in the Velim constituency will be present Velim BJP MLA Filipe Neri Rodrigues, he has been elected since the past two decades. Rodrigues knows how to divide the constituency and rule and get elected again and again.
room at Carxetta-Velim
- Construction of retaining walls of River Sal at Zuvem-Velim, River Band at Poklivoll-Velim, for the up-gradation of open space