If you cannot understand political strategy, how could I explain it? I did not join Vajpayee when he wanted just one vote, and his government collapsed. I felt Vajpayee was the right person in the wrong party. After all, Bajrang Dal Vishwahindu Parishad groups were part of its group. I, Reginaldo, Babush Monseratte, Victoria might have given external support to BJP. I am not greedy for politics, my friend. If I have rendered my support to the government, then it was given considering my constituency’s development; otherwise, who would have done development here? You?
I am not greedy for CM’s chair, Cong not serious on defeating BJP: Churchill
Former Chief Minister and sitting Benaulim MLA Churchill Alemao makes no bones of his issue-based support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a tete-ate with Goemkarponn Editor SURAJ NANDREKAR.
Goemkarponn: What were the reasons for joining TMC? Was it because your daughter Valanka was denied an NCP ticket?
Churchill Alemao (CA): No, my daughter is not dependent on me. I have not forced her to come into politics. She is a politician herself. Sharad Pawar told me that Congress would undoubtedly give us eight seats in the alliance. In that hope, eight months passed. I went to talk to Dinesh Gundu Rao, but I was told he was out of the station. However, on the same night, I saw a picture of Vijai Sardessai, Rahul Gandhi and Gundu Rao announcing the alliance. Again, when I met Gundu Rao and Digambar Kamat, I asked them whether there was a Cong-NCP alliance happening, he said no.
After a few days, I thought of Mamta Banerjee (didi), whom I have known since 1996. She has been a fighter and taking issues. I saw that she was fearlessly working and when Luizinho Faleiro left Congress and joined TMC, he told me that I was needed in the party. So I joined TMC.
Goemkarponn: Churchill bab, you started your political career decades ago, but why haven’t you been stable in one political party?
CA: You show me one politician who has remained with one political party. Then why are you asking me this question? Sardinha became Chief Minister, Alex Sequeira was in the ministry of Parrikar. Pratapsing Rane, who was initially into MGP, later joined Congress. I am the leader of people, and they have supported me in every decision I have taken; people have voted for me.
Goemkarponn: Why did you sever your ties with Congress in 2017, pre and post elections?
CA: The reason was simple, Congress was not serious in forming a government. Neither was it serious in giving tickets to me in 2017 nor did it want to form a government after getting 17 seats.
I gave them at least two opportunities in 2017 after the elections and after Parrikar’s demise in 2019, but they were not interested despite having a majority.
They wasted 14 days after Parrikar’s death but failed to form a government. Because of corruption, they could not form a government. They were scared that they might go behind bars. I noticed this and understood that they won’t form a government,
Goemkarponn: Now you are going to the people asking for votes on the TMC symbol. What has been the response from the people?
CA: It is good, and I can tell you that all over Goa, there has been a good response to TMC. The schemes which TMC introduced, looking at them, many political parties have got frustrated.
Goemkarponn: In your opinion, how many seats do you think TMC will win in Goa?
CA: We will form the government. We have a TMC-MGP alliance that will form the government, and whoever wants to form the government will come to us.
Goemkarponn: In Benaulim, it is said that the Aam Admi Party will be your main opponent; what do you think?
CA: AAP is a “B” team of BJP. The last time AAP filled pockets, they have spent money like anything. Where does this money come from? It is a one-man show. To win an election in Benaulim, I am the strong candidate. Nobody is stronger than me in Benaulim. In Benaulim for Congress, four aspirants were Gina, Pitu, Royala and Micky. Now the scene in Congress is to give money and take the party ticket. There have been many people who are working to defeat Churchill. I have full faith in my people from Benaulim, who never left me and have always supported me.
Goemkarponn: Despite knowing what happened in 2012, you are still adamant about fielding your daughter. Why?
CA: Even in 2012, there was no chance of defeating me. When Parrikar was there, he confessed that he and Kamat manipulated the EVM machines. I had done so much work in Navelim like constructing roads, sewerage work etc. The entire support was with me then how can anyone defeat me?
Goemkarponn: You have claimed that TMC is going to form the government. But two leaders left TMC recently. Lavu Mamledar and Reginaldo, what is your take on this?
CA: Lavu was made MLA by Sudib Dhavlikar; because of some issue between themselves, Lavu left. Talking about Reginaldo, I was the person to get Reginaldo elected. Who elected me is the people who made me a leader. So please don’t refer to someone as a leader before me, whom I made a leader. Initially, Reginaldo joined TMC after getting a ticket from Congress; again, after he was declared ticket in TMC, he left; you should ask him why he did so? It is not any harm to us.
Goemakrponn: If TMC forms the government, what will be your role? Are you going to claim the Chief Ministerial post?
CA: No, I am not a greedy politician. When I was not a politician, that time also I fought for my people; Konkani mother language years ago, we did bandh of 10 days all over Goa for Roman Konkani script. At that time, Late Dr Willy forcefully gave me a ticket when I was not at all much educated, but I got elected. I do not have the greed to become Chief Minister. When I got elected in the past, there was a demand that Goa has a minority Chief Minister and many politicians. When I thought to make Barbosa Chief Minister, everyone wanted me to become Chief Minister. Therefore, I got an opportunity to become Chief Minister for just 19 days in that I managed to pass four major projects, Tilari Water project, Konkan railway project, overbridge of Margao, Goa to Delhi train. V. P Singh was Prime Minister then, and George Fernandes was a railway minister. I am not greedy for power, but I am more concerned to help poor people. So who will become Chief Minister and what is not my concern.
Goemkarponn: You joined TMC only to defeat BJP. But it was in seen that in the Assembly, you were always supporting BJP. Please comment.
CA: If you cannot understand political strategy, how could I explain it? I did not join Vajpayee when he wanted just one vote, and his government collapsed. I felt Vajpayee was the right person in the wrong party. After all, Bajrang Dal Vishwahindu Parishad groups were part of its group. I, Reginaldo, Babush Monseratte, Victoria might have given external support to BJP. I am not greedy for politics, my friend. If I have rendered my support to the government, then it was given considering my constituency’s development; otherwise, who would have done development here? You?
Goemkarponn: People say you supported BJP because the government was funding your football club; how true is this?
CA: My friend, I have spent so much on a football game. When Parrikar as Chief Minister, he had recognized Football as a state sport. He also came up with the scheme to support Football which benefitted four football clubs. The support which we get for this sport from the government is peanuts. Nobody, including BJP, didn’t do any favour on me. Jealous people tend to speak anything. Whenever certain things I felt wrong, for example, CAA bill etc. I did not support. Now the people who have not spent a rupee on Football are talking such things against Churchill Alemao. I have helped Dr Pramod Sawant since he comes from the downtrodden section. Here people dethrone Chief Minister from under-privileged communities. There are examples such as Dr.Wiley, Barbosa who were dethroned immediately, Churchill left the CM position in the past. Therefore I extended my issue-based support to Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant as I consider him as the best person. I salute him for his Governance.
Goemkarponn: Now that you are praising Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant, you had criticized him on three linear projects. Please comment.
CA: My friend, Governance is a continuous process, so whichever these two tracks (double railway tracking) have taken place, you need to see when and who brought these projects. It came when Digambar was in power. Here there is a Dabolim airport; they could have expanded Dabolim instead of Mopa. But who brought Mopa, it was Congress.