Late Manoharbhai had promised ticket to Delilah in 2022: Lobo
Political parties have to respect senior leaders: Lobo
We have been seeing hectic political activities these days with regional parties of other states venturing into Goa and inducting local politicians, announcing freebies and so on. In Goan politics, there is a buzz that Minister Michael Lobo is switching sides to Congress. Lobo has been grabbing headlines off late. Recently he is in the news for announcing that his wife would contest assembly elections from Siolim come what may. In a tete-a-tete with Goemkarponn Editor SURAJ NANDREKAR, Lobo says his wife is independent and free to make her own decision. He also talks about the meeting in Delhi, where he was summoned by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Goemkarponn: Welcome, Michaelbab…You have been in the news off late after the announcement of your wife Delilah Lobo contesting polls. Can you tell us what the whole issue is about and on which party ticket she would contest?
Michael Lobo: There are lots of speculations that leaders are moving. Senior leader of the Congress party Luizinho Faleiro moved to a new party in Goa TMC. He said so many things that he was sidelined etc. We have seen a lot of other leaders being approached by various parties. Between all this, I was also called to Delhi by Home Minister Amit Shah, and he spoke about the political scenario in the State of Goa. During the discussions, he said that there were rumours that I wanted to leave the party and join another political party. I explained to him these are just rumours, last elections also such rumours were there and I stayed back and we formed the government.
Goemkarponn: Please continue…
Michael Lobo: The question of leaving does not arise only because my wife wants to contest elections. It is her own independent decision. She has been working in that constituency for long time as Siolim is on the boundary of our village. My wife travels there everyday to get the works done. People there are unhappy that work has not happened in that constituency for last 25 years. Some basic needs like roads, electricity and water people are not provided. These problems also exist in my Calangute constituency, but we are working on them.
Now people in Siolim want she should contest from Siolim. Although I am an MLA, I cannot stop her.
Moreover, she was supposed to contest from Saligao in 2017, and she had to sacrifice because Manoharbhai Parrikar came to our house three months before that elections and asked her to withdraw, promising her a ticket in 2022. So she waited for five years, and now she has decided to contest as an independent.
Goemakrponn: Did you tell the high command that Parrikar had promised her this?
Michael Lobo: The question does not arise as the discussion of Delilah Lobo contesting did not figure in the Delhi meeting. Amitabha spoke to me for 35 minutes, but the issue was not discussed at all. When Mr Fadnavis was here, I told him, and my wife also told him that she was contesting as an independent candidate from the Siolim constituency. She told him that her contesting should not be a hurdle for the party or my husband as she is not asking for the party ticket. Now, if she is not asking for a party ticket, I inform the party high command.
The issue arises when she is claiming the ticket. If the party decides to give her a ticket, that will be a different issue.
Goemakrponn: We understand your wife is already a sarpanch in Parra, which falls in the Calangute constituency. But why does she want to contest from Siolim?
Michael Lobo: It is our neighbouring constituency. If people don’t want, she will not contest. The final decision will be taken in November. She is an independent woman and has taken her own decision.
Goemakrponn: You very well know dynastic politics or family isn’t largely accepted in BJP still, you took such a decision?
Michael Lobo: I can only say I am contesting, and I am a two-time sitting MLA from Calangute. My wife is contesting as an independent. So, where is the problem? She has been in politics for the last 15 years; you see her work and tell me. She is getting elected on her own. She wants to contest the election, and she has every right to take her decision. In politics, we have seen that Vishwajit and his daddy, Babush and his wife are there in politics and getting elected because they are working for the people. The question of dynastic politics does not arise.
Goemakrponn: You spoke about water, roads and electricity issues in Siolim, but these issues also exist in Calangute?
Michael Lobo: The road in Baga has sunk because of manholes, which are entirely related to the sewerage network of JICA project wherein Rs 200 cr has been invested, but it has not been successful. We have initiated projects on water issues, and once completed, the problems will be sorted out.
Goemakrponn: If there is so much pressure on basic facilities, why there is no moratorium on new constructions in Calangute till all this is solved?
Michael Lobo: If you say you do not give construction licences to houses or flat systems, they go to court. The court says the local authority has to provide drinking water to each household to a villa and building. We are duty bound to give uninterrupted water supply to the people of our constituency. For several years none of the PWD Ministers has thought about how the water will reach the tail end in the North Goa coastal belt. We need 20 MLD water every day and get just 12 MLD. So the shortage is 8MLD. Hence, people get water every alternate day. We are working on a new pipeline and various other water augmentation projects.
Goemakrponn: You have been on record saying Goa has given you everything. What is exact reason for the wife to contest? Doesn’t it look like more hunger for power? What is the difference between you and Other families who are hungry for more and more power?
Michael Lobo: You look at the situation in the Siolim constituency. People will tell you. In teh past, we have helped people to win elections, but they do not work. MLA has to work and solve the people’s issues. People have to talk about them. Now, people think we will come there and make a difference. Let people decide; if they don’t want, they will not vote for us. My wife will work daily and not once a week.
Goemakrponn: Why were you summoned to Delhi. Could you tell us what was discussed in Delhi with Amit Shah?
Michael Lobo: You can ask Mr Fadnavis; there was no discussion of my wife contesting. They discussed the surveys were done and so and so wast the result. He said that there were rumours that I was leaving the party and that being in the party for 15 years should not take such a step. I explained to them that there is nothing like that; maybe there are differences of opinion with party leaders. Maybe they have not liked what I said publicly.
Goemakrponn: So what is your future plan? Congress? the party you engineered a split two years ago? Or you will contest on BJP ticket and wife as an independent?
Michael Lobo: I am not involved in engineering any split in Congress. I was part of it at last minute. They had spoken to BJP high command before I got involved.
On which party I will join only time to say. I am in one party for 15 years. Now elections are four months away. So a lot of people are guessing about political leaders. I am very comfortable where I am, and we will see that the right people get elected to the party. I do not want to comment about joining any other political party at the moment. Anybody is free to go anywhere. BJP had 13 MLAs and today we have 27 as other MLAs switched over.they never said they will leave their party. This continues in politics. My track record says you have been in the party for 15 years since I was ZP member.
Goemakrponn: If you have no intentions of joining Congress. Why your opponents Agnel Fernandes, Joseph Sequeira and Anthony Menezes have openly revolted against moves to induct you?
Michael Lobo: The opponents are scared; they are scared of their own shadow. Why are they discussing me when I am not their party’s member. I am not saying anything to them.
Goemakrponn: It is being said that you want parties to give sweeping powers to choose candidates in Bardez. Is this true? This has also upset the leaders there?
Michael Lobo: People come to me from various constituencies like Mapusa, Saligao, Siolim, Aldona. I don’t say they are my constiuencies, but I can influence in some way people feel if I campaign. Hence, it is thought that I can make a difference in Bardez. MLA’s complain because they are not working, and whenever someone comes to me, I help them. Which they do not want. I have helped Mandrem, Pernem, Siolim and Anjuna manage waste by bringing waste management plants in my constituency.
Goemakrponn: What do you feel about the elections 2022. With several new parties are entering, like AAP and TMC, where does Congress and BJP stand?
Michael Lobo Every leader says that my party is good. People have to see who has worked. To talk is easy, but work is difficult. The last time we saw many leaders sent home by people because they did not work for the people, there was no connection with them.
Goemakrponn:. Will their entry impact regional parties?
Michael Lobo There is no impact. AAP and TMC can be called national parties. They are going to talk about national issues and cannot understand local issues. AAP can talk national politics, but the local leaders can take local matters. The freebies announced cannot be given as government is paying DSSS, mining is stopped, tourism is not yet kicked off. These freebies cannot be provided. To borrow and give freebies is easy. But to take Rs 25 k cr loan to Rs 40 k cr loan will not take time.
Goemakrponn:. Where does the BJP stand today? Do you think the anti-incumbency factor would affect them?
Michael Lobo: There are some issues, people have opposed some projects, and I too am against them but think projects like IIT cannot be resisted. I think we need IIT, but not at the earlier place in Shel Melauli. The government has to look into this and get the issues sorted. The think tank will have to take care of what people want and take corrective measures.
Goemakrponn:. Recently, you were seen very active in your support of taxis on free digital meters. But the taxi owners say you were hand in glove with govt and only supporting them due to elections?
Michael Lobo: I was only upset about one thing the customer has to be given a bill. But I do not support Goa MIles. Here in Goa, people don’t use taxis, and Goa Miles is not needed. Why should local taxis be deprived of business? How can they allow the Goa Miles taxis to come and take the customers from hotels when they wait for hours. A Digital meter can be installed, but taxis say Goa Miles should be shut. If taxi owners fit meters, why there should be Goa Miles operating.
Goemakrponn:. The final question on the political future?
Michael Lobo: See, I am a senior person in the party. A senior leader does not think of leaving until and unless he takes a very drastic step. When a person takes a drastic step, it is in the interest of his people and teh State. I will not do anything in my interest. I have got everything from God. I am a senior leader in BJP, and senior leaders don’t quit the party just like that. You have seen Luizinho why he left as he was sidelined. The political parties also have to give the person the required respect