The differences within the BJP-led government over the mining issue came to the fore on Tuesday with three party MLAs making it clear that their allegiances were with the mining-affected people rather than with the government.
Legislators from the mining belt, Subhash Phal Dessai (Sanguem), Ganesh Gaonkar (Sanvordem) and Pramod Sawant (Sanquelim) were present and addressed the rally called in Panaji by the Goa Mining People's Front.Phal Dessai, the most vociferous of the three, came down heavily on "all those who are either opposing the resumption of mining or who have passed orders halting mining activities in the state". In a speech laden with political overtones, he slammed his own party's Manohar Parrikar-led government.
"We want to know whether this government will survive or not? It is not like the BJP government is relaxed on the issue… we will not let anybody relax… four to five MLAs will always raise the issue of mining with chief minister Manohar Parrikar," thundered Phal Dessai. His name has featured prominently in recent backroom chats for the differences he has with Parrikar on the mining issue.
"If any restriction is imposed on us as BJP (members) or MLAs we will not listen. People have elected me because I am connected with mining," said Phal Dessai.
He admitted that there "is a misunderstanding, we should also ask who brought the Shah Commission to Goa". (The commission was appointed last year by the central government to investigate illegal mining in the state).
Referring to the period between the commission submitting its report to Parliament and a PIL being filed in the Supreme Court by NGO Goa Foundation, Phal Dessai said, "The CM had called the MLAs from the mining belt and had informed us that the government would suspend mining for 15 days so that the Supreme Court does not hold the neck of mining-dependant people. We told the CM that whatever you have decided is right. It is unfortunate that despite the action initiated by the state government some people approached the Supreme Court and without consulting the state government the Supreme Court halted mining activities in the state."
He also slammed the apex court for its interference, "The Supreme Court should dissolve all state and central governments and should run the governments."
Gaonkar told the people that "all four MLAs (from the mining belt) keep a watch on the government's decisions and if the government takes a wrong decision we bring it to the notice of the government".
"We are concerned about the content of the affidavit being filed before the Supreme Court. We also discuss the mining issue with chief minister Manohar Parrikar and he is taking the right decision because of which we have not spoken anything till date," said Gaonkar.
Sanquelim MLA Pramod Sawant said, "We don't know who has done illegal mining and we will fight in the assembly and outside the assembly to start legal mining in the state."
The fourth legislator from the mining belt, Curchorem MLA Nilesh Cabral, is currently out of the state. [TOI]