Mumbai: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah and Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal will be in poll-bound Goa over the weekend to hold meetings with party supporters and prominent individuals. While Shah will spend some hours in Goa on Saturday, the Delhi chief minister will camp in the coastal state till Monday, functionaries from the two parties said. Assembly elections in Goa are likely to be held next March and the incumbent BJP government is facing a serious challenge from AAP.
Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said Shah would hold a meeting with BJP’s booth-level workers on Saturday evening. “He will meet around 9,000 booth workers and later BJP legislators,” Tendulkar said. Shah will leave Goa on the same day. The BJP Goa president reckons that Shah’s reputation as a meticulous planner and mobilizer of the BJP’s booth management machinery will help the party achieve success similar to the parliamentary election results in Uttar Pradesh in 2014.
On 22 August, Hansraj Ahir, BJP MP from Chandrapur in Maharashtra and Union minister of state for home affairs, will also take part in the BJP’s Independence Day celebrations called ‘70 saal azaadi’.
A Goa BJP legislator, who did not wish to be named, admitted the party “needed to put in lot of hard work to retain power in 2017”. “The support that we received from a cross-section of people in 2012 elections has clearly ebbed. Even our core supporters are not entirely happy with the government’s performance in Goa and the way some issues have been handled, like the medium of instruction in schools. It is a challenging time for us,” the legislator said.
Kejriwal, who has visited Goa twice in the last four months, will have a more extensive and diverse outreach during his three-day programme, beginning Saturday.
Apart from meeting local AAP functionaries and workers, Kejriwal will engage with people who are economically dependent on Goa’s mining industry. Though the ban on mining in the state has been lifted, all activity is suspended during monsoon since the pits are open. AAP Goa’s media team functionary Rupesh Shinkre said Kejriwal “would meet transporters, truck drivers, barge operators, machinery handlers, and virtually everyone who is economically dependent on the mining industry”. “There are many issues with the mining industry in Goa. Though the legal ban has been lifted, the activity will resume only around October. The people dependent on this industry have no other means of livelihood,” Shinkre said.
On Sunday, the AAP chief will interact with Goa’s Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities. ST communities account for 10.2% of Goa’s population as per the 2011 Census, and most of them are dependent on agriculture. Shinkre said no other political party in Goa has approached the issues confronting the ST communities the way AAP was. “Our engagement is not political. The interaction with tribals is not an AAP event and anyone can join,” he said.