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Ticket tangle: Kamat says a person should not be denied a ticket just because he is somebody’s son.  Photo: Rakesh Mundye/Mint

Ticket tangle: Kamat says a person should not be denied a ticket just because he is somebody’s son. Photo: Rakesh Mundye/Mint

Only God and Sonia can tell who will become the CM

Only God and Sonia can tell who will become the CM

Panaji/Bangalore: Digambar Kamat is the first chief minister to complete the full term of five years since Goa attained statehood in 1987. Before Kamat took over as chief minister, Goa had seen 15 governments in the 20 years between 1987 and 2007. Originally a Congressman, Kamat had defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the mid-1990s before returning in 2005. In an interview, Kamat speaks about the prospects of the Congress-NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) combine in the assembly polls on 3 March. Edited excerpts:

You’ve completed five years as chief minister. What are your achievements?

Ticket tangle: Kamat says a person should not be denied a ticket just because he is somebody’s son. Photo: Rakesh Mundye/Mint

We have provided laptops to all students in class XI. For any student going to the IITs (Indian Institutes of Technology) or IIMs (Indian Institutes of Management) from Goa, we bear their tuition fee and hostel fee. This has helped not only the poor, but also the middle class. For SC/ST students, we are bearing the entire cost of education. In the health sector, we have started mobile health clinics which can go to villages and are equipped with X-ray machines, cardiogram machines and a pathology lab.

Opposition leader Manohar Parrikar says that only government jobs have been created in the last few years. Why so many government jobs?

Well, government jobs were created because we need them. We created Dharbandora taluka (administrative subdivision) recently, and we need more people to work at the new offices over there. During the last five years, many industries have come and expanded. Today, if you go to Verna (a village in South Goa district), it is considered to be one of the best industrial estates in the country.

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Digambar Kamat talks about mining in Goa and why he isn’t too perturbed about the latest ticket controversy.

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So what are your plans if voters elect you again?

We want to implement the universal health coverage scheme. We have started a Suvarna Jayanti Bima Yojana scheme on the?occasion?of?the golden jubilee of our state, but the code of conduct is preventing us from issuing cards. We will create a four-lane highway, and we want to complete a few bridges to clear some of the bottlenecks on the national highway.

How have you dealt with the controversies over ticket allocation, especially multiple members from the same family being given tickets?

In a democracy, a person who has the chance to get elected should be given the ticket. He should not be denied just because he is somebody’s son. If you thrust someone on people, people will reject your candidate.

How will the party deal with the perception that illegal mining has been going on a large scale?

Firstly, there are no reports saying illegal mining is going on in Goa. Many cases against mining firms have been filed and we have also imposed fines close toRs 180 crore. Not a single mining lease or even a prospecting licence has been given by the government. There are 95 applications and 700 prospecting applications pending with the government, but?no licence has been issued.

There are reports that you may not become the chief minister if your party is re-elected?

I was not in the race in 2007. It was Mrs (Sonia) Gandhi who made me the chief minister and I have not let her down. I have given a stable government. After the election I cannot say who will become the chief minister, only God can tell and Mrs Gandhi can tell.

shamsheer.y@livemint.com

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