Assembly polls 2022: South Goan voters want income avenues, not turncoats

In 2017, Congress had won a majority of the 20 Assembly constituencies before almost all winning candidates defected to BJP.
Former Goa CM Digambar Kamat (File photo| PTI)
Former Goa CM Digambar Kamat (File photo| PTI)

PANAJI: South Goa is dominated by Catholic Christians. They want protection of agricultural land, trees and sanctuaries. The region has 20 Assembly constituencies. In 2017, Congress had won a majority of them before almost all of them defected to BJP.

Margao MLA and former CM Digambar Kamat was the only one not to leave the party. He is contesting from the same seat this year. Goa goes to polls on February 14.

William Barrister is a resident of Matolward village. The 43-year-old says that due to the widening of a National Highway, people were displaced. As a result, the 500 voters of his village got segregated.

"Goa did not need such four-lane roads and bridges. Ours is a very small state. We have limited land that we want to protect and preserve. But the government here is constructing one big road or bridge after another. There should be strong laws to protect land and wildlife," said Barrister.

Deputy sarpanch of his village, Barrister added, "Goa is a peaceful and beautiful place with rivers and thick forest. The road has not only divided our village into two parts, families have also got separated families due to this so-called development. Even to meet relatives, we have to cross this road. Crossing it has become a troublesome exercise. Why should our children put their lives in danger just to cross a road? This highway has becomes an accident-prone spot. In the last two months, five accidents took place at this."

Last time, this constituency had elected Congress candidate Wilfred De Souza. "We campaigned for him and went door to door. After elections, in a few months, De Souza left Congress and joined BJP. Now, he is contesting as an Independent. He knows that if he contests on a BJP ticket, we will not vote for him. He thinks people are fools and will vote for him again," said Michael Mathew, a local.

Romeo Albuket, a resident of Cutorim in south Goa, used to work in a cruise ship. "I used to earn Rs 50,000 per month, but since the outbreak of the pandemic, I am at home. I searched in vain for jobs in Goa. No one wants to pay more than Rs 10,000 per month. Prices of fish, meat and oil have increased manyfold. The government is neither giving jobs nor allowances to unemployed youths," he said.

Almada Fernandes, a resident of Margo, grows vegetables in her tiny land and sells them by the roadside. She says her income is not sufficient to meet the family’s demands. "If there is no work on my farm, I go to construction sites. They pay only Rs 400 or Rs 500 per day for such heavy labour. The government should make a law so that these employers offer better pay. My kids are small and my husband does not work due to bad health," she said.

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