Panaji: Bharatiya Janata Party general secretary (organisation) B L Santhosh arrived in Goa on Wednesday on a two-day visit that has been described by the state BJP leadership as a “routine” visit.
BL Santhosh’s visit coincides with reports of increasing differences between Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant and health minister Vishwajit Rane.
Goa BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade said Santhosh’s visit didn’t have anything to do with speculation about relations between the two party leaders.
“He (Santhosh) is here for organisation (work). We undertake many programmes as a party organisation, he will discuss that. He will hold meetings with the booth, mandals, and state party officials,” Tanavade said. Goa is expected to vote early next year before the 40-member assembly’s term expires in March.
Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant said there was no rift.
“There are no differences between me and the health minister. There is no misunderstanding. We may have different views on issues, but when it comes to the cabinet, when it comes to the government, when it comes to the state, it is one,” Sawant said.
Sawant and Rane were once leaders of rival political parties before Vishwajit Rane crossed over from the Congress to the BJP in April 2017 and became health minister in the government led by Manohar Parrikar. Pramod Sawant went along with Rane when he became chief minister but the two are not believed to be on the best of terms.
Their perceived differences widened when Covid-19 cases were rising in the state. Vishwajit Rane was seen to obliquely blame Sawant for not imposing restrictions in the state that led to a spike in Covid cases. When deaths linked to oxygen supply disruptions were reported at the state’s premier Goa Medical College and Hospital ran last month. Chief minister Pramod Sawant made it a point to emphasise that the problem wasn’t shortage of oxygen but ‘mismanagement’, a remark that was seen aimed at the health minister.