Independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar has announced withdrawal of support to the BJP government in Goa after a war of words with chief minister Pramod Sawant, who had publicly accused him of attempting to do ‘setting’ over the acquisition of land for establishing an IIT in Goa. Gaonkar had lent his support to the BJP-led government in Goa since 2017.
Gaonkar, a first time MLA, elected as an independent from the Sanguem constituency, has in a press conference, termed the chief minister’s utterances as irresponsible and completely unwarranted.
“I have supported this BJP government through thick and thin earlier when Manohar Parrikar was the chief minister and they didn’t have the majority and even after Pramod Sawant was elected the chief minister,” Gaonkar said.
“I challenge the chief minister to prove that I have been involved in any kind of land deals or ‘setting’ as alleged by him,” Gaonkar said.
On Monday evening, Sawant, while speaking to reporters had claimed that Gaonkar was involved in attempts to push through ‘land deals’ and do ‘setting’ in the name of the IIT.
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Gaonkar’s withdrawal of support to the BJP led government will have no impact on the Pramod Sawant led government which enjoys the support of 27 MLAs, a majority of whom were not elected on BJP tickets back in 2017, but have since switched allegiances. Of the three MLAs who helped the BJP form the government back in 2017, only one — minister of art and culture Govind Gaude continues to support the government.
Gaonkar had earlier said that since there was opposition to setting up of the IIT campus at Melaulim village in Sattari taluka, it would be just that the sites identified within the constituency he represents in Sanguem be reconsidered.
A permanent campus for the Goa IIT was first proposed to be set up in Canacona in South Goa where it faced opposition and therefore three possible villages were considered at Sanguem for the project. However, after present chief minister Pramod Sawant took charge, the government decided to set up the campus in Melaulim on a stretch of land, which is forested and is not being surrendered by villagers who claim to live off the produce from the land.