PM skips illegal mining, dynasty politics in snag-ridden rally

Sanquelim (Goa): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Wednesday skirted away from contentious issues like illegal mining and dynasty politics at the Congress’s last major election rally in Goa, which was marked by an embarrassing glitch in the sound system.

He, however, said that if Goa re-elected the Congress-led alliance government, the central government would provide the necessary funding to beef up the state’s infrastructure for tourism.

“If the people of Goa elect our government again, we will focus more attention on improving the infrastructure in Goa’s towns and cities,” Manmohan Singh said, adding that Goa was a diamond in India’s tourism map.

The prime minister was speaking at the Sanquelim Government College grounds, 40 km from here.

He, however steered clear of two of the most contentious issues which have been a part of election campaign – illegal mining and dynastic rule – which have become the main poll plan for the BJP after the Congress allotted 12 out of 33 tickets to the kin of sitting legislators.

The closest Manmohan Singh came to addressing the issue of the massacre of Goa’s environment due to the rampaging and indiscriminate mining was when he expressed the need to balance development with environmental concerns.

“We want progress, but not at the cost of environment. We have to preserve our environment for the welfare of generations to come,” the prime minister said.

The Congress government of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has been accused by the Opposition of sitting over a Rs.25,000 crore illegal mining scam.

Manmohan Singh’s much trumped-up meeting was, however, marred by a sound system failure, with the public address system failing within a minute after the prime minister rose to speak.

The embarrassing half-hour glitch saw the prime minister patiently sitting it out on the dais, even as Congressmen, including two ex-chief ministers and the incumbent, alliance partner Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel and several other people scurrying around to get the public address system on track, even as thousands in the audience walked away.

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