Panaji: Goa`s civil society groups, who
have been raising issues of public concern from the sidelines,
have now decided to test political waters and field their own
candidates in the March 3 Assembly polls.
They have announced their first list of four
candidates. The list figures Fr Bismarck Dias, who would be
making history by becoming the first Christian priest to
contest polls in Goa which has a sizeable Catholic population.
"We will be contesting in all the 40 constituencies
fielding credible candidates," Yatish Naik, Convenor, Pilerne
Citizens Forum (PCF), one of the groups said.
He said all this while genuine social workers used to
distance themselves from "dirty game" of politics but now they
want to make a difference by becoming part of the polity.
"We have decided to get into politics to clean it,"
Naik said, adding having representatives in the Assembly would
help in getting various issues solved in a democratic method
Candidates will be fielded on a well defined and pro-
people manifesto, he maintained.
The coastal state, which has a vibrant NGO movement,
has in the recent past witnessed several street protests on
issues ranging from Regional Plan 2021 (labelled as a
`draconian` piece of land use plan) to iron ore mining.
PCF Chairman Prakash Bandekar said the election
provides a chance to the people to save Goa, a politically
volatile state, from the clutches of corruption.
Naik said there are nearly 160 groups, active from
village to state level, who will be backing these candidates.
While NGOs wield considerable influence in the tourist
state`s rural belt, it remains to be seen whether this support
translates into votes for their candidates.