Panaji: Citing the Bharatiya Janata Party`s (BJP) inability to take on the Congress-led ruling coalition on the issue of illegal mining in Goa, anti-mining activists say both parties are part of a nexus of silence.
Veteran civil society activists who last week deposed before the Justice M.B. Shah Commission - a Supreme Court appointed authority to probe illegal mining in India - say the state BJP leadership`s silence is proof of its complicity with the Digambar Kamat government, which has been accused of overseeing a Rs.10,000 crore mining scam.
"Of course, when it comes to mining, every political party is together. This was the best chance for the BJP to make a political point against Congress and Kamat, who is responsible for illegal mining for nearly a decade now. The opposition is quiet because they are in cahoots with the government on the issue of illegal mining," Floriano Lobo, a prominent civil society activist and anti-mining campaigner, told IANS Thursday.
Lobo alleged the powerful mining lobby, which has often defined government policy in the past, sponsored both the political parties and hence had commanded the conspiracy of silence and inaction when it came to fixing responsibility for the scam.
According to Ramesh Gauns, a veteran activist who has been protesting illegal mining for nearly two decades now, the reason for the state BJP`s silence against Kamat and the illegal mining scam, was the latter`s proximity to former Karnataka chief minister and senior BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa, who has been indicted by a Lokayukta report on illegal mining.
"One cannot deny complicity between the BJP and Kamat. He (Kamat) has been a mines minister. Kamat is a pet of the RSS cadre and he was very close to Yeddyurappa," Gauns said.
Of the 12 years for which Kamat was minister of mines, presiding over a mining scam worth nearly Rs.10,000 crore (according to a ruling Congress legislator), Kamat held the mines portfolio for three years as a BJP minister in a Manohar Parrikar-led coalition government, in the early 2000s. He later quit the BJP and joined the Congress in 2005.
When asked to react on the party`s silence on the illegal mining scam in Goa, BJP`s Lok Sabha MP from North Goa Shripad Naik merely said: "Thank you for your advice."
Leader of opposition Parrikar was more forthcoming. "I am away from Goa. I will be raising the issue thoroughly when I am back Monday. I have always maintained that while Yeddyurappa is waist deep in illegal mining, Kamat is up to his neck in the mining scam."