Corruption and unemployment are the biggest issues in Goa and the people of the state want a change in leadership, Aam Aadmi Party's Chief Ministerial candidate for Goa Amit Palekar told NDTV. "Two out of three people of the state are unemployed, and it's because of rampant corruption in the government," he added. Pitching his party as "grounded", he said they have reached out to the people through door-to-door campaigning and the voters have connected to the party. "Our confidence doesn't come from thin air," he said while claiming that AAP will form the next government in the coastal state.
Dismissing apprehensions that it's a newcomer to the state, he said that the party has dug its heels since the last elections and expanded its network of cadres and volunteers to all parts of the state. "You are going to see a very different election this time in the state," he said, adding that his party has gone to the people and taken note of their hopes and aspirations for the state.
Mr Palekar claims that it's the AAP, and not the opposition party Congress, that has highlighted corruption and scams in the state and served as the true opposition to the government without having even one MLA in the state assembly.
"The way things have moved in last few months, and a few years, is that people have got connected to us. And people are looking at us as the only alternative for weeding out corruption as far as this present government is concerned," he said.
Mr Palekar said the people's response to AAP in the state has been "amazing" and it's all set to form the new government.
The 46-year-old lawyer and social worker Amit Palekar is from the OBC Bhandari community, which accounts for about 35 per cent of Goa's population. He was recently in the news for his hunger strike to protest illegal construction at an Old Goa heritage site.
Mr Palekar is not bothered by various political alliances taking shape in the state. "The people know that AAP is the only alternative to this present government," he said. Betting on the "conviction of the people", he said alliances by parties like the TMC and Shiv Sena are of little consequence.
Calling political defections "selfish movements", he says the state sees defections post-elections but this time there's "horse-trading" and defections prior to it as it's mostly about getting the ticket to contest. "It's very unfortunate for the people of Goa," he said.
Mr Palekar accused the BJP of not caring about the backgrounds of their candidates as long as they can win. "For BJP, winnability is the only criteria and they do not care about the character, the criminal records or the nature of the candidate they are putting forward," he said.
Backing his party chief Arvind Kejriwal's statement that they are open to post-poll alliances with all parties except the BJP if there's a fractured mandate, he said that, "will rather say in opposition than align with BJP".
The AAP has announced that it will contest all 40 seats in the BJP-ruled state which goes to the polls on February 14.
The state will see a multi-polar contest with the ruling BJP, opposition Congress, Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Shiv Sena-NCP alliance fighting it out for power in the coastal state.
Goa's politics has been notorious for defections. More than half of the MLAs in the state have switched parties since the last assembly elections.
The counting of votes will be held on March 10.