Welcome to Goa, said chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar to Arvind Kejriwal, who has announced that his Aam Aadmi Party or AAP will contest next year's assembly elections in the tiny tourist state.
- BJP's Parsekar says AAP will split Congress votes, will win no seats
- Arvind Kejriwal launched AAP campaign from Panaji on Sunday
- Kejriwal has said AAP will contest all 40 assembly seats in Goa
The BJP chief minister told NDTV today that he is confident AAP will damage the Congress, but will win no seats.
He warned AAP that Goa would not be won the way Delhi was; Arvind Kejriwal's party had won 67 of 70 assembly seats in the national capital, with the BJP making do with the remaining three.
"AAP is welcome to contest, but they can't repeat Delhi in Goa. Goans are not emotional people," said Mr Parsekar, predicting that the party would "reap benefits by splitting Congress votes, but won't win seats."
Large rallies don't necessarily translate into votes, said Mr Parsekar, who took over as Goa Chief Minister when Manohar Parrikar resigned to head to the Centre as Defence Minister in 2014. "I remember our early days in Goa. Vajpayee and Advani would pull crowds of 15,000 people but we would get very few votes. We only earned votes later," he said.
Mr Parsekar said he also "welcomed" well-known journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, as rumours swirled that the latter will be the Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial candidate in Goa.
Mr Sardesai, who belongs to Goa, has denied the rumours, tweeting today:
My friend, The only party I am part of is my kids birthday party! https://t.co/ueuAbAANjORajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) May 23, 2016
But Mr Parsekar told NDTV that the "sense I got is given a chance he (Mr Sardesai) would love to contest from Goa."
The Chief Minister rejected Mr Kejriwal's allegation that tourism in Goa was being promoted through "sex, drugs and gambling," pointing out that the "BJP was and is against casinos. But when we lost mining revenue and so we needed revenue from casinos. I stand by the promise to remove casinos but at the moment I can't assure I won't increase them. We plan to move them to the sea."
Mr Kejriwal launched his party's campaign from Goa capital Panaji on Sunday. AAP has said it will contest all 40 assembly seats in Goa.