Panaji : Rakhi Prabhudesai Naik of Shiv Sena and activist-cum-politician Aishwarya Salgaonkar have focussed their campaign for Lok Sabha elections in Goa on burning issues like the stalled mining activity and lack of employment in the coastal state.
Prabhudesai Naik and Salgaonkar, who is contesting as Independent, are in the fray from South Goa and North Goa constituencies, respectively.
Prabhudesai Naik, 34, has been the face of the Uddhav Thackeray-led party in Goa since the last two years, taking up various issues against the BJP-led government in the state.
Her opponents are BJP MP Narendra Sawaikar, Francis Sardinha of Congress and Elvis Gomes of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Salgaonkar had left the Congress after a bitter fallout with Goa Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee president Pratima Coutinho. She had sat on fast seeking intervention of Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
She is squaring off against Congress’ Girish Chodankar, sitting BJP MP Shripad Naik and AAP leader Pradeep Padgaonkar.
Prabhudesai Naik clarifies that she was not seeking votes on the basis of her gender.
“In my personal view, women should contest and get elected in the general category rather than waiting for reservation. I believe that we can compete with men and win,” she said.
Prabhudesai Naik was in the NCP before she joined the Sena.
When asked about her electoral prospects, she said, “Sena has devoted its entire resources to South Goa Parliamentary seat. That iswhy we are not even contesting in North Goa”.
Prabhudesai Naik said the voters are looking at the Sena with much hopes because the party has proved its mettle in neighbouring Maharashtra.
“Our focus is the ‘bhumiputras’ (the sons of soil) in Maharashtra and ‘Goenkars’ (Goans) in Goa. Our priority will always be Goans,” she said.
Prabhudesai Naik further said that she was in favour of resumption of mining activity, which came to halt in March last year due to a supreme court order.
The Sena leader also promises generation of employment in the coastal state which mainly draws its revenue mainly from tourism industry and iron ore extraction.
Meanwhile, Salgaonkar is promising jobs for locals at upcoming international airport at Mopa in North Goa.
She said that Goa should have a say in the projects taken up as a part of Nationalisation of Rivers.
“The Congress does not know to recognise the leadership qualities. They don’t know to respect women in the party. That is why I thought of quitting the party and contesting as an independent,” says the 41-year-old.