Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal welcomes trade union leader Puti Gaonkar to the party.

Mining activist and trade union leader Puti Gaonkar joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa today and is set to contest the 2022 state assembly elections against Chief Minister Pramod Sawant from the Sanquelim constituency.

Mr Gaonkar, who is the Goa Mining People’s Front chief, joined the party in the presence of its national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

In a statement issued by the party, Mr Kejriwal said, “Joining of a leader like Puti Gaonkar will give a lot of strength to the AAP in Goa. Gaonkar has discussed many issues with me. He told me about the injustice being done to mining dependent families. I want to assure that if AAP comes to power, then mining will start in Goa within six months under the guidance of Gaokar.”

Mr Kejriwal, who is in Goa on a two-day visit as political parties prepare for the upcoming polls, said he will meet the mining dependent families and the families who are fighting for their land rights “since many decades”. 

“All the parties should withdraw the candidates in Sanquelim assembly constituency and support Puti Gaonkar in that seat to contest against chief minister,” he said, adding that Aam Aadmi Party is the most “honest party” in the country.

“If Goa will give one chance to the AAP, Goans will forget BJP and Congress forever”, Arvind Kejriwal said. 

Mr Gaonkar said he joined the AAP after being inspired by their work in Delhi and that his aim in Goa is to resume mining and resolve land ownership issues.

“AAP is the party that fulfills the promises it makes. A few days ago, I had a discussion with AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal on mining, land ownership and other issues. All the promises made by Kejriwal in Delhi have been fulfilled. So be it good infrastructure or the promise of free electricity, they have done it all. They have done good work in health and education sector,” he added.

Mr Gaonkar said mining has stopped in Goa since 2012 under the orders of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar. 

“If BJP government has not started mining in the last 10 years, do you think that they will start now? They have vested interests,” he said.

He informed that the AAP’s legal team has started trying to find ways to restart mining and necessary documents have been provided to them.

Puti Gaonkar had recently announced the Goa State Navnirman Aghadi Forum aimed at taking on the BJP in the upcoming state elections.

Ahead of the Goa Assembly elections early next year, political leaders such as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also visited the state recently to expand their party’s footprint.

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