Modi promises Goa more autonomy, lift of mining ban

In a new twist to his campaign, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party's candidate for prime minister, said at a rally near Panaji today that if voted to power in the upcoming general election, his party would accord special status to Goa, and also lift the ban on mining in the state.

Modi said he was strongly in favour of localising political power. "We believe in decentralisation of power. We believe in giving power to the people," he told a party rally reportedly attended by over 100,000 people, where he shared the dais with BJP president Rajnath Singh.

In an obvious reference to the current Supreme Court-enforced ban on mining activity in the state, Modi said, "Mining is an important trade. It should not just be for the sake of mining. It should be for the economy of the state.''

Showing confidence that his party would be voted into power at the centre, he added, "Now the ban would only be for a few months."

Modi said the mining industry was important for strengthening Goa's economy. ''If the raw material is locked and you sleep over the issue in Delhi, then no one can save Goa's economy from being doomed,'' he said, but was quick to add, "We will protect the environment and transparent process would be adopted in the mining trade, which is currently on hold because of the lethargy of the central government.''