Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) former regional allies in Goa want to take on the party in next year’s assembly election, but they are having trouble forging alliances with other parties to boost their strength.
The Goa Forward Party (GFP), which wants to ally with the Congress, has now given the latter a deadline of Ganesh Chaturthi (10 September) to take a final call on the alliance. Meanwhile, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), which was in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is planning to contest solo.
“Elections are just six months away. This is the time to start ground work in the constituencies, but the Congress is still getting its own house in order. We have had talks with the Congress and the party has indicated that it is in favour of an alliance, but nothing is moving forward,” GFP president Vijai Sardesai, also an MLA in the Goa assembly, told ThePrint.
“Now, I have said Ganesh Chaturthi is an auspicious day when we can announce our alliance to the public. If nothing works out till then, GFP will start preparations in all 40 constituencies.”
The GFP, which formally quit the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in April this year, has three MLAs in the 40-member assembly and has been very critical of the Pramod Sawant government.
On Saturday, senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram while speaking to reporters in Panaji refused to comment on his party forging an alliance with other opposition parties for the assembly polls.
“My mandate is only on restructuring and reviving the party, reconstituting the block committees and enrolling members,” said Chidambaram, who was last month appointed as the All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s senior election observer in Goa.
“The Congress is just reorganising committees and so on. It doesn’t look like the party is keen on any opposition alliance. We aren’t taking any serious efforts towards the election and mostly just basking in our past glory,” a Goa Congress MLA who did not wish to be named told ThePrint.
MGP keen on going solo
The MGP, which was eying a tie-up with the fledgling AAP in Goa, is now planning to contest independently, while being open to post-poll alliances.
“Working out seat-sharing formulas turns out difficult if we look for an alliance. So, we have for now decided to contest solo and are preparing accordingly,” MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar told ThePrint.
“But, one thing is for sure. We have nothing to do with the BJP anymore,” he added.
The Dhavalikar brothers — Deepak and Sudin — had also met AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during his visit to Goa in July.
BJP’s spurned allies
In 2017, the GFP and MGP had joined forces with the BJP to form the government in the 40-member Goa assembly though the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party. The arrangement continued till 2019 when the then Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar died.
After Parrikar’s death, the MGP, GFP and BJP continued to rule the Goa government together with BJP’s Pramod Sawant as CM, and GFP’s Vijai Sardesai and MGP’s Sudin Dhavalikar as deputy CMs. Ten days later, the BJP spurned the MGP by getting two of its three legislators to merge with it, and dropped Dhavalikar as a deputy CM.
In July 2019, the BJP-led government sacked Sardesai as the deputy CM too after the BJP further bolstered its strength in the assembly by getting 10 Congress MLAs to defect and merge with the BJP.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)