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Goa’s GFP rules out merger with Trinamool, says Congress has till Diwali to finalise alliance

Goa Forward Party president Vijai Sardesai tells ThePrint too many anti-BJP forces are coming to Goa to fight BJP, says we have to think about a strategic alliance, so votes do not get divided.

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Kolkata: Ruling out a merger with the Trinamool Congress, the Goa Forward Party (GFP) has now extended its deadline to the Congress, for a “strategic anti-BJP alliance”, until Diwali, which falls on 4 November. 

Talking to The Print, GFP president Vijai Sardesai said political strategist Prashant Kishor, who manages the Trinamool Congress, met him and insisted on a merger with an incentive to lead the Goa Trinamool Congress. 

Sardesai added that in a party meeting, the members and elected representatives decided to “maintain its identity as GFP and not merge with any party”. 

“We are not in favour of a merger with any party. We may be a political start-up, but we are a successful start-up,” Sardesai told ThePrint over phone from Panaji. “People of Goa will lose faith in us if we merge with any other party. We are ready to ally with any party that is willing to fight the Narkasur BJP.” 

About the Congress, Sardesai said he has given the national party time until Diwali to respond to his offer for an anti-BJP strategic alliance. 

“Congress has not got back to us yet. They have time until Diwali. We had given them time until Chaturthi earlier, but the Congress needed more time to work out details,” he said. “But if they do not respond by Diwali, then they have to forget about dethroning this corrupt BJP government in 2022, and have to wait till 2027.” 

Too many anti-BJP forces gearing up to fight the BJP may be counterproductive as well, he added. 

“Suddenly we are noticing that too many anti-BJP forces are coming to Goa to fight BJP,” he said. “But, this will lead to re-election of the most corrupt BJP government here. We all have to think about a strategic alliance, so that the votes do not get divided.” 

Formed in 2016, the GFP controversially sided with the BJP after winning three seats in the 2017 assembly elections, allowing the national party to form the government, even though the Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member assembly. 

In 2019, when Pramod Sawant took over as CM, following Manohar Parrikar’s death, the three GFP members who were part of the state cabinet, including Sardesai, were ousted.  

In April 2021, Sardesai announced the GFP’s formal withdrawal from the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), shooting off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying there is “no room for reconsideration”.

Also read: Ahead of Goa’s 2022 polls, alliance talks heat up, but Congress remains ‘susegad’

‘Haven’t met Mamata’

Sardesai told ThePrint that he has not yet met any of senior Trinamool leaders, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or her nephew and party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee. 

Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to land in Goa Thursday and has some public programmes scheduled for Friday, TMC sources said. Sardesai, however, has not sought an appointment with the Bengal CM yet.

“Goans are very conscious about their identity. They appreciate Didi’s fight against BJP in Bengal, but that does not mean that they would let go of their own identity,” he said.

“We are up against money and muscle power of BJP, and we fought against them last time. We will do it again. There is no point in meeting Trinamool leaders, because they did not want to talk about alliance, but are insisting on a merger.” 

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Why BJP and Congress are putting in all their might to win Goa, India’s smallest state


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