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TMC sends Oppn unity feelers ‘to prevent backdoor BJP govt’ in Goa, Congress keeps cards close

Statement by TMC Goa in-charge, Mahua Moitra, and another by Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai gives rise to speculation of ‘grand Oppn alliance’ for Goa polls.

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New Delhi: The Congress has said that an official word is awaited on the party’s possible alliance with the Trinamool Congress for the upcoming assembly elections in Goa.

Speaking in Panjim, the Congress’ Goa observer P. Chidambaram said his party is “capable of defeating the BJP on its own”.

On Friday, a statement by the Trinamool Congress Goa in-charge, Mahua Moitra, and another by Vijai Sardesai, chief of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), which is in alliance with the Congress in the state, had given rise to speculation of a “grand Opposition alliance” ahead of the Goa polls in February.

Moitra had tweeted that her party will do “everything possible to defeat BJP in Goa”, and tagged the Congress and the GFP handles, apart from that of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), with which the TMC is allying in the state.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Goa, Sardesai said the BJP was trying to deny an Opposition victory “under the garb of Covid restrictions” and that “Team Goa of Congress, TMC, MGP and GFP should come together”.

“Under the garb of Covid restrictions, the BJP will try everything to deny an opposition victory like they did in the zilla parishad elections. Team Goa of Congress, TMC and MGP must come together and make sure history is not repeated,” Sardesai said.

While the TMC and the MGP have declared an alliance for the upcoming polls, the Bengal-based party led by Mamata Banerjee has made much of its organisational foray into Goa by inducting disgruntled Congress leaders. 

The TMC’s first big-ticket induction in Goa was that of veteran Congress leader and former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro, who has since been made the party’s national vice-president and a member or Parliament (MP) in Rajya Sabha.

At a press conference Saturday, Moitra explained the rationale behind her tweet: “To ensure that BJP does not win or form a government through the backdoor”. 

It was the support of the MGP and the GFP that helped the BJP form the government in the state in 2017 despite the Congress emerging as the biggest player.

Also Read: Want Oppn unity but won’t be anybody’s rubber stamp, TMC says amid tussle with Congress

Talks of a possible Congress-TMC alliance

The alliance between the Congress and the GFP is believed to have been sealed after Sardesai flew down to Delhi to meet Rahul Gandhi in December. However, there seemed to be some back-and-forth on the idea, but the alliance was subsequently formalised.

Earlier, the TMC and Sardesai were also in talks and the latter had even visited Mamata Banerjee during her first trip to Goa.

Sardesai later said the TMC wanted him to merge his party with theirs and he was not agreeable to the deal.

In a press conference Saturday, Moitra sought to emphasise the sentiment of her tweet, saying the TMC will do “whatever necessary” to ensure that the BJP does not form the next government in the coastal state. Even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is part of the anti-BJP space, she added.

“The TMC wants to defeat the BJP and will do whatever necessary. We want to ensure that BJP does not win or form a government through the backdoor,” Moitra said, according to a PTI report, when asked about a possible pre-poll alliance with the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Congress.

“The AAP is also part of the anti-BJP space. I may not have added them in the tweet. We are also including them,” she said, adding that “nothing is impossible in politics.” 

She said no discussion had been held yet on pre-poll alliances, adding that “this is a general view that we (TMC) are putting forward [to] the people of Goa”.

Congress capable of defeating BJP on its own’

The Congress has, however, said that an “official word” is awaited on any such alliance, if at all.

“I read of the TMC’s statement in the newspapers this morning, but I don’t have any official word. We have to wait for an official word,” said Congress MP Chidambaram in a press conference in Panaji Saturday, alongside Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar.

“The Congress is capable of defeating the BJP in Goa on its own. If anybody wants to offer support, they are free to do so,” he added.

The Congress has so far announced candidates for 8 constituencies in Goa, which has 40 assembly seats. One of the candidates, sitting MLA from Curtorim Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, has since moved to the TMC. 

A second list of candidates is expected to be announced by the party Saturday.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: No TMC or AAP, Sena ‘didn’t sign register’: What ‘Oppn unity’ looked like at Congress-led meet


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