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Former AAP Goa convenor joins Congress; former bureaucrat says Goa looking at Cong as alternative

Gomes was inducted into the party at a ceremony held at the Congress House in presence of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) President Girish Chodankar and Leader of Opposition in the Goa legislative assembly and former chief minister Digambar Kamat.

By: Express News Service | Panaji |
August 9, 2021 6:17:45 am
Elvis Gomes, former convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa on Sunday joined the Congress in a ceremony held in Panaji. (Express photo)

Elvis Gomes, former convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Goa on Sunday joined the Congress in a ceremony held in Panaji. The bureaucrat-turned-politician was the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate for the 2017 legislative assembly polls in which it, however, drew a blank.

Gomes said that he had a meeting with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Delhi two days back after which he decided to enter the party. “After leaving the AAP I had not joined any party for eight-nine months. I have not jumped from one party to another. I have given it a lot of thought, deliberation and I have taken the decision after meeting a lot of people in the Congress hierarchy in both Delhi and Goa. I have come on my own terms,” said Gomes.

Gomes was inducted into the party at a ceremony held at the Congress House in presence of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) President Girish Chodankar and Leader of Opposition in the Goa legislative assembly and former chief minister Digambar Kamat.

Last year, Gomes had resigned from the post of the AAP’s state convenor and given up membership of thr party after, he felt, that the party was being controlled from Delhi and it had ‘compromised its core principles’.

Entering the Congress on Sunday, he said that he always wanted to put Goa above all else. “I looked at an ideology (of the Congress) that is intact for the last 70 years in this country. People may have come, they may have defected, betrayed and that was the main reason that I was a vocal critic of the Congress. But my criticism was based on facts. And I will continue to criticise if this happens again. There has to be an integrity test. People with no integrity should find no place in the Congress,” Gomes told The Indian Express.

He is expected to contest the Cuncolim seat from South Goa.

Gomes’s entry into the Congress in Goa, however, comes at a time that senior leaders of the party in the state seem to be at odds. On Saturday South Goa MP and former chief minister Francisco Sardinha had said that he blamed Chodankar for giving a hero’s welcome to new entrants in the party and said that no one should be inducted with the hope of getting a ticket to contest from the party. He also called for a change in the leadership in the state saying it needed an experienced leader.

Goa Forward Party President Vijai Sardesai had earlier said that the Congress party had in-principle agreed to an alliance with his party Congress leaders maintained that a decision on an alliance was not taken yet. Senior Congress leaders from Goa met Rahul Gandhi in Delhi in July to set the ball rolling ahead of legislative assembly elections in the state. Chodankar, leader of opposition in Goa assembly Digambar Kamat, and veteran Congress leaders including MLA Luizinho Faleiro and Sardinha were among those who met Gandhi in Delhi.

Other congress leaders in the state, however, said that while it was for the party high command to take a decision on an alliance but it was important for the party to get its house in order in the state first. Calls for a change in the party leadership were also made by different Congress leaders. Chodankar had offered to resign after the party’s poor performance in municipal elections held in April.

In the 40-members Goa assembly, the Congress was reduced to five MLAs after ten of its legislators defected to the BJP in 2019.

Entering the Congress amid the differences, Gomes, however, said, “Deep down there is no turmoil. The turmoil is within the leadership at a certain level. The common Congress worker on the ground is fine. He is just waiting for things to stabilise. The writing is on the wall. What is required is to gain the confidence of the people of Goa who are looking at the Congress as an alternative. If things don’t stabilise soon it will be to the detriment of the Congress party,” said Gomes.

Speaking of AAP as an opponent, Gomes said, “Every opponent has to be taken seriously.” He said that the AAP was expected to eat into the Congress’s votes and in turn, help the BJP. “We will just have to educate our voters and show them that the Congress party has been there in Goa for a long time and it has done a lot of work in Goa too.”

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