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Kejriwal hits out at TMC: Not even in race for Goa polls

🔴 Kejriwal was speaking at a press conference to announce his “sixth guarantee” – a corruption-free government – ahead of the assembly polls in Goa expected in February.

By: Express News Service | Panaji |
Updated: December 23, 2021 5:59:12 am
Arvind Kejriwal held his first political rally in Panaji on Tuesday. (Photo: Twitter/@AamAadmiParty)

IN WHAT appears to be a sign of conflicting interests in the larger Opposition space, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP national convenor Arvind Kejriwal hit out at the Trinamool Congress, saying the party is “not even in the race” for the upcoming Assembly elections in Goa.

When asked why he had spared the TMC in his speech in Panaji on Tuesday even as he attacked the BJP, Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Kejriwal said, “You (the media) are giving the TMC so much importance. According to me, the TMC does not have even 1 per cent vote share. They came to Goa three months ago. Democracy does not function like this. In a democracy, you have to put in hard work, you have to work among the people. In your view the TMC may be important, but in my view, I don’t think the TMC is even in the race.”

He said he did not feel the need to mention the TMC in his address. “Why should I? They are not even in the race. There are 1,350 (political) parties in the country, should I mention everyone?” he said at a press conference after the AAP launched its poll campaign with the Panaji rally on Tuesday.

The Goa TMC responded to Kejriwal’s remarks with a tweet that said, “We firmly believe in working for people and standing beside them through thick & thin. Those indulging in election forecasting and vote share predictions are simply reflecting their political immaturity and desperation. Let the people of Goa decide who should be taken seriously!”

Kejriwal was speaking at a press conference to announce his “sixth guarantee” – a corruption-free government and doorstep delivery of government services – ahead of the assembly polls in Goa expected in February. He had earlier announced five poll promises, which the AAP calls “guarantees” to the people of Goa – 300 units of power free for each household every month, unemployment allowance for mining and tourism dependents, free tirth yatra, a corporation for autorickshaw and taxi operators and Rs 1,000 to every woman above the age of 18.

“In the last 60 years the Congress has ruled for 27 years and the BJP and the MGP ruled for 15 years. Besides doing corruption, they haven’t done anything for the state. If we are voted to power, AAP will give the first corruption-free government in the state and this is Kejriwal’s sixth guarantee to Goans”. He said, “Not a single rupee will be allowed to be siphoned off. There will be zero tolerance towards corruption in Goa.”

Appealing to the people of Goa to vote for AAP, he said, “At least give us a chance.”

Kejriwal’s swipe at the TMC comes in the midst of an aggressive push by the Mamata Banerjee-led party to make inroads into Goa.

The TMC declared in September that it would contest all 40 Assembly seats. Banerjee has made two visits to the state since then and entered into a pre-poll alliance with the MGP, an estranged BJP ally. It has also poached three MLAs – two from the Congress and one from the NCP – besides inducting the former working president of the Goa Forward Party and block-level leaders from parties including the BJP.

The AAP which made its debut in Goa in the 2017 elections in which it drew a blank, has been attempting to make its presence felt this time around. In December 2020, the party won a zilla panchayat seat. Ahead of the upcoming polls, it got prominent faces on board, including Alina Saldanha, the first BJP MLA to resign and switch to the AAP, and Goa Mining People’s Front leader Puti Gaonkar, among others.

Kejriwal and Mamata have often come together on the same platform and were until recently seen as sharing a personal rapport. During her visit to Delhi in July, Banerjee had met Kejriwal, but when she visited again in November, she refrained from meeting the AAP chief.

But of late, with the two parties pitted against each other in Goa, there have been signs of stress.

On December 5, in an interview to a television channel in Goa, Kejriwal had said, “TMC has no chance. Coming (to the state) just three months before the election… It is like insulting the people. You should have worked for at least two to five years with the people,” Kejriwal said.

On October 30, while Banerjee was in Goa, she signalled that the TMC has no plans of joining forces with the AAP in Goa. Banerjee had then said: “I love him (Kejriwal). I have no problem with that. In Delhi, they won because of Anna Hazare, you have to appreciate that…It is not that every time only one political party will emerge. Have I stopped them from going to Punjab? Why would they stop us from coming to Goa?”

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