Updated: January 13, 2022 8:22:54 pm
Eager to emerge as a key player in Goa’s packed electoral battlefield in its second attempt, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is in no mood to enter into any pre-poll pact with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which recently made overtures for a larger coalition to defeat the ruling BJP.
The TMC, which is also keen on leaving a mark in its maiden political venture in the coastal state, maintains that the AAP does not figure in its calculations either and that it is “acting more as the BJP’s B-team”. However, mindful of the consequences of a multi-cornered contest in the state that has around 11.11 lakh voters, both the parties, which had friendly ties until their interests clashed in Goa, are keeping their options open anticipating a fragmented verdict.
While TMC Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra had revived speculation regarding an Opposition alliance, saying defeating the BJP was the primary objective, AAP Goa in-charge Atishi, who had last month ruled out an alliance with the TMC, on Monday said the party’s position remains unchanged.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Atishi said, “There is no question of the AAP joining any pre-poll alliance. The AAP is trying to introduce a new brand of development-centric politics in Goa. So far, the election discourse in Goa was about pre-poll or post-poll alliances, so much so that even the visits of leaders of national parties were essentially defined by joinings. AAP is trying to change that political culture. AAP has a vision and agenda for the state and its people are yearning for change.”
The performance of indigenous parties such as the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which had helped the BJP form the government in 2017, will also have a bearing on a possible post-poll alliance. The MGP has tied up with the TMC while the GFP is in an alliance with the Congress.
A senior AAP leader, actively working in Goa, which has 40 Assembly seats, said the possibility of a post-poll alliance cannot be ruled out due to the nature of the contest, which may throw up a fragmented verdict. But the TMC does not figure anywhere in this calculation, the leader asserted.
“The constituencies in Goa have an average of 25,000 voters. Apart from the BJP, Congress and the AAP, some seats will have a fourth player as well in the form of strong Independent faces and regional parties like the MGP, GFP and the new entrant Revolutionary Goans. There may well be a situation where a candidate will emerge as the winner in a seat with 5,000-6,000 votes. So anything can happen. But TMC does not figure anywhere in this multi-cornered contest,” the leader said, on the condition of anonymity.
TMC sources hit back, alleging that AAP is “colluding” with the BJP on the ground.
“There are constant attempts to play down the TMC’s chances. It is a reality that people are not sure if the TMC is well-placed to defeat the BJP in Goa but it is a fact that they see Mamata Banerjee as a credible adversary to the BJP. But they (people) are also wary of a split in votes. That’s why we floated the idea of an alliance. And you must keep in mind that the TMC did not reach out to AAP through that tweet made by Mahua Moitra. She added AAP’s name only as an afterthought while responding to a question in a press conference,” said a TMC leader, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
On January 7, Moitra had tweeted, “Rest assured, we the AITC will do everything possible to defeat BJP in Goa @Goaforwardparty, @INCGoa @AITC4Goa and #MGP. @Mamataofficial has done it in past & will not shy away from walking extra mile in Goa too.” Later, speaking to reporters on a possible tie-up with the AAP, she had said: “AAP is also part of the anti-BJP space. We may not have added AAP to the tweet but have included them in this. There is no problem between us.”
The TMC leader added that the party’s door-to-door campaign, especially with its Griha Lakshmi cards, have generated a buzz among people. The TMC had announced that all senior women would receive Rs 5,000 a month if the party is voted to power.
“People feel the AAP is not even focusing on Goa as it is excited with the prospect of winning Punjab,” the leader said. Incidentally, the AAP has also promised to transfer Rs 1,000 per month to every woman aged 18 and above if it wins. While the TMC has not announced any candidates so far, the AAP has released the names of 20 candidates so far, including state convener Rahul Mhambre, a chartered accountant by profession. The names include several former BJP and Congress legislators and leaders.
An AAP leader also said there are some seats where the results will be influenced by the presence of strong local faces.
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