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Goa Congress candidates pledge to remain loyal to party after polls

The Congress is desperately fighting a perception among voters in Goa that voting for Congress is the same as voting for the BJP. These voters have lost faith, thanks to large scale defections of party MLAs after the last elections.

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | Panaji |
Updated: January 23, 2022 7:56:28 am
On Saturday, 36 election candidates of the Congress took a pledge of loyalty to their party in a temple, a church and a mosque. (Twitter/@INCGoa)

Months ahead of the February 14 Assembly elections, the Congress had assured voters in Goa that the defections like those in 2019, would not be repeated. On Saturday, the party repeated the same pledge again, this time with God as witness.

Following the exit of ten Congress MLAs who joined the BJP in 2019 in a contested ‘merger’ of the two legislative parties, the Congress has been fighting the perception perpetrated by its political opponents that voting for Congress is the same as voting for the BJP.

On Saturday, 36 election candidates of the Congress took a pledge of loyalty to their party in a temple, a church and a mosque. Standing in the holy premises with their hands folded, the election candidates repeated after priests in the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji and the Bambolim Cross in Konkani that after winning the election they would stay with the Congress party for the next five years.

“At the feet of goddess Mahalaxmi, all 36 of us…pledge that we will remain loyal to the Congress party that has given us tickets…we pledge that the elected candidates will remain with the party in all circumstances…” the candidates swore in the temple. A similar oath was administered to them by a priest at the Bambolim Cross. Later, the 34 male candidates among them offered a ‘chaadar’ at a mosque in Betim.

Former Chief Minister and Congress Legislature Party leader Digambar Kamat said on Saturday: “Goans are known for communal harmony In front of Mahalaxmi we have taken a pledge that for five years we will stay together. Thirty six people have come. They have taken the oath before Mahalaxmi and the Bambolim Cross, which is considered a very powerful place of worship as far as the Catholic community is concerned. We are very serious about this and will not allow any party to poach our MLAs. We are God fearing people. We have full faith in the Almighty. Hence, today we have taken a pledge that we will not defect.”


In Goa, record 60% MLAs switched parties in last 5 years; unparalleled: ADR report

Panaji: As many as 24 legislators in Goa, which is 60 per cent of the total strength of the 40-member state Assembly, have switched parties in the last five years, according to a report by poll rights group Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). The report said this was “unparalleled” in the history of Indian democracy. “It has never happened anywhere else in India. A clear reflection of utter disrespect to mandate of voters. A callous approach to ethics overborne by uncontrolled greed...,” it said. The ADR list does not include Vishwajit Rane, Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, who resigned as Congress MLAs in 2017, and joined the ruling BJP. PTI

The party’s senior election observer P Chidambaram, AICC Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee President Girish Chodankar also accompanied the party candidates to the places of worship on Saturday afternoon.

Seeking redemption after the embarrassing defections, the party leadership had declared months before announcing its election candidates that its doors were shut for defectors who had deserted the party earlier.

Kamat said that Congress alone was not responsible for defections in the past. The BJP was equally responsible for poaching the party’s MLAs, he said. “BJP gave them offers and hence they switched parties. We want to assure the people of Goa that it will not happen again,” said Kamat, who will contest the election from Margao.

Micheal Lobo , a former BJP minister who quit the BJP to join Congress earlier in January, said: “Last election Congress MLAs were split and the pledge is important for that reason. There are people who say they are Congress voters but have questions in their mind whether the candidates will stay with the Congress after winning? That is why we decided to take this pledge. It is important.”

On Saturday, the party also held a meeting with all its election candidates at a hotel in Panaji which was also attended by former chief minister and senior leader Pratap Singh Rane, the party’s candidate from his bastion of Poriem. When asked if he had decided whether or not he will contest the February 14 polls, the octogenarian said, “We’ll see.”

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