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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

TMC hits out after Chidambaram says ‘only be BJP versus Congress’ in Goa

TMC MP Mahua Moitra said, "The time is right for the Congress to get off its high horse and realise that it alone has not been able to fight this battle.

By: Express News Service | Panaji |
Updated: January 15, 2022 9:04:20 am
Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram (File Photo)

Congress’s senior election observer P Chidambaram Friday said the upcoming Goa Assembly elections were a contest between his party and the BJP, a statement which drew the ire of the Trinamool Congress.

In an interview to Prudent media news channel, Chidambaram said, “In Goa, it can only be BJP versus Congress. Whether that can be Congress plus, is open for discussion. But it cannot be BJP versus any front which does not have the Congress playing the lead role. You can add a plus to the Congress. It cannot be plus Congress, it has to be Congress plus. I hope you see the distinction.”

Chidambaram, who was in New Delhi on Friday, said the TMC had hinted at forming an anti-BJP alliance in the state, but it was unclear who would lead it.

“TMC may have hinted at the desire to form an alliance. While the desire is there, it is not clear what they have in mind. Neither have they given any clarity on whether they will be the lead party in forming an alliance, nor have they specified the number of seats they plan to contest from. It is also not clear as to why they are poaching Congress members,” he said during the interview.

Soon after the interview, TMC MP Mahua Moitra tweeted saying the Congress was given a definitive offer by her party two weeks ago. “In response: 1. AITC (TMC) already made formal & definitive offer to INC on Goa to defeat BJP. 2. INC leadership asked for time to revert. This was almost 2 weeks ago. 3. If Mr Chidambaram not aware of details he should talk to his leadership rather than making these statements,” she said.

Moitra added, “The time is right for the Congress to get off its high horse and realise that it alone has not been able to fight this battle. In Goa, had the fight been a binary battle between the Congress and BJP, as in 2017, the Congress could neither form government with more numbers, neither could they hold on to their flock.”

Earlier in the day, she had said, “It’s high time the Congress woke up to its depleted strength and realised they are not emperors of India, and nobody else has to be given a certificate by them to come into a state. We appeal to the people of Goa that we are here to give you another platform. We are open to an anti-BJP alliance. We have said that. We are willing to talk. But if people think they are emperors and they are going to be doling out largesse, then fine. We are there as a platform and Mamata Banerjee is there as an anti-BJP leader.”

The TMC that arrived in Goa all guns blazing towards the end of September 2021, had first said it would contest all 40 legislative Assembly seats on its own. However, the party subsequently entered a pre-poll alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Goa’s oldest regional force.

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 the past and will not shy away from walking extra mile in Goa too.” She had tagged Opposition parties including the Congress, the Goa Forward Party and the TMC’s ally MGP in the tweet.

A day later, she said, “The 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.”

In his interview, Chidambaram said the Congress was deeply rooted in Goa and it was “logical” for the Congress to contest the upcoming elections. He, however, said the AAP that drew a blank in 2017 and the TMC that arrived in Goa only a few months ago, had launched “aggressive” and “lavish” campaigns in the coastal state.

Chidambaram said, “The fight is really between the Congress and the BJP. If anyone wants to support the anti-BJP front, they should certainly reach out the Congress party and say, all right, we want to expand our footprint and we want to work with you. But the kind of aggressive, lavish campaign that was launched and poaching of Congress workers has left a bitter taste… I still think if they realise the Congress is the challenger to the BJP, things could fall in place even now although we are racing against time.”

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