Updated: January 18, 2022 6:46:01 am
Barely a month left for voting in Goa, the Trinamool Congress has indicated that its supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had reached out to the top Congress leadership, possibly party chief Sonia Gandhi, two weeks ago and “made a definite offer” for an electoral understanding to take on the ruling BJP.
The reach-out is interesting since Banerjee, during a visit to Goa a month ago, had said that the TMC had already formed an alliance with parties in Goa to fight the BJP and if the Congress so wished, it could join them.
Speaking to The Indian Express Saturday TMC Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra said the “principals” of both the parties have spoken. The polls to the 40-member Goa assembly are scheduled for February 14.
Asked whether Banerjee has spoken to Gandhi, Moitra said, “By principal you, obviously, mean the absolute top leadership of the party. It does not mean the poll in-charge, does not mean the state in-charge, does not mean general secretary or a vice president. It means the person who is the main decision-maker of the party.” Asked about Moitra’s remarks, Congress leader P Chidambaram, the party’s senior observer for Goa, said: “I have no desire to enter into a verbal exchange with Ms Mahua Moitra, Honourable MP”.
Best of Express Premium
Sources in the Congress said the party is not exactly rushing in. “The state unit is dead against…The TMC has been poaching our leaders and now that they have realised they are not in a position to win any seats, they are talking about an alliance. If we enter into seat-sharing with the TMC, what signal will it send our leaders and cadre? It will be suicidal,” a top Congress leader said.
The relationship between the Congress and the TMC came under strain after Banerjee’s big victory in West Bengal last May. While she did meet Gandhi last July and joined a virtual meeting of Opposition called by her in August, ties took a hit after the TMC decided to enter Goa iinsisting that the Congress should reconcile to its diminished influence at the national level.
Moitra said TMC made the offer “in the interest of defeating the BJP”, adding that the Congress has, at the highest level, sought more time to respond to the proposal.
“Two weeks ago, the principals have both spoken and we have put it out that two weeks ago we made a definite offer saying in the interest of defeating the BJP it is good if we go into an understanding in Goa. They have asked for more time at the principal level and we are waiting for them to revert,” Moitra said.
“Even if we win three seats in four months and get more than 10 per cent of the vote, by any stretch of the imagination that is a fabulous result. Whereas the Congress has lost 90 per cent of polls it has contested in the last 10 years. The Congress is fighting polls in five states today. Tell me where it has a 100 per cent chance of forming a government? So who has got more to lose? We are not desperate. We are rational and logical, something that the Congress should be. We have said all the time that the Congress cannot alone defeat the BJP because if they could do it they could have done it,” she said.
Asked if the TMC’s alliance proposal to the Congress is limited to Goa, Moitra said, “Right now, Goa is the only state that is in common between us and the Congress. We are not fighting in Punjab, Manipur, up, so it obviously is about Goa now. But based on Goa, of course coming towards 2024, this will define what will happen next.”
Incidentally, on January 10, Congress general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal had rejected reports as “baseless and untrue” that talks on a possible alliance with the TMC in Goa had figured in a meeting involving Congress MP Rahul Gandhi after his return from abroad.
🗞 Subscribe Now: Get Express Premium to access our in-depth reporting, explainers and opinions 🗞️
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.