Updated: January 23, 2022 8:28:30 pm
Former Union minister P Chidambaram on Sunday said that the Trinamool Congress had suggested forming an Opposition alliance in Goa but the matter was “closed” after the TMC poached Congress leaders in the state that goes to polls on February 14.
“There was a suggestion from the TMC that we should form an alliance. But before and after, certain events took place. They first poached Mr. Luizinho Faleiro, a sitting MLA. On December 16, we announced the candidature of Mr. Regionaldo Lourenco. They poached him four days later on December 20. The suggestion to form an alliance was made on December 24. Even after that they poached our leaders from Vasco and Mormugao. All these facts were before the leadership of the Congress party and I had no instruction from the leadership of the Congress party to hold any talks. So the matter is closed there,” Chidambaram, who is also the party’s senior election observer, said in Panaji.
The coming legislative assembly election in Goa has transformed into a multi-corner contest – with the TMC and the Aam Aadmi Party running aggressive campaigns as the traditional Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) versus Congress intensifies.
Of the five MLAs that the Congress had after ten of its legislators defected to the BJP, Congress lost two MLAs to the TMC and one to the Bharatiya Janata Party in recent months. The TMC also took several block-level and local leaders into its fold after it arrived in Goa in September 2021.
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Former Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro, now a TMC Rajya Sabha MP, was the first Goan MLA to resign from the Congress and join the TMC. Three-time Congress MLA and the party’s working president at the time, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, also joined the TMC in December 2021 only to quit 20 days later.
TMC general secretary Abhishek Banerjee had said on Thursday that the party had made an offer to the senior Congress leadership to form an alliance in the Goa Assembly election.
“Pavan Varma, the national vice president of TMC, went to Mr Chidambaram’s house on Lodhi Road (in Delhi) on December 24 at 1:30 pm and requested him that we should come together and fight it out for the sake of every Goan, keep our egos aside. But he failed to rise above his own political and petty interests. This is extremely unfortunate,” Abhishek, nephew of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, had said in Panaji.
On Abhishek’s statement, Chidambaram said, “I hold a very humble position in the Congress party. I am not an equal to the general secretary of the TMC. I cannot engage in a verbal exchange with the distinguished MP from Bengal,” the Congress leader said on Sunday.
Apart from the TMC, the Shiv Sena and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said they had approached the Congress – their coalition partner in the Maha Vikas Aghadi government in Maharashtra – for a pre-poll tie-up in Goa but their discussions yielded no results. Sena and NCP are contesting the polls together.
Chidambaram on Sunday said there was no “meeting ground” in the alliance talks, but it does not mean that the three parties are no longer “friends”.
“We did discuss with the Shiv Sena and the NCP. Unfortunately, there was no meeting ground. That doesn’t mean we ceased to be friends. We were friends, we are friends and we will be friends. But in this particular election, in this particular state there was no meeting point,” he said.
He also said that the party was not thinking about the possibility of a post-poll tie-up at the moment. “That question does not arise now. We are confident that the people of Goa will vote into office a stable, single-party government. At the moment we are not thinking of the post-poll situation. Post-poll, I think, a single party Congress government will be elected to the office.”
The former Union minister also spoke of the exits from the BJP in this election season.
Denied a BJP ticket from Panaji, Utpal Parrikar – the son of late defence minister and BJP leader Manohar Parrikar – announced on Friday that he will fight the election as an Independent. BJP veteran and former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar too quit the party on Saturday.
“What the BJP did to us in 2017 to 2019 is coming to haunt them. What you sow, you reap. In 2017, 2019 and elsewhere in Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Manipur and in other states….the BJP sowed poison and it’s reaping this poison,” Chidambaram said, referring to the defections.
At least 36 election candidates of the Congress took a pledge of loyalty in a temple, a church and a mosque on Saturday, swearing to remain with the party for the next five years if they are elected. This was seen as the Congress’s step to portray party unity after 17 of its MLAs elected in 2017 were reduced to just five by 2019.
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