‘Even if we get majority…’: Goa Congress leader reaches out to non-BJP parties
Goa Congress leader Digambar Kamat’s statement is designed to indicate the party’s readiness to join hands with other parties to push the BJP out of power
PANAJI: The Congress, which has drawn up elaborate plans to shield its newly-elected lawmakers from poaching in anticipation of the party emerging as the single largest party in Goa, on Monday said the Congress will associate other “non-BJP parties” in its government even if the party wins a clear majority.
Monday’s statement, seen as outreach to other opposition parties in the state, comes against the backdrop of a bunch of exit polls that predicted a hung assembly.
“We feel that our party will win a clear majority and will come to power in alliance with Goa Forward,” added Digambar Kamat, a prime contender for the chief minister’s chair if the Congress does succeed in securing a majority on its own or with support from its allies.
“Even if the party gets a majority, the Congress would like to associate all non-BJP parties,” the leader of Opposition in the assembly Kamat said. Ahead of voting on February 14, the Congress had firmly rejected overtures from other parties including the Trinamool Congress to form a joint opposition platform.
Exit polls have indicated that the BJP and the Congress may be in a neck-and-neck fight and that both parties may fall some distance short of the majority mark of 21 in the 40-member assembly. The Congress emerged as the single largest party in 2017 but it was the BJP that quickly managed to cobble together a coalition and formed the government.
Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar said the exit polls had read the situation incorrectly, just as many of them failed to predict in 2017 that the Congress will emerge as the single largest party.
“We will get a majority on our own. The exit polls showed the BJP to be winning the 2017 assembly elections and us, in the second position. That was reversed by the actual results. We have more faith in the results that will be given by the people,” Girish Chodankar said.
The BJP too brushed aside the exit polls for Goa.
“We will be getting a full majority,” Goa BJP party president Sadanand Shet Tanavade said.
India Today- Axis My India poll has the Congress emerging as the single largest party with 16-20 seats while the BJP is second with 14-18 seats. Times Now shows the Congress to be winning 16 seats while the BJP is winning 14 seats. Republic P-Mark has both the Congress and the BJP on 13-17 seats while ABP News - C Voter shows the BJP in the lead with 13-17 seats while the Congress and the MGP-TMC alliance are both shown to be winning 5-9 seats.
The Congress also held a meeting of its candidates to discuss the logistics of counting day and the party’s plan to meet the governor to stake claim to form the government, if possible, on March 10 evening.
“As soon as the entire results are out, we will have a CLP (Congress legislative party) meeting, within a few minutes we will elect a CLP leader and we will go and stake the claim,” Congress in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters.
The Congress wants to ensure that there is no repeat of the debacle of 2017 when the party, despite emerging as the single largest party, lost out to the BJP which was able to convince smaller parties like the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to join them despite running an acerbic anti-BJP campaign in the run-up to the 2017 polls.
The party has also been talking to leaders of other parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. The Congress has also dispatched Congress senior observer P Chidambaram and Dinesh Gundu Rao to Goa to oversee the party’s strategy in Goa ahead of the polls. Chidambaram and Gundu Rao arrived in Goa on Sunday.