Goa assembly polls: Cong’s P Chidambaram says no tie-up with NCP, Shiv Sena but ‘will remain friends’
Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena form the ruling coalition – the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – in Maharashtra, but a deal couldn’t be reached between them in Goa as there was no “meeting point” in terms of their respective demands, P Chidambaram said.
The Congress party will not contest together with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Shiv Sena in the upcoming Goa assembly elections, party’s senior leader and election observer for Goa P Chidambaram said on Sunday. However, he said that the three parties “will remain friends” and the Congress will look for more opportunities to work with the two parties.
Congress, NCP and the Shiv Sena form the ruling coalition – the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) – in Maharashtra, but a deal couldn’t be reached between them as there was no “meeting point” in terms of their respective demands, Chidambaram told news agency PTI.
“We tried. They made certain proposals. We made certain proposals. Unfortunately, there was no meeting point. I acknowledge that both sides had compulsions and despite our best efforts we could not find a meeting point,” the former finance minister said. “Nevertheless, we are friends and will remain friends. After the elections, we will continue to explore opportunities to work together with NCP and Shiv Sena,” he added.
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However, the NCP and the Sena have already formed a pre-poll alliance in Goa, recently on January 19, during the announcement of which they said that the Congress had not responded to their proposal.
“The NCP tried to talk to Congress in Goa for a pre-poll alliance. We told them that let's work together so that we can be able to take on the government. But this proposal of ours was not responded to. We felt that the Congress party was not giving us the due respect that we deserve,” senior NCP leader Praful Patel had then said.
Meanwhile, on questions about the absence of an alliance with the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Chidambaram said that Mamata Banerjee’s party tried to poach Congress leaders to their camp while offering for an alliance.
“On December 24, TMC's Vice President met me and suggested that the two parties should work together in Goa. I agreed to convey the suggestion to our leadership, and I promptly did,” Chidambaram said. He also alleged that the TMC continued to poach Congress leaders, sarpanches and panches from constituencies like Vasco and Marmugao.
“I received no instructions from our leadership to hold talks with TMC. I am sure our leadership had taken into account all the facts and circumstances. As far as I was concerned, the matter rested there,” he further said. The TMC is debuting in the Goa polls this year and has decided to contest in all 40 seats.
The Congress won a majority in the 2017 state assembly elections, however, couldn’t form the government as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had claimed stakes with the support of some regional parties and independents. Also, Congress has been rocked by frequent defections of its leaders to either the BJP or the TMC in recent past.
Referring to this, Chidambaram said that the candidates to the constituencies have been selected based on recommendations from block level and “loyalty” was the party’s top priority. He also said that candidates have taken pledges before a place of worship.
“The candidates spontaneously offered to take a pledge before a Temple, a Church and a Dargah. I think such a pledge has removed any lingering doubt about the loyalty of our candidates to the Congress Party and to the voters who will vote them to office,” the Congress leader said.
Goa is scheduled to go to polls for all 40 assembly seats on February 14 and the counting of votes will be done on March 10, according to the Election Commission of India’s schedule.