Congress readies strategy for Goa as exit polls hint at a close contest

Updated on Mar 08, 2022 05:40 AM IST

While senior Congress leader P Chidambaram is already overseeing the poll affairs in the state, the party may also send Karnataka unit chief D K Shivakumar for additional support

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigning in Goa.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi campaigning in Goa.
By, New Delhi

With exit polls indicating a neck-and-neck fight between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the assembly elections, the Congress has decided to send more managers to Goa as its strategists feel that they might not be able to form a government in a state where lawmakers have frequently switched sides, if the BJP emerges as the single largest party.

“Last time, we emerged as the largest party but it was the BJP who formed the government. It was an eye opener for us,” a senior Congress leader involved with the elections in Goa said, seeking anonymity.

While senior Congress leader P Chidambaram is already overseeing the poll affairs in the state, the party may also send Karnataka unit chief D K Shivakumar for additional support.

Also Read| ‘Even if we get majority…’: Goa Congress leader reaches out to non-BJP parties

“Shivkumar had handled the poaching situation earlier when the BJP toppled the Karnataka government in July 2019 and had packed off the lawmakers who shifted from the ruling side to a resort,” a second senior leader said, requesting anonymity.

In Delhi, party leaders who are closely following the political developments in Goa stressed on the need to emerge as the largest outfit in the coastal state.

“We have formed an alliance with Goa Forward Party and talks are on with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) but if the BJP is invited by the governor first, we might find it difficult to retain our partners,” the second leader pointed out.

Party functionaries familiar with the development said Chidambaram, who is in Goa, is already in touch with potential allies.

While the Trinamool Congress, which is making its poll debut in the state, had in the past approached the Congress for a poll pact, the Congress is not sure if the Mamata Banerjee-led party can bring anything substantial on board.

A third Congress leader, however, said the party is confident of winning a majority on its own in the 40-seat assembly.

In 2017, the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in Goa by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House, but could not come to power as the BJP, which bagged 13, allied with some independents and regional parties to form the government under Manohar Parrikar (now deceased).

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