Goa elections: Can’t forge alliance with big brother attitude, says TMC

Updated on Jan 13, 2022 01:04 AM IST

The TMC is not averse to a larger alliance for opposition unity to take on the BJP in the Goa assembly elections but such a coalition cannot be forged with a “big brother” attitude, the party said.

The TMC is not averse to a larger alliance for opposition unity to take on the BJP in the Goa assembly polls but such a coalition cannot be forged with a ‘big brother’ attitude, party leader Sushmita Dev said.
The TMC is not averse to a larger alliance for opposition unity to take on the BJP in the Goa assembly polls but such a coalition cannot be forged with a ‘big brother’ attitude, party leader Sushmita Dev said.
ByPress Trust of India, New Delhi

The TMC is not averse to a larger alliance for opposition unity to take on the BJP in the Goa assembly polls but such a coalition cannot be forged with a “big brother” attitude, TMC leader Sushmita Dev said on Wednesday in an apparent swipe at the Congress.

Dev, the TMC’s co-incharge for Goa, also hit out at the Congress for stating that her party was fracturing the anti-BJP vote and said that by that logic, the Congress had tried to cut into the anti-BJP vote in West Bengal.

The Rajya Sabha member said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) decided to enter the poll fray in Goa at a time the people of the state want to get rid of the BJP and there is a huge sense of “underconfidence” in the Congress for not being able to form the government after the last assembly polls despite being the single largest party.

“Till today, the Congress has not been able to explain that to the people of Goa. When we entered the fray there was a vacuum in a sense -- the people did not want the BJP and they were sceptical and pessimistic about the Congress,” Dev told PTI in an interview.

Assembly polls for all 40 seats in Goa will be held on February 14. The TMC has been carrying out an aggressive campaign, including on social media platforms such as Koo, to boost its chances in a contest involving several players.

Dev said after Mamata Banerjee leading the TMC to a landslide victory in the West Bengal assembly polls over the BJP against all odds, people in Goa now want a strong leader and a party that does not cow down.

Asked about TMC’s Goa in-charge Mahua Moitra’s tweet on Opposition unity that set off speculation over a possible grand alliance including the Congress and the TMC, Dev said, “When you talk about Opposition unity, it has a huge merit. But...when you unite with somebody, the nature of that unity depends on the strength of that party.”Citing the TMC’s alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, Dev said her party is giving its alliance partner in Goa its due and respect.”Question is, whether it is the Congress or any other party, if there has to be a larger alliance for opposition unity then any party, whether you are a national or regional, you must realise your strengths and weaknesses. You cannot come with a big brother attitude,” she said.

Dev said if parties can sit across the table and come up with a strategy to take on BJP, keeping everyone’s strength and weaknesses at the forefront, without the attitude of being a “big brother”, the TMC is not averse to it.”I would not like to name ‘A’ party or ‘B’ party. But any alliance should be backed by logic, it must be reasonable. We need to have a mindset of not having a big daddy approach,” she added.

The Congress has dismissed talk of alliance with the TMC with AICC general secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal tweeting on Monday, “The rumour in circulation that a possible alliance with TMC was discussed by Shri @RahulGandhi in today’s meeting is completely baseless & untrue.””Let me assure that the Congress party is confident- we will put Goa back on the path to progress soon,” he had said.

Hitting out at those calling TMC a “vote cutter” in Goa, Dev said that the criticism was not fair and meant indirectly telling the party that a leader like Mamata Banerjee should be confined to West Bengal for the rest of her life.”Today, why doesn’t anybody say that to Priyanka Gandhi. Isn’t Priyanka Gandhi cutting votes of the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. You don’t ask that question to Priyanka Gandhi in UP or to anybody in Odisha just because they have the banner of a national party, but they are zero in so many states,” Dev, who quit the Congress to join the TMC last year, said.”They (the Congress) should also shut shop and stop cutting votes of other regional parties like RJD, SP, Shiv Sena. So, such an argument is a fallacy,” she said.

Asked about Congress’ Goa polls in-charge P Chidambaram’s remarks that TMC and AAP are fracturing the anti-BJP vote, Dev said, “Mr Chidambaram is a very astute politician, very senior to me. Mr Chidambaram should first answer the question: Didn’t the Congress try to fracture the anti-BJP vote in Bengal?”She said Chidambaram should ask former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi to shut shop in Bengal.

She claimed that Chidambaram had to be sent to Goa because the Congress’ situation in the state was not turning out how it expected it to.

Dev said that in line with his argument, Chidambaram should also think of compromising some seats and not fracture the vote of strong leaders like Kiran Kandolkar and Luizinho Faleiro in their respective seats.

She also slammed the Congress for alleging that the TMC was poaching its leaders in Goa, saying that going by that argument isn’t Michael Lobo or Revanth Reddy or Nana Parole joining the Congress, poaching.

Asked if the TMC’s national aspirations and Mamata Banerjee’s 2024 pitch to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi depends on Goa results, Dev said in elections there are ups and downs and if TMC wins Goa, it doesn’t mean that the PM candidate for 2024 is decided nor losing the polls would mean Mamata Banerjee or her party is out of the race for 2024.”That is putting things in boxes and that is not how things work. Many sets of elections will happen (before 2024),” she said.”Can we say that if Congress is below 10 in UP then Rahul Gandhi is out of the race for PM. No one is asking that question so why should we be asked that question,” she said.

Dev, citing Mamata Banerjee’s remarks in the last Opposition meeting in August 2021, said -- “If you want to defeat BJP, you just can’t depend on Mamata Banerjee in Bengal or RJD in Bihar and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, you need the likes of Jagan Reddy, KCR and other regional satraps to come in.””Will they sit with Congress, what is their history (with the Congress)? So Mamata Banerjee has many roles to play, a tall leader like Sharad Pawar has many roles to play. Congress will not be able to bring many regional satraps on board for its sheer history. Jagan Reddy is a big example of that,” she said.

Dev also explained Mamata Banerjee’s “no UPA” statement, saying it must be seen in context that UPA was an understanding to run a government and today there should be a larger form of UPA with more alliance partners.

Dev expressed confidence that the TMC would form the next government in Goa, asserting that a month before pilling was crucial.In the 2017 Goa assembly elections, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party by winning 17 out of the total 40 seats. However, the BJP then quickly tied-up with some regional parties and independents to form government in the coastal state.

The Congress is now left with just two assembly seats in Goa.

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