‘Not decided yet but…’: Goa’s MGP chief confirms alliance talks with AAP

Published on Aug 03, 2021 06:53 PM IST
MGP chief Sudin Dhavalikar ruled out an alliance with the ruling BJP or opposition Congress, insisting that his party will only team up with a “good party”. The AAP appeared to make the cut on this benchmark.
MGP chief Sudin Dhavalikar said he intended to visit Delhi later this month or next to see AAP’s work in the national capital and take the discussions for an alliance in Goa further (Twitter/@SudinDhavalikar)
MGP chief Sudin Dhavalikar said he intended to visit Delhi later this month or next to see AAP’s work in the national capital and take the discussions for an alliance in Goa further (Twitter/@SudinDhavalikar)
ByGerard de Souza

PANAJI: Goa’s Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has discussed the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) but the two parties have not taken a decision yet, a senior MGP leader said on Tuesday.

MGP chief Sudin Dhavalikar ruled out an alliance with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party or the opposition Congress, insisting that his party will only team up with a “good party”. The AAP appeared to make the cut on this benchmark.

“If we do an alliance it will be with a good party. There is no way we will align with either the BJP or the Congress. AAP has discussed this with me... We have not decided anything yet,” former deputy chief minister Dhavalikar told reporters.

The lawmaker from Marcaim in north Goa said his party had an invite from AAP to travel to Delhi for further discussions.

“They have invited us -- the committee -- to go to Delhi, see the work that they have done and then we can again have a discussion.… I also want to go to Delhi to see that work, and either this month or next I will go to Delhi”.

Dhavalikar’s statement after a quiet meeting with AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal during his two-day visit to Goa beginning July 13. Both leaders had then insisted that their meeting was a courtesy visit and they did not discuss a possible alliance between their parties.

Notwithstanding the denials, their meeting did spark buzz about a possible alliance. Political analysts say an alliance would make sense since the MGP is strong in areas where the AAP has little or no presence.

The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party was once a powerful regional party that ruled Goa through the 1960s, 70s and 80s giving Goa its first chief minister Bhausaheb Bandodkar. The party has a large vote base among the state’s politically powerful Bahujan Samaj. However, the MGP has been losing ground to the BJP which has grown at its expense, reducing the party to a minor coalition partner.

But the MGP nevertheless remained a kingmaker in successive coalition governments led by the BJP and Congress.

The AAP, on the other hand, has a visible presence only in constituencies where the Catholic vote holds sway, where the MGP is known to be weak.

AAP state convener Rahul Mhambre said that his party was ‘open’ to alliances but for now there was nothing.

“We are working to strengthen our party and they are working to strengthen theirs. We are open to alliances,” Mhambre said.

Kejriwal’s party contested all 40 seats in the 2017 Goa legislative assembly elections but didn’t win a single seat. To be sure, all its candidates except one lost their security deposit. The lone candidate who secured more than one-sixth of the total votes polled has since moved to the Congress. AAP leaders suggest that an alliance will help them improve their performance.

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