Goa polls: Congress decides to act swiftly to stake claim for government formation

By PTI

PANAJI: Congress veteran P Chidambaram held a meeting with the Goa Assembly poll candidates of his party and those of ally GFP on Wednesday night, where it was decided that the alliance will name its leader immediately after the election results are out and stake claim for government formation, sources said.

The decision is meant to avoid a repeat of the 2017 fiasco when the Congress had failed to form a government in Goa despite scoring the maximum number of seats.

Polling for the 40-member House was held on February 14 and the counting of votes will be taken up on Thursday.

Most exit polls have predicted a hung House in the tiny coastal state, leading the political parties to formulate their strategies keeping in mind different post-result scenarios.

The Congress had contested the election on 37 seats, while ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) had fielded three candidates.

The Congress, which had kept its candidates in a luxury hotel at Bambolim near Panaji in North Goa since Tuesday evening, shifted them to another resort in Margao town on Wednesday evening.

This resort is owned by one of the party candidates.

Sources said that Chidambaram, who is Congress’s Goa election in-charge, held a meeting with the candidates of the Congress and the GFP, which was also attended by Karnataka Congress president D K Shivkumar, who is currently camping in Goa.

During the meeting, it was decided to elect the leader of the group immediately after the results are out and stake claim to form the government with state Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai.

“The appointment with the governor would be sought immediately after the results are declared. We don’t want to commit the mistakes that happened after the 2017 election results,” a senior party office-bearer said.

Talking to reporters, Shivkumar said that all the candidates are together and there is no worry of any split.

“BJP is known for its habit of poaching. That is why we have asked all our candidates to stay in a common hotel,” he said.

In 2017, despite winning 17 seats, the Congress could not come to power as the BJP, which had bagged 13 seats, allied with some independents and regional parties to form the government under the leadership of its stalwart Manohar Parrikar.

The BJP eyes a third consecutive term in office.