Express News Service
BELAGAVI: As the countdown begins for the assembly results on Thursday, political parties in Goa are fiercely guarding their potential winning candidates from covetous poachers. With a hung assembly looking imminent, the Congress moved its candidates to a resort in Madgaon on Wednesday, while AAP herded its flock to an unknown “safe location”.
To avoid a repeat of 2017 — when a large group of Congress legislators defected to the BJP despite the party emerging as the single largest — the Congress has rushed a team headed by P Chidambaram, D K Shivakumar, Satish Jarkiholi, Dinesh Gundurao and Sunil Kedar to Goa to keep its flock together.
According to sources, the Congress is likely to herd its winning legislators to Rajasthan if there is a hung assembly, and the BJP falls short of a majority. However, KPCC Working President Satish Jarkiholi said the Congress will get a majority and form the government on its own.
On his arrival in Goa, Jarkiholi said the party sent a team of top leaders to Goa to work out strategies to help the Congress form the government in case of a hung assembly. Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) President Girish Chodankar said his party was in talks with AAP and MGP, and that AAP had made it clear it would not support the BJP under any circumstances.
“The BJP may resort to poaching of Congress MLAs only if it falls way short of a majority. It is confident of getting the support of five to six MLAs, mainly Independents and MGP. Although BJP calls MGP a natural ally, the MGP is yet to clarify its stand on a possible post-poll alliance,’’ said senior journalist Kishor Naik Gaonkar.
BJP’s election in-charge of Goa Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP would get a majority on its own but would include MLAs of other parties in the government any way. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant went a step further, claiming his party would get the numbers on its own and a meeting had been fixed at 4pm on Thursday at the party office in Panaji.
Despite the BJP leadership’s repeated claims that MGP would ally with it, MGP chief Sudhin Dhavalikar told a section of media on Wednesday that he would not support a Pramod Sawant-led BJP in Goa, as it had not only “bought” the MGP MLAs but also sacked him (Dhavalikar) from the cabinet in 2019 without reason.
Regional parties and potential Independent MLAs have kept both the BJP and Congress on tenterhooks in Goa and are waiting for the results before calling the shots.