MUMBAI: With only a month to go for the Goa assembly polls, the pre-poll alliance talks between the Shiv Sena and Congress have not materialised and the Sena has chalked out plans to go solo if the talks fail. The Uddhav Thackeray-led party has prepared to contest 16 seats in Goa in a bid to increase its electoral presence outside its home state.
On Monday evening, Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra cabinet minister Aaditya Thackeray helmed a virtual meeting of senior party leaders, including Sena MPs Sanjay Raut and Vinayak Raut, and minister Uday Samant to discuss the party’s plan for Goa which goes to polls on February 14.
Last week, Sanjay Raut held a meeting with Congress leaders from Goa, including the leader of the opposition Digambar Kamat, AICC Goa-in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, and state Congress president Girish Chodankar to forge an ‘MVA-like alliance’ in Goa. However, according to senior party leaders, the talks did not materialise owing to differences over seat-sharing.
Raut however maintained that the talks between the two parties have not broken down yet. “With regards to seat-sharing, we had sought five seats from the Congress. They were ready to give about three seats, including Priol and Porvorim but we wanted Mapusa and Pernem which are close to the Maharashtra border. But it was not possible for them. They had already released the list (of candidates) on some of these seats,” said Raut.
The Sena leader further added, “We are prepared to go solo, but I can firmly say that our talks have not ended with the Congress… We still feel that the Congress, NCP and Shiv Sena must contest together to keep the BJP out of power. We are still trying. If not, we are ready to contest 16 seats.”
A senior Sena leader said that the seats sought by the party were those where the Congress was weak and had never won. “We sought seats which the Congress never won in the last 50 years. The Congress will not win these seats in the upcoming elections as well. It was a good proposal (from us) not to waste those seats,” a Sena leader said.
Sena leaders said that the local leadership of the Congress painted a very different picture about its strength and ability to win before the central leadership. “The local leaders of the Congress still think that they are in a better position in Goa. They still think that they can come to power on their own, so why divide the power. That is the sense I got through our discussions. But our discussions have not broken down,” Raut said.
The Goa election is expected to be an interesting one as besides the traditional parties, Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too have entered the fray. The Nationalist Congress Party, which has some presence in the state, will also be fielding candidates in the elections. Raut said that the main contest, however, will be between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). AAP and TMC will ‘reduce’ the Congress’ chances in the upcoming election, he said.
Doonited Affiliated: Syndicate News Hunt