In Goa, fight is between Congress and BJP, says Rahul Gandhi

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The Goa Assembly election is a straight fight between the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party and not between any other party, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Friday.

Claiming that the Congress would form a government “in partnership with the people of Goa,” Mr. Gandhi said the party had taken a tough stance on defectors this time by not giving them tickets.

“We have given tickets to new faces. The Congress will form a government with full majority,” said the former Congress president, while appealing to the Goan electorate not to “waste votes” by exercising their franchise for other parties.

Mr. Gandhi, on a day-long tour of the coastal State, was addressing a virtual public rally in BJP Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s constituency in Sankhali (Sanquelim).

Style of functioning

The biggest difference between the BJP and the Congress’ style of functioning was that the former took decisions without holding any discussion with the public, said Mr. Gandhi.

Earlier, in an emulation of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) stratagem, all Congress candidates signed a legal affidavit in Mr. Gandhi’s presence vowing not to defect. The affidavit was signed also by the candidates of the Goa Forward Party (GFP), an ally of the Congress.

All candidates took oath on their affidavits pledging not to resign from the party or switch over to any other political outfit during next five years.

The Congress, which had emerged as the single-largest party after the 2017 Goa Assembly election by winning 17 of the 40 Assembly seats, had nonetheless failed to form the government. The party was dealt a major blow in 2019 when 10 of its MLAs switched allegiance to join the BJP. The current strength of the Congress has whittled down to just two MLAs — former Chief Ministers Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat.

Protection of ecology

Meanwhile, stressing the need for protecting Goa’s environment, Mr. Gandhi reiterated his promise made during October visit to the State that the Congress would not let Goa be “transformed into a coal hub”.

“We don’t want ‘two Indias’ — one of Ambanis and Adanis and the other of the poor … If the Congress forms a government in Goa, then it will be a government that looks after the welfare of the poor. We are taking a historic decision in Goa. We are going to implement the ‘Nyay’ scheme here by which every month, a sum of ₹6,000 will be transferred directly to the bank account of the poorest person of Goa,” said the Congress leader.

Mr. Gandhi began his tour by participating in door-to-door campaign in the Mormugao constituency for the Congress candidate Sankalp Amonkar. Mr. Amonkar is pitted against the BJP’s Milind Naik, the incumbent Mormugao MLA and former Cabinet Minister.

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