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Home > News > PTI

Congress faces heat in Goa ahead of polls

Sunil Gatade in New Delhi | April 30, 2007 08:36 IST

Ahead of the assembly polls in Goa in June, the ruling Congress faces several ticklish issues, including a revolt by controversial parliamentarian Churchill Alemao.

Things are warming up for the party as observers believe it is just a matter of time before Alemao leaves the Congress to float his own regional outfit to 'save Goa.'

Congress leaders admit that efforts to persuade Alemao, who was chief minister for a short while, have been given up as there is very little they can do if he has decided to commit 'political suicide.'

Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred DeSouza, head of the local Nationalist Congress Party, created a storm in the Congress in the small state by saying his party would settle for no less than 10 of the total of 40 seats in the assembly.

Congress leaders are, however, hopeful the NCP's leadership at the national level will see reason and give suitable directions to the local unit. The Congress is ready to offer at the most seven seats, sources said.    

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is in a buoyant mood after victories in assembly polls in Uttarakhand and Punjab as well as the civic elections in Delhi. BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy, in-charge of party affairs in the state, feels Goa cannot remain an 'island' and would be in tune with the 'national mood.'

Congress leaders say they are not projecting anyone as a chief ministerial candidate given the fact that besides incumbent Pratapsinh Rane, an old warhorse, the party has three other former chief ministers in its ranks.      

They are state Congress president Ravi Naik, senior Minister Louisinho Faleiro and assembly Speaker Francisco Sardinha.

The polls in Goa scheduled for June 2 have added significance as they are being held close on the heels of the elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Congress general secretary Margaret Alva, in-charge of party affairs in the state, feels the party faces no challenge as 'we are going to polls on the plank of our achievements.'

She claimed the party-led government did 'more than any other government in a short span of 20 months.'

"We will seek a fresh mandate by telling the people about providing a government that works," she said.

Rudy, however, dismissed such claims and alleged that the Congress had 'put on hold' governance in the state and its rule has been marked by corruption.

His comment was in reference to several projects like the Goa sub-plan, mono-rail scheme and a six-lane highway scheme being put on hold.

The BJP also claimed its leader Manohar Parrikar has 'great acceptability' as chief minister among the people in view of his track record.

As the former 'CEO' of Goa, Parrikar has a reputation of honesty, good governance and a certain degree of stability, Rudy said.

Congress leaders refused to buy this argument, saying Goa is basically a Congress state and the saffron party has lost lots of ground there.

Shiv Sena is also contesting the polls on its own. With the UGDP, independents as Alemao's proposed party expected to be in the fray, the contest is expected to be a keen one in view of Goa's small constituencies.

Observers said small groups able to bag two to four seats could ultimately call the shots as had happened earlier in the small state.


© Copyright 2007 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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