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With Khel Zatlo poll slogan, Mamata seeks pole position in Goa

December 13, 2021 20:21 IST

Giving a new poll slogan of 'Khel Zatlo' in Goa, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said an anti-BJP alliance has already taken shape in the coastal state under the banner of her party TMC and now it is for the Congress to decide whether it wants to join the grouping ahead of elections to take on the saffron outfit.

IMAGE: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with TMC supporters in North Goa. Photograph: Ashok Majumder/ANI Photo

Addressing a public meeting at Benaulim in South Goa, Banerjee said the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will not allow the ruling BJP to win the elections in Goa, due in early 2022, this time.

At a separate event, Banerjee, who is on a two-day visit to the state, said there will be "Khel Zatlo" in Goa ('Zatlo' is a Konkani term to mean 'will happen'). She had earlier raised the 'Khela Hobe' (game is on) slogan during the West Bengal Assembly poll campaign earlier this year.

At the public meeting, she said the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) has already joined her anti-BJP alliance and now the NCP's lone MLA in the state, Churchill Alemao, has merged the party's state legislative unit with the Trinamool Congress (TMC).

"If the Congress thinks they want to defeat the BJP, we have no objection. We already have the MGP on board. If you want to join, join us. We have already formed the alliance," the Bengal CM said after inducting Alemao into her party.

Earlier in the day, Alemao merged the NCP's Goa legislature unit with the TMC, giving a boost to the Kolkata-headquartered party ahead of the assembly polls in the tiny seaside state.

Talking about the anti-BJP alliance, Banerjee, who is also the chairperson of the TMC, claimed her party has already become an alternative to the saffron outfit in the state.

"The MGP has joined the alliance, the NCP has merged its legislature unit (with TMC). If anyone wants not to divide votes, come and join us," she in a message directed at the Congress.

"We will not allow the BJP to win (in Goa) this time," she vowed.

Seeking to strike a chord with the Christian community, which has a sizeable presence in Goa, Banerjee said she has been attending Christmas midnight masses since the last 20 years without a break.

"After our government was formed, we celebrate Christmas in Kolkata in a big way. I am going to inaugurate a function (on occasion of the upcoming festival) on 20th of this month," she said.

Banerjee also spoke out her closeness to Mother Teresa due to which she said she was even invited to the Vatican.

Earlier, while addressing local TMC leaders, she said her party has entered the poll fray not to control the stater, but to use its experience to help Goans.

She exuded confidence that the TMC will win the Goa assembly elections and said if anyone wants to defeat the BJP, it is up to them to support her party in achieving that goal.

Terming Goa as a "cute, beautiful and very intelligent" state, Banerjee said she has a plan for the tourist state, just the way she had for West Bengal, which will be implemented within six months of the TMC coming to power here.

She said earlier her party had not thought of contesting in Goa, but when it was realised that other parties were not giving a fight to the BJP, the TMC decided to jump into the poll fray here.

"All these years we did not come to Goa, but we realised no one was doing anything. No one was fighting against the BJP. That is why we thought of coming here," she said.

In a veiled reference to the Congress, Banerjee said, "When you can fight against us in West Bengal, why can't we fight against you in Goa. We want to work with you, but we will fight (on our own). We won't listen to you and do 'half understanding' with the BJP."

"BJP ke khilaf me khela hobe, khel zatlo, BJP hatao," the TMC chief said, while raising the pitch for ousting the BJP from power in Goa.

She said films and football are among various things that connect West Bengal and Goa.

Several football legends from West Bengal would be arriving in Goa to campaign for the TMC along with local leaders, she added.

Banerjee further said she had lent a lot of support to the Konkan Railway Corporation Ltd project in Goa during her tenure as the railway minister.

"I had also come for the inauguration of the project. That time, we never thought of contesting from Goa," she said.

Banerjee accused the BJP of creating a fake video by showing visuals of Bangladesh to project it as human rights violation in West Bengal.

"We have gone to the Supreme Court against the video. They (BJP) want to finish West Bengal, they want to finish Mamata Banerjee, "she said.

In the 2017 Goa assembly elections, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party in the 40-member house, but failed to form a government.

The BJP quickly stitched a post-poll alliance with some regional parties and independents, and formed its government.

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