‘Joined NDA only for Parrikar’ — BJP’s one-time Goa ally set to partner with Congress in 2022

The Goa Forward Party, which was part of the BJP-led NDA until April, is now in talks with the Congress for the 2022 assembly polls. 

Vijai Sardesai
File photo of Vijai Sardesai | Photo: @vijai.sardesai Home | Facebook

New Delhi: The Goa Forward Party (GFP) has “in-principle” agreed to an alliance with the Congress for the 2022 assembly polls, GFP president Vijai Sardesai has said. 

GFP was a part of the BJP-led NDA until April this year, after which it split and has since been a vocal critic of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

“We have been in talks with the Congress leadership for a long time, proposing that all like-minded forces should come against the BJP. So, in principle, we have agreed for an alliance,” Sardesai, the former Goa deputy chief minister, told ThePrint. 

He, however, added that the alliance is yet to be formalised and modalities have to be worked out.

In April 2021, Sardesai had announced the GFP’s formal withdrawal from the NDA, shooting off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, saying there is “no room for reconsideration”. 

Speaking to ThePrint, Sardesai explained that the alliance had effectively ended two years before that in March 2019, when Sawant assumed office.

“We have been opposed to the BJP’s ideology. The only reason we allied with them was because of Manohar Parrikar and his vision. But since his demise, the party has done nothing for Goa,” Sardesai said.

Ahead of the 2017 assembly polls in Goa, Sardesai’s GFP had led a heightened anti-BJP campaign. 

When the results were announced, the Congress emerged as the largest party winning 17 seats, but the GFP went ahead and supported the BJP and all its three MLAs, including Sardesai, were made ministers in the Parrikar government. 

This move of siding with the BJP was widely criticised by many of the GFP’s own members and supporters.  

However, after Sawant was made the CM, following Parrikar’s demise, all three MLAs of the GFP were ousted from the cabinet. 

In May this year, the GFP and the Congress contested the Margao Municipal Council polls together and won the chairperson and vice-chairperson posts. 

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Should have quit NDA after Parrikar’s death: GFP

While Sardesai and the other GFP MLAs were sacked from the cabinet in July 2019, he said it was “his fault to not leave sooner”.

“I should have quit BJP immediately after Parrikarji’s death. It was my fault,” he said. “We were in the alliance only because of him and are generally very anti-BJP.”

Sardesai also slammed CM Sawant, calling him “the biggest enemy of Goa” since he took over.

“Goa was set to be a coal hub but he sold the Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park to industrialists. This goes against the development of Goa,” Sardesai alleged.

He was referring to the controversy surrounding the two sanctuaries. In April 2020, the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife cleared multiple projects across various states, including two in Goa, which would require setting up transmission lines that would impact the state’s famous Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary and the Mollem National Park.

But the project has faced massive opposition since then, from environmentalists, activists, and the opposition.

We have to speak to our party cadre: Congress

The Congress party, however, isn’t as enthusiastic about announcing its alliance with GFP for the assembly polls.

“We are in talks with our party cadre; we have to ask them whether this is an alliance that would be agreeable to them,” Girish Chodankar, the Congress’ Goa president, told ThePrint. “We need to speak to our party cadre and understand whether this alliance would help us or have a negative impact.” 

However, Dinesh Gundu Rao, the AICC in-charge of Goa, has said the Congress is in talks with other regional parties for an alliance, including the GDP.

ThePrint reached Rao for a comment via calls and texts but there was no response until the publishing of this report.

Sources said the party is weighing its options well before announcing a formal alliance with the GFP “given its history of allying with the NDA”.

“They wanted a ministerial position in the government so they joined hands with BJP in the last election; so, we have to be careful,” a Goa Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity.

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

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