Goa Assembly election | Lourenco hints at returning to Congress camp

AICC general secy Priyanka Gandhi interacts with women belonging to tribal community at Morpirla village in Goa.

AICC general secy Priyanka Gandhi interacts with women belonging to tribal community at Morpirla village in Goa.

Goa’s volatile political arena continued to be plagued by ‘musical chairs’ ahead of the State Assembly election, with former three-time MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco now quitting from the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) less than a month after he had left the Congress for the TMC.


Mr. Lourenco, the former MLA from Curtorim in South Goa, quit the TMC on Sunday without giving any reason. He sent a handwritten letter of resignation informing Ms. Banerjee about his decision to leave the party. He further said that his supporters had urged him to rejoin the Congress party.


“Congress leader Michael Lobo has asked me to rejoin the Congress party. I will listen to what my people say,” he said. Mr. Lobo, a former BJP minister-turned-Congressman, had urged Mr. Lourenco to “boost the Congress’ strength in Goa” by re-joining the party.


On Monday, Mr. Lourenco, appearing before reporters, profusely apologised to his supporters and well-wishers for committing the ‘mistake’ of deserting the Congress for the TMC.

He had exited the Congress despite the party including Mr. Lourenco’s name in the first list of eight candidates.


“When I took the decision [to join the TMC], I hurt a lot of people, be it close friends, well-wishers, my supporters and my family... I took this decision in the interests of my people because I was promised a new dawn by joining the TMC,” said Mr. Lourenco, adding that he had faced a severe ‘backlash’ from his loyal constituents following his decision to join the TMC.


He further justified his quitting the TMC on grounds that his supporters were allegedly ‘apprehensive’ about his alliance with an “outside party” that would split votes in the Goa election.


Yet, barely a month ago, Mr. Lourenco had defended his entry into the TMC by remarking that it was the only party capable of taking on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa and had censured the Goa Congress’ “dithering and vacillation” in formulating a concrete strategy against the BJP, which had allegedly forced him into quitting the party.


Mr. Lourenco’s exit from the Congress in December last year had left the severely-depleted Congress with just two MLAs in its fold - former Chief Ministers and veterans Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane. Mr. Lourenco had resigned as the MLA from Curtorim and also as a member of Congress last December to join the TMC.


Mr. Lourenco, who was a working president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, had attracted widespread censure from his party top brass with veterans like Mr. Kamat condemning his ‘suicidal step’ in joining the TMC.


Mr. Digambar Kamat had also said that the Congress had given too much importance to Mr. Lourenco and had “pampered” the ex-MLA by overlooking his mistakes even after the latter had had meetings with BJP election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis and Aam Aadmi Party representatives.


According to Goa-based academic and political analyst Manoj Kamat, Mr. Lourenco’s hints at returning to the Congress fold was proof that the TMC’s strategy of indiscriminate poaching in Goa was unravelling.


“Mr. Lourenco has apparently realized that cult of personality is not stronger than the brand image of the Congress, his former party. He thought he would easily win on a TMC ticket. However, Curtorim has always been a Congress bastion regardless of who contests from there, and Mr. Lourenco perhaps realizes that he is not bigger than his former party,” Mr. Manoj Kamat said.


He further expressed the possibility that the Congress, despite announcing a hardline on defectors, may re-induct Mr. Lourenco into the party fold owing to pragmatic reasons.

“In the event the Congress takes him in again, the party will make sure to clip Mr. Lourenco’s wings and will not be so tolerant of his future indiscretions [talks with other parties],” Mr. Manoj Kamat said.


Last month, another ex-Goa MLA, Lavoo Mamledar had resigned from the TMC within months of joining it, accusing Ms. Banerjee’s party of being “communal” in nature and trying to divide “Goans on the basis of religion”.


Mr. Mamledar, a former legislator from the Ponda Assembly constituency in South Goa, who left the TMC along with four others after penning a strongly worded letter to Ms. Banerjee, later remarked that he thought the West Bengal-based party “worse than the BJP”.

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Printable version | May 16, 2022 8:47:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/goa-assembly/goa-assembly-election-lourenco-hints-at-returning-to-congress-camp/article38281389.ece