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Goa Congress leader riles ally GFP by blaming it for poll debacle, gets show-cause notice

Congress on Saturday issued a show-cause notice to its leader Vijai Bhike after his statement blaming the ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) for the poor performance in the last month's Goa Assembly elections drew a sharp response from the latter.

Mr. Bhike's comment was "malicious" and intended to jeopardize the "healthy alliance", the notice said, seeking explanation from him.

The BJP won 20 out of 40 seats in the Goa elections and is set to form government with the support of two MGP MLAs and three Independents. Congress was a distant second, winning only 11 seats, six less than the last time, while GFP won only one, a loss of two seats compared to 2017.

Mr. Bhike, chief of the North Goa district Congress unit, said on Friday that joining hands with the GFP was a mistake.

“I think we made the wrong decision by tying up with the Goa Forward Party as the alliance did not benefit Congress in any way but the other party took advantage of it,” he told reporters at Saligao.

GFP chief Vijai Sardesai failed to win Mayem and Mandrem seats for his candidates, Mr. Bhike claimed, adding that the GFP's vote share fell to 1.8% from 3.5% in 2017.

On Saturday, GFP's Santosh Kumar Sawant (candidate from Mayem) and Deepak Kalangutkar (candidate from Mandrem) slammed Mr. Bhike.

“One should recall that GFP president Vijai Sardesai had given a call for forming `Team Goa' (alliance) against the BJP in 2020. But Congress leaders didn't act on it until Sardesai met Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi and the alliance was forged for the 2022 polls," Mr. Kalangutkar said.

Even after Mr. Sardesai met Rahul Gandhi, local Congress leaders kept on saying that the “alliance is yet to be announced” which created doubts about the tie-up, they added.

“We condemn Bhike's statement. I doubt if Bhike is making such a statement after consulting his senior party leaders or if he is being dictated by someone else,” Mr. Kalangutkar said.

Mr. Sawant said division of votes helped the BJP.

“If the alliance had been forged one-and-a-half years ago, results would have been different,” he said.

Later in the day, senior vice president of the Goa Congress M.K. Sheikh, following directions of the party's Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, issued a show-cause notice to Mr. Bhike, asking him to explain his statement within three days or face disciplinary action.

Mr. Bhike made “derogatory remarks” against the alliance partner Goa Forward Party and its leader Vijai Sardesai “without taking the party into confidence and without authorisation of the party and contrary to the stand of the Indian National Congress,” said the notice.

“Such statements not only damage the standing of the Indian National Congress but also raise doubts about the genuineness of the alliance which continues to be in existence even as of date,” Mr. Sheikh said in the notice.

Such reckless statements are not only malicious but they are also intended to "jeopardise the healthy alliance", the notice further said.

The BJP, though comfortably placed to stake a claim to form government, has yet to do so. On Friday, Congress had said it was ready to consider all possible alternatives to keep the saffron party away from power in Goa.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 9:35:59 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/goa-congress-leader-riles-ally-gfp-by-blaming-it-for-poll-debacle-gets-show-cause-notice/article65240506.ece