Goa Assembly polls on 4 Feb: Ruling ally MGP says will withdraw support to govt

Panaji: Ruling ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) on Wednesday said it will withdraw support to the BJP-led Goa government on Thursday even as political parties welcomed the state Assembly polls schedule announced by the Election Commission. "We will withdraw support to the BJP-led government tomorrow at 11 am," MGP president Dipak Dhavalikar told PTI, while welcoming the EC's decision to hold Goa polls on 4 February.

"We had said in the past that we would withdraw support only after Code of Conduct is announced. We are sticking to our stand. Now we are free to contest on our own or with pre-poll understanding with like-minded parties," Dhavalikar, who along with his brother Sudin Dhavalikar was recently sacked from the Laxmikant Parsekar-led Cabinet, said.

He said MGP's central committee will meet tomorrow to discuss future strategy of the party. The ruling BJP also welcomed the poll schedule. "BJP was fully prepared to face the election at any time. We have already held 'Vijay Sankalp' rallies across 35 constituencies. The process to select candidates has reached the final stage," party's Goa unit chief Vinay Tendulkar said.

He said it is not difficult for the party to win majority of seats as "through the government and organisation, it was always connected to the voters". "We have our mandals in the constituencies and our cadre is right up to booth level. The organisational set up is our strength," Tendulkar said. The Congress party too welcomed the dates, saying "it is time for the people of Goa to liberate the state from corrupt rule by BJP-led government".

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. PTI

Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar. PTI

"We are fully prepared. At all the block levels, the organisation has been active. We were anticipating the polls to be held in February so it is not a surprise for us," All India Congress Committee secretary Girish Chodankar said.

He said the party will declare its candidates by January 10, much before the final date of filing nominations. On pre-poll alliance with like-minded parties, he said the decision in this regard would be taken by the party high command. The new entrant, AAP claimed that the announcement of early dates is an advantage for the party, which has already announced the names of the maximum number of candidates and also put out its manifesto.

"We welcome early polls. We are the only party which has declared maximum candidates. Our different manifestos are also ready and are in public," Elvis Gomes, AAP's chief ministerial face for Goa polls, said. He claimed that AAP is "much ahead" of other parties which are yet to decide their candidates and manifesto.

"Remaining four candidates would be announced in another two-three days," Gomes added. Meanwhile, a flying squad will attend to any complaint of violation of model code of conduct, during the Goa Assembly polls, within five minutes, Goa Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Kunal said.

"The flying squads would be with a dedicated vehicle which would be monitored by the CEO office and also by director of Transport. There will be streaming of live feed from the vehicle about their activity," Kunal told reporters here.

"We will ensure that flying squads will function in unbiased manner without any fear or favour to any contesting candidate or anyone," Kunal added. The CEO has also asked Commercial Taxes department to monitor sale of consumer items above Rs 5,000. "They will monitor with big distributor to see whether there is any extraordinary jump in the sale of such items," he said.

"We have instructed police to map different vendors so that they are not used as a medium to disburse cash," said the officer. According to the official, the Excise department has been instructed to monitor the bars.

"Our aim is that all the voters should participate in election without any inducement in fair manner," Kunal said. The commission will also keep under surveillance the activities of the political parties, who would be issued extensive guidelines on model code of conduct norms, he added.

The Goa Forward party, which has fielded its candidates in five constituencies, has said that early polls must be a shocker for parties like Congress and MGP, which are yet to decide on the candidates.

"Goa Forward is already on the streets with the candidates. We welcome the dates though it was too sudden. It is one month before the term of state government expires. But we are ready to take on BJP," party's mentor Vijai Sardesai said.

Sardesai said the party is contesting on five seats on its own, while its proposal with the Congress for forging a pre-poll alliance is in discussion stage. "Congress has its own formula on decision making," he said.

Goa Suraksha Manch, the party mentored by RSS rebel leader Subhash Velingkar, said early elections will work in their favour.

"The party has been recognised by the Election Commission of India. We are already working in several constituencies. Our discussion on pre-poll alliance with MGP would also be announced in next couple of days," GSM president Anand Shirodkar said.

Published Date: Jan 04, 2017 17:22 PM | Updated Date: Jan 04, 2017 17:22 PM

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