This Article is From Mar 09, 2022

In Goa, Key Player MGP, Says "In Talks With Both Congress And BJP"

Sudhin Dhavalikar of the MGP or Maharashtra Gomantak Party told NDTV that he is "in touch" with both the BJP and Congress.

"Our alliance is 100%. We will decide who to support after the final numbers," Sudhin Dhavalikar said.

New Delhi:

Amid predictions of a hung verdict in Goa, its oldest regional party, the MGP, says it is "in touch with" both the BJP and the Congress but will decide only after discussions with ally Trinamool Congress.

Sudin Dhavalikar of the MGP or Maharashtra Gomantak Party, hopes for enough seats for his party to play kingmaker when the Goa results are declared. He told NDTV today that he is in talks with the BJP as well as Congress.  That is a marked turnaround from his previous statement, before the elections, ruling out any alliance with the BJP.

"Everything will be known by tomorrow. Since we are in an alliance, we will not be able to decide at this stage. But we are sure we will cross 10 seats," said Mr Dhavalikar, a day ahead of the counting of votes for 40-seat Goa. 

"Tomorrow at 4 PM we will decide," he asserted.

Mr Dhavalikar also said he had met with Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee, the nephew of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

"Our alliance is 100%. We will decide who to support after the final numbers," said the MGP leader.

Sources in the Trinamool Congress said Mr Dhavalikar's statement was more of a message for his own party members - that he will do the talking. 

"The MGP wants to prevent poaching of its MLAs. Dhavalikar is trying to prevent the BJP and Congress from contacting his candidates. The Trinamool-MGP alliance is intact," said Trinamool sources, rejecting the possibility of being ditched by the MGP.    

Mr Dhavalikar's nervousness about parties making direct overtures to his MLAs has a back story. In 2019, the BJP - then his ally - sacked him as Deputy Chief Minister after two of three MGP MLAs (he was the third) defected to the BJP, leaving him alone and isolated.

He was removed soon after Pramod Sawant took over as Chief Minister following the death of Manohar Parrikar in 2019.

The MGP has reportedly told the BJP that its support is contingent upon the ruling party replacing its Chief Minister. On Saturday, Mr Dhavalikar had said his party will "never support" Pramod Sawant as chief minister. 

But a day before the results, Mr Dhavalikar appeared more forgiving of the past.

"The problems with Pramod Sawant are in the past," he said today, his vacillation signalling a hard-nosed game of numbers for the seaside state.

The Trinamool has firmly refused to back the BJP, saying there is "no question of supporting" the party. 

Exit polls project a hung assembly in Goa, with 16 seats for BJP and the Congress, both below the majority mark of 21.

The surveys also show a rise in the votes of the MGP.

The BJP and Congress have started reaching out to smaller parties to make up the possible shortfall.

Pramod Sawant yesterday said the central BJP leadership is already in talks with the MGP to seek its support if his party falls short of a few numbers.

At the same time, he asserted that his party would not need any support to stay in power and that it would win enough seats.