Luizinho Faleiro, the former Chief Minister of Goa who quit the Congress and joined the Trinamool Congress this week, told NDTV on Thursday that it was political strategist Prashant Kishor and his group I-PAC who approached him to switch to Mamata Banerjee's party.
"Of course, he had approached me. Just a few days back," he said when asked if Mr Kishor had reached out to him to join the party that the strategist helped win an exceptionally difficult election against the BJP in Bengal in May.
"He didn't tell me to join the TMC but he did an analysis. People in Goa are angry with BJP. Mining has stopped. The economy is in a meltdown. There are no jobs. Goa is looking for an alternative. Didi is the only force. Despite the pressure, they abused her, used government agencies. The country needs a leader like Didi," he said.
Speaking at a press conference earlier in the day, Mr Faleiro had said, "Believe it or not I never met them (Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee). They are great leaders. They are not great leaders of Trinamool but great national leaders. But I did not meet them. I met I-PAC, I met Mr Prashant Kishor of I-PAC (Indian Political Action Committee). I met him. Just before I took the decision, we had the interaction."
"It was a very, very difficult decision for me to leave Congress party. But finally, in the interest of Goa and in the interest of the country, to defeat the BJP, this is the only way for me to go forward and even now I am looking forward to help from I-PAC members. They are not from Bengal but different parts of the country," he said.
Mr Faleiro's revelation raises questions of conflict of interest over Mr Kishor's political role. Until recently, he is believed to have been engaged in talks with the Congress to revive its fortunes ahead of the next Lok sabha elections, but if Mr Faleiro is to be believed, Mr Kishor is also approaching Congress leaders to cross over to the Trinamool, with whom his group I-PAC, continues to work with.
Spurred, in part, by these high-profile crossovers from the Congress to the Trinamool, the past few weeks has seen a sharp rise in rhetoric between the two parties, with Mamata Banerjee's nephew Abhishek Banerjee saying "The Congress has to leave its armchair politics and social media politics and hit the streets" and that it "does not work, does not hit the street and loves to remain in the comfort of their homes".
A day after joining the Trinamool, Mr Faleiro said the party plans to contest all 40 seats in the next year's Goa Assembly polls on its own, without forging any alliance.
The former Goa Chief Minister also said Mamata Banerjee will visit the state once the ongoing 15-day ''pitru paksh'' period, which is considered inauspicious for launching new projects, gets over.
Mr Faleiro joined the Trinamool on Wednesday in Kolkata along with nine other leaders.
He addressed the news conference in Panaji in the presence of senior Trinamool leaders, including Derek O'Brien, Sukhendu Sekhar Roy, Prasun Banerjee and Manoj Tiwary.
"The party is scouting for fresh faces for the upcoming election in Goa... As far as the Trinamool is concerned, we would like to give 40 clean new faces," he said to a query on whether the party would consider those MLAs, who have defected from one party to another.
When asked if the Trinamool plans to forge an alliance, he said, "We are going to go all alone."
It is possible for the Trinamool to win the upcoming elections in Goa although the time left for the polls was very short, he added.
The elections are due in February.
Mr Faleiro slammed the Congress saying that the party never wanted to form a government in Goa and therefore it did not stake a claim for it despite emerging as the single largest party after the 2017 elections.
He said that I-PAC has been conducting a survey in Goa, the results of which would be available in the next 10-15 days, after which the detailed roadmap for elections in Goa would be prepared.
He said the Trinamool would release a "charge sheet" against the BJP government in Goa, which would expose its "misdeeds".
In the last Assembly polls, the Congress had won the highest number of 17 seats, restricting the BJP to 13 seats. However, surprising the Congress, the BJP allied with regional parties and formed the government under the leadership of senior leader Manohar Parrikar.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already thrown its hat in the ring ahead of the polls, with the party's national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announcing free power up to 300 units per month and 80 per cent jobs for locals if his party is voted to power during his recent visit to Panaji.