After much delay, the Congress party on Wednesday finally announced that it will contest on party lines the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) elections which will be held on March 22, 2020.
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar said that the decision has been taken in consultation with the party MLAs who remained absent during Wednesday’s crucial executive committee meeting of the party.
“There is no difference, they (MLAs) only had some concerns in the interest of the party which has been fully addressed and they have also given their valuable suggestions,” the Congress president said.
On February 20, Congress legislature party leader Digambar Kamat had said that the legislature wing of the party had decided not to contest the election on party lines. The decision had disappointed the North Goa district committee and other frontal organisations of the Congress.
Chodankar said that the Congress has plans to contest about 40 ZP segments.
When asked by when the Congress will come out with the list of candidates for the ZP polls, Chodankar said, “The block presidents have been told to shortlist the candidates by tomorrow 5 pm and they will forward the names to both district committees. Both the district committees will hold their meeting on Friday morning and by evening they will hand over the list or the report to our taluka conveners, the taluka conveners will further do the screening and thereafter the Pradesh Election Committee for the ZP election will take a final call.”
Chodankar alleged that the State Election Commission could not provide them with the electoral roll as the BJP-led government has ‘deliberately delayed the process of elections’.
He said that it was important to have ‘demographic study’ with the help of electoral rolls before finalising the candidates.
“The declaration of the candidates is subject to the availability of the electoral roll. We were told by the SEC that the electoral roll is not available in their office and they asked us to come back in the next two days. We are going to send a written request to the SEC to provide us with electoral roll by Thursday 11 am,” Chodankar said.
Chodankar clearly ruled out aligning with the Goa Forward Party and Independent MLA from Porvorim Rohan Khaunte. He, however, indicated that Congress would tie-up with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to fight the election in Veling-Priol, Shiroda and Sanvordem ZP constituencies.
“If they (Goa Forward Party) feel then they should back the Congress candidate in Siolim, Saligao; we have strong presence in these constituencies. We are also strong in Porvorim,” he said.
“There is a feeling among the party workers and the block presidents from Priol, Shiroda and Sanvordem that where we are little weak and don’t have strong candidates we have to discuss on supporting certain individuals,” he added.
Meanwhile, sitting ZP member of Aldona constituency Gokuldas Halarnkar with his wife Rubi, who is a panch member of Pomburpa-Olaulim village panchayat, along with their supporters joined the Congress party.