PANAJI: Countdown began for Assembly elections on Saturday in Goa where new entrant TMC and AAP among others will be taking on the ruling BJP.
The Election Commission of India (ECI) earlier in the day announced that election to all 40 Assembly constituencies in the coastal state would be held on February 14.
With the announcement, the model code of conduct came into force.
The state has 11 lakh-odd eligible voters.
The BJP, Congress, Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), AAP, Trinamool Congress Party (TMC), and NCP are the main political parties in the fray.
Local outfit Revolutionary Goans is also expected to make impact with its sizable following.
But it is the entry of the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC which has roiled politics in the BJP-ruled state for the past one year.
Another challenger to the BJP is the Aam Aadmi Party.
Political strategist Prashant Kishor pushed the TMC to focus on Goa after its resounding victory in West Bengal last year.
The party has announced pre-poll alliance with the MGP, one of the oldest surviving political parties of Goa.
The GFP and Congress have also announced pre-poll alliance, while Nationalist Congress Party is still searching for allies.
The BJP, notably, will face the polls without any pre-poll alliance.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday told reporters that the saffron party was confident of winning the election based on its performance and popularity.
The saffron party would, however, miss Manohar Parrikar, who died in March 2019.
Parrikar had played a crucial role in consolidating BJP's power in Goa.
During 2017 election, Congress had emerged as the single largest party winning 17 seats, but the BJP trumped it by cobbling together a coalition with smaller parties.
By the end of 2021, Congress was left with only two MLAs after it faced a barrage of resignations besides en-masse defection of ten MLAs to the BJP.
Two of its MLAs joined the TMC.
BJP which had won 13 seats in 2017 polls currently has 27 MLAs.
Goa Forward Party which had won three seats is left with two MLAs while MGP, which too had won three seats has only one legislator left.
The Trinamool Congress Party's Goa desk in-charge Mahua Moitra on Saturday said that the party will do "whatever necessary" to ensure that BJP does not form the next government in the coastal state and added that even the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is part of the anti-BJP space, an assertion viewed as a strategy by the Mamata Banerjee-led party to project itself as the anti-BJP pivot.
Elections are due in Goa next month.
Addressing a press conference in Panaji, Moitra also said that "no ego is involved in doing anything" (to ensure BJP's defeat).
"The TMC wants to defeat BJP and will do whatever necessary. We want to ensure that BJP does not win or form a government through the backdoor," Moitra said when asked about a possible pre-poll alliance with the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Congress.
The day before Moitra had tweeted that the TMC will do "everything possible to defeat BJP" and tagged GFP and Congress.
Moitra, however, didn't include the name of the Aam Aadmi Party in that tweet.
On Saturday, she said, "The AAP is also part of the anti-BJP space. I may not have added them in the tweet."
"We are also including them," she said, adding that "nothing is impossible in politics."
Notably, the AAP leadership had asserted in the past that the Arvind Kejriwal-led party won't tie up with the TMC for Goa polls.
Stating that no discussion is held yet on pre-poll alliances, Moitra said, "this is a general view that we (TMC) are putting forward the people of Goa."
Without naming Congress, Moitra said it was wrong to term TMC a "B team "of BJP which wants to divide votes in Goa and give extra mileage to BJP.
"It is wrong to say that BJP will manage to win because of the TMC," she said.
The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) had announced it would contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in an alliance with the TMC, the new entrant in Goa politics.
The Congress and the Goa Forward Party had also sealed a pre-poll alliance.
After the Assembly polls in 2017, the GFP, which had won three seats, extended support for the formation of the BJP-led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar.
But after Parrikar''s death in 2019, the alliance turned sour and resulted in the Sardesai-led party withdrawing its support.
In that election, the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in Goa by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House, but could not come to power as the BJP, which bagged 13, allied with some independents and regional parties to form the government.