Hit hard by defections in the last five years, the Congress in Goa on Friday made its candidates sign affidavits and take an oath of loyalty to the party in the presence of its senior leader Rahul Gandhi, days ahead of the state Assembly polls. Elections to all 40 Assembly seats in Goa will be held on February 14 and the results will be declared on March 10. The Congress has tied up with the Goa Forward Party (GFP) for the polls. While the grand old party has fielded 37 candidates, the GFP is contesting on three seats.
GFP candidates, who also signed affidavits stating that they will not quit the party if they get elected, were also present at the programme. Gandhi arrived in the poll-bound state on Friday morning, after which he participated in the door-to-door campaign in Mormugao Assembly constituency. He is scheduled to address a public meeting at Sankhalim later in the day. Led by leader of opposition Digambar Kamat, who is among the two MLAs of the party left in the Assembly, the candidates read out the affidavit which promises that they will not resign from the party or switch over to any other political outfit in the next five years. AICC general secretary K C Venugopal, party’s Goa election in-charge P Chidambaram, its state desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao and Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) president Girish Chodankar were present when the candidates took the pledge.
In the last five years, the Congress was hit the hardest by defections in the BJP-ruled coastal state as most of its legislators quit the party. In 2019, as many as 10 Congress legislators had joined the BJP. The ruling party’s current strength in the Assembly stands at 27. The grand old party, which had emerged as the single largest force by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House after the 2017 Assembly elections, now has only two MLAs in the House.