The Congress party suffered a massive blow in Goa ahead of the Assembly polls due early next year when former Goa chief minister and senior Congress leader Luizinho Faleiro tendered his resignation to join All India Trinamool Congress (TMC).
Faleiro, one of the tallest leaders in Goa, is an MLA from Navelim, a Congress stronghold. To the dismay of Congress, Falerio was made the head of the coordination committee in the election panel which was formed earlier this week. He was also made the AICC in charge of North Eastern States recently.
With his resignation, Congress's strength in the 40-member House has been reduced to four.
The Congress had won 17 seats in the 2017 state Assembly elections, but later a number of MLAs resigned from the party. In July 2019, 10 MLAs quit the party and joined the ruling BJP.
Faleiro, a seven-time Congress MLA and two-time Goa Chief Minister, referred to TMC supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as a "street-fighter".
Shortly before resigning, Faleiro said the country needs a leader like Banerjee to counter Narendra Modi.
"I met certain leaders, they said yes, you are a Congressman, I am a Congressman for last 40 years, I will continue to be a Congressman and part of Congress family...," Faleiro told reporters at his private residence in Margao, about 30 km from Panaji.
"This family has to come together to fight Modi. Mamata is the one who has given a fight to Narendra Modi and his juggernaut," he said. He further said the "Mamata formula" has won in West Bengal.
"She has been able to stand up...she is a street-fighter," the 70-year-old leader said. Faleiro said Goa is also going through difficult times.
"We need such fighters who have the same wavelength, ideology, principles and programmes. The country needs a leader like Mamata," he said.
"I am a Congressman, I would like larger picture of all the Congress parties (which have split from the Congress) to come together and fight the next parliamentary election. I would do everything to achieve this dream. It is definitely my dream," he said.
Sources said Faleiro is in touch with the top TMC leadership and will make the announcement of joining the party this evening.
The TMC has announced its plans to contest the next year's Goa Assembly elections. TMC leader Derek O'Brien told PTI on Saturday in Goa that the party will be contesting the upcoming Assembly polls and they were in touch with several local leaders.
With inputs from agencies