A year ago I was begging people to join party: Goa Congress chief

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Panaji, Aug 17 (IANS) State Congress President Luizinho Faleiro on Wednesday said that a year and a half ago, after taking charge of the Goa unit, he was going around “like a beggar” asking people to join the party, but today it is vibrant right from the block level.

Addressing a press conference at the Congress state headquarters here, Faleiro dismissed the demand by a party legislator that Leader of Opposition and former Chief Minister Pratapsingh Rane should be the party’s Chief Minister candidate for the 2017 state assembly elections.

“One and a half years ago, I was moving like a beggar asking people to join the party,” which had been routed in the last assembly elections, Faleiro said.

“When I formed the blocks (Congress’ constituency level units), when I empowered blocks, now there is no question of going with a begging bowl. Today we are getting 10 candidates from every block. That shows vibrancy of the party,” said Faleiro, a former member of the Congress Working Committee.

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The Congress, which ruled the state for most of the last two decades, was reduced to an unprecedented single digit tally — nine lawmakers — in the 40-member Goa legislative assembly in the 2012 assembly polls, in which a BJP-led coalition romped to power.

The Congress since then has been witnessing constant infighting in its legislative party wing, resulting in the expulsion of St. Cruz legislator Atanasio Monserrate.

Faleiro’s leadership has also been challenged by Rane’s son Vishwajeet, a Congress legislator from Valpoi assembly constituency, who wants his father to be propped up as the Chief Minister candidate for the upcoming polls.

Faleiro, however, said that the party will not give in to such pressurising tactics.

“In Congress party there is a democracy and I have worked not only in Goa, but at the national level too. The CLP (Congress legislative party) leader is decided after the assembly elections. After elections, a meeting of MLAs, attended by one observer and one in-charge, decides the candidate,” Faleiro said.

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