Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar has claimed his party was in touch with five MLAs of the ruling coalition and would form government in the state after the upcoming assembly by-polls in two seats -- Shiroda and Mandrem.
He said his party was in touch with five MLAs from the Manohar Parrikar-led coalition, whose support the Congress will take to form government once they pull out of the ruling dispensation.
Although dates for the by-election to three assembly seats have not been announced so far, they are likely to be held in the next couple of months.
"We have in our mind the five MLAs who would be with us to form the government after the upcoming by-polls," Chodankar said.
"In order to form the new government, the Congress would take support of these legislators once they withdraw from the current coalition government," he added.
In May 2018, the party had staked claim citing the example of Karnataka where the largest party BJP was invited to form the government after the Assembly polls threw up a fractured verdict.
The Congress had said that it had not been invited to form the government in Goa after the February 2017 Assembly polls despite it emerging as the single largest party.
In September again, it had submitted a memorandum to Governor Dr Mrs Mridula Sinha, staking claim to form an alternative government. The move had come amid Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's hospitalisation due to his pancreatic ailment.
Congress had also moved no confidence motion against Speaker of Legislative Assembly Pramod Sawant which was quashed on technical grounds.
The by-elections to Shiroda and Mandrem assembly constituencies have been necessitated after two Congress MLAs -- Subhash Shirodkar (Shiroda) and Dayanand Sopte (Mandrem) -- resigned last year to join the BJP.
When asked to name the MLAs who were likely to join hands with the Congress, Chodankar said, "Those people who have trusted us, we can't sell them off. You will come to know who are in touch with us."
Chodankar's statement comes against the backdrop of the BJP ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) deciding to contest by-election against the official candidates in both the assembly constituencies. MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar had also showered praises on Congress leader Digambar Kamat while indirectly criticising his ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) during a function in Margao town recently.
"What MGP speaks is not in favour of anyone, but they speak the truth," Chodankar said.
When asked whether the Congress will go with the MGP to form the next government, he said, "Till they are with the BJP, doors are closed. Once they withdraw the support, we will consider taking them.”
The Congress leader also appealed to like-minded parties to join hands for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to form a "mahagathbandhan" (grand alliance) in the state.
"Whoever feels that the Modi government has to go, I appeal to them that they should come with us. We are ready for 'mahagathbandhan' in Goa," he said.
"If people want, we will go for 'mahagathbandhan'. Those who are against the Modi and Parrikar governments and those who feel that the country and Goa are in danger, they should come together," Chodankar said.
He expressed confidence that even if the Congress goes solo, it would win both the parliamentary seats in the state.
"People's mood is to get Congress candidates elected on both the seats of the Lok Sabha. But despite this we are not arrogant, we are not over-confident," he commented.
"We appeal to parties like AAP, which is against the government, to come with us. I have already spoken to a few of their leaders...requested them to be with us," he added.
The two Lok Sabha constituencies in Goa are currently represented by the BJP.