Prasad Gaonkar, an Independent MLA from Sanguem who pledged to support AITC in October, has now pledged support to Congress. Former MLAs Lavoo Mamledar, Mohiddin Arif and other leaders too have quit AITC. In December, GPCC working president and 3-time MLA Aleixo Lourenco joined the AITC, but quit in a month.
“AITC simply parachuted into Goa. There is a subtle anger against migrants even though they contribute to the economy. AITC’s entry has evoked fears of more outsiders arriving to the state,” said an analyst, adding: “People don’t understand Goa is a small state, where they have a personal relationship with the MLA. A legislator helps from getting electricity connections to even getting a traffic challan cancelled.”
“The Congress has managed to create a sense that AITC will divide opposition votes and help BJP,” an industrialist said. Lourenco echoed this when he apologised to the people of his constituency for joining an ‘outside party to split opposition votes’.
The desertions have created doubt in the AITC leadership, prompting it to send feelers to Congress for an alliance, which the latter refused. AITC may not win more than 3 seats and the party’s best chances are in Benaulim, where Churchill Alemao is contesting, and Navelim, where his daughter Valanka is in the fray.