Panaji: The Congress Party Candidates in the Goa, has taken up the 'Loyalty Pledge.' They are pulling out all the stops to ensure that the practice of switching sides by elected representatives is a thing of the past.
Amid there are only few days left for Goa assembly elections, all the candidates visited different religious places and have taken a pledge of "loyalty" towards the people and the party.
As Congress has seen 15 out of 17 MLAs are deserting to other parties since last elections during the tenure of BJP Government. The current strength of Congress in the House is two and that of BJP is twenty seven.
In photos and videos shared on Twitter by the party on Saturday, Congress candidates from across Goa were seen visiting the Mahalaxmi Temple, Bambolim Cross and Hamza Shah Dargah.
The persists at Mahalaxmi Temple in Panaji and the Bambolim Cross in Konkani administered oaths to the candidates. In the pledge they have stated that would stay in the Congress for at least five years after winning the election. The candidates later offered a 'chaadar' at a mosque in Betim.
Senior leaders including P Chidambaram, All India Congress Committee Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee chief Girish Chodankar among others accompanied the 34 candidates to the places of worship.
"In order to build trust in the minds of people, the exercise of getting candidates swear before God was undertaken," Mr Chodankar said.
"We have tried to remove any doubts from the minds of public. Congress is very serious about the perception. Political parties are poaching our MLAs... We have to be more aggressive towards parties who are offering money and buying our MLAs," Congress Legislature Party leader Digambar Kamat said.
Since the last election, the Congress has seen most of its legislators quitting the party. The party, which had emerged as the single largest force by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House after the 2017 Assembly elections, has only two MLAs in the House. In 2019, 10 Congress legislators had joined the ruling BJP.
However, the Congress is not the only party in the state fighting to stop defections.
A recent report by the Association of Democratic Reforms said Goa has set a unique record as at least 24 legislators, which is 60 per cent of the total strength of the 40-member state Assembly, have switched parties in the last five years.