The Nationalist Congress Party is in talks with the Congress and Trinamool Congress for an alliance in the upcoming Assembly elections in Goa, party chief Sharad Pawar said on Tuesday, reported ANI. The senior leader stressed it was important to defeat the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Goa.

Trinamool, NCP and Congress are holding discussions,” Pawar said in Mumbai, according to NDTV. “We have given our choice of seats to them. A decision will be made soon.”

The 40 Assembly constituencies in Goa will vote on February 14 and the results will be announced on March 10.

However, Pawar’s comments contradict what Congress leader Dinesh R Gundu Rao had said on Monday. Rao had ruled out any possibility of his party tying up with the Trinamool Congress.

“No alliance or talks with the Trinamool Congress is happening,” Rao had said, according to NDTV. “Despite efforts by the Trinamool, the Congress has made it clear that the whole approach and attempt of the Trinamool, right from day one, in Goa has been negative and aimed at attacking the Congress, instead of the BJP.”

Rao also accused the Trinamool Congress of poaching his party’s MLAs.

In recent months, several Congress leaders have left the party to join the Trinamool Congress as the latter seeks to expand its presence in Goa.

In December, former All India Congress Committee member Martha Saldanha had joined the Trinamool Congress. In September, veteran Congress leader and former Goa Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro had quit the Sonia Gandhi-led party and joined the Trinamool Congress.

In the last state elections in Goa in 2017, the Congress had emerged as the single largest party with 17 legislators in the Assembly. However, the BJP, which won 13 seats, forged alliances with regional outfits and Independent MLAs to form the government.

The Congress is now left with only two MLAs – Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane – in the 40-member Assembly. The BJP too has seen a few defections too in the run up to the elections. The saffron party now has 23 MLAs in the Assembly.

On Monday, Goa minister Michael Lobo had resigned from the BJP. A day before that, the party’s youth wing national executive member Gajanan Tilve joined the Congress.

On defections in Uttar Pradesh

Pawar also claimed that 13 sitting MLAs in Uttar Pradesh were going to join the Samajwadi Party. He, however, did not specify which MLAs he was referring to.

Pawar’s comments came hours after Swami Prasad Maurya, a minister in the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet, resigned from his post and joined the Samajwadi Party less than a month ahead of the Assembly elections.

Reports suggested that at least three other BJP MLAs – Brijesh Prajapati, Bhagwati Sagar and Roshan Lal Verma – have also quit the party. However, only Prajapati has officially confirmed his resignation.

“The people of Uttar Pradesh are looking for change,” said Pawar. “We will surely see the change in the state.”

The crucial 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly will go to polls in seven phases starting from February 10. The results will be announced on March 10.