The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led alliance and the Indian National Congress in Goa got into separate huddle in the past 12 hours after the demise of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Parrikar (63) passed away on March 17 at his residence after battling pancreatic cancer for over a year.In a huddle
Union Minister and senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari arrived in Panaji in the early hours of March 18. However, he could not secure consensus
between the saffron party and its alliance partners in the state.
BJP MLA Michael Lobo told PTI that Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLA Sudin Dhavalikar wanted to be Chief Minister due to which discussions came to a halt. MGP is a BJP ally.
Lobo said BJP MLAs have suggested the names of Vishwajit Rane and Pramod Sawant for the state’s top post.
Earlier, Goa Forward Party (GFP) chief Vijai Sardesai, emerging from the meeting, had said the parties were yet to reach a conclusion.How the numbers stack up
With the demise of Parrikar, the strength of 40-member Goa Legislative Assembly has been reduced to 36. Earlier, three seats were vacant. BJP MLA Francis D'Souza had died last month, while two Congress MLAs had resigned last year.
The Election Commission of India (EC), while announcing the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections on March 10, had also announced by-election dates for the three vacant seats.
The bypolls in Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa will be held on April 23, along with the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress currently has 14 MLAs. The BJP has 12 members. BJP’s allies MGP and the GFP have three MLAs each. There are three independent MLAs who also support the BJP government. There is one Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA too.
With the strength of the House at 36, a party would require support of 19 MLAs to form or maintain a government.
However, BJP’s strength is effectively under 12 as one of its MLAs, Pandurang Madkaikar, is in hospital and is unlikely to be able to cast his vote in the state Assembly if a floor test is to take place.
BJP’s Pramad Sawant, who is the Speaker, only has a casting vote.
Most of BJP’s allies have been clear that they would only support a government led by Parrikar. This is why Parrikar had stepped down as Defence Minister and returned to Goa in early 2017 following the Assembly election in Goa.All eyes on Raj Bhavan
"With chief minister Parrikar's demise, the ruling coalition will have to make a fresh representation to the governor after choosing their leader. The representation will have a letter of support," a senior official from State Legislature Department told PTI. "If the governor (Mridula Sinha) is not convinced, then she will have to invite the single largest party to form government," he said.Congress’ push
Political observers suggest that some of the BJP allies could be disgruntled if their demands are not met by the saffron party. Congress would be in a position to form the government even if one of the smaller parties were to switch sides. Sensing an opportunity, the Congress also went into a huddle overnight.
On March 16, a day before Parrikar’s demise, the Congress had written to Governor Mridula Sinha, staking claim to form the government in the state. The Congress had also sought the BJP-led government’s dismissal.
The leader of the Congress-led opposition in Goa, Chandrakant Kavlekar, said in a letter to the Governor that the people of Goa have lost their trust in the ruling party following the death of MLA Francis D’Souza, and that they have also lost strength in the House.Manohar Parrikar will be accorded a state funeral today. Catch the latest updates here