Goa has a history of hung Assemblies. On Saturday, when the state delivered a fractured mandate, it was up to the two major parties — Congress and the BJP — to garner support of the regional parties and the three Independent candidates to stake claim to form the next government.
After enough backdoor negotiations, it was the BJP that successfully cracked the electoral math. During a press conference, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and Union minister Nitin Gadkari announced that the party is ready to form the government in Goa.
After Saturday's counting, the Congress emerged as the single largest party with 17 seats, while BJP won 13 seats, eight short of the majority mark of 21. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and independent candidates won three seats each, while NCP bagged one seat.
Gadkari had said that Parrikar has the support of the BJP Parliamentary Board and party president Amit Shah. He added that though the BJP has the numbers, only after getting Governor Mridula Sinha's invitation will Parrikar resign as defence minister and take oath as the chief minister.
Parrikar, who has been given the moniker of Goa's super CM, added that the swearing-in ceremony will take place once the governor invites BJP to form government. Upon giving up the post of defence minister, he said that even though it was a new responsibility for him, he is happy that there were corruption charges levelled against the BJP government.
Definitely it was difficult as it was a new department (Def Min) but I am happy no corruption allegation levelled on our Govt: M Parrikar pic.twitter.com/jMp5qqiRMQ
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 12, 2017
Though BJP had refrained from naming Parrikar as its chief ministerial candidate before the election, one of the main reasons to bring Parrikar back at the helm of affairs was the demand put forth by the regional parties. Earlier on Sunday, reports suggested that BJP's former ally MGP would back the party if Parrikar comes back to Goa.
Sudin Dhavalikar and his brother Deepak were ministers in the BJP-led coalition government for a good part of the last five years, but were sacked by Parsekar two months before polling took place on 4 February, after the brothers criticised his leadership.
"MGP unanimously passed a resolution that it will extend support to BJP if they recall Parrikar from the Centre to the state and appoint him chief minister," MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar had told PTI after emerging from the party's legislature wing meeting.
"The resolution is very clear. MGP will support BJP only if Parrikar is made chief minister. Our support is not to BJP but to Parrikar," he said.
Goa Forward Party, which made its debut in this election, had earlier hinted to go with the Congress, but refrained from making any official announcements. The party president, Vijai Sardesai, said that his party has laid down a few conditions before getting into an alliance with the BJP and one of them was that the government should be led by Parrikar.
— ANI (@ANI_news) March 12, 2017
After caretaker chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar's humiliating defeat in Mandrem, even BJP MLAs of the Goa unit hankered for Parrikar's leadership. "We want Parrikar as chief minister of Goa. We have faxed our resolution to party president Amit Shah," BJP MLA Michael Lobo told IANS.
Parrikar, who was instrumental in orchestrating BJP's win in the 2012 Goa Assembly election, became the defence minister after Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. Though he was reluctant to give up the prized post of the Goa chief minister and shift to Delhi, he installed Parsekar as his replacement. Parsekar was seen as a weak leader not just in Goa, but also within the party, with speculations doing the rounds that Parrikar holds the remote control. Parsekar never managed to come out of Parrikar's shadows. Before the election, there were reports that Parrikar has been increasingly spending time in Goa than in Goa.
Ajay Jha wrote for Firstpost: "Parrikar as chief minister brought stability to Goa’s infamous murky politics and initiated a slew of development-oriented and people-friendly measures until his services were requisitioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clean up the Defence Ministry perennially associated with controversial defence deals. BJP realised its folly that without Parrikar it stood no chance of retaining power by the time the next election arrived."
On 4 February, when Goa went to polls, Parrikar's offhand comment: "I have lost 4 kg in Delhi because of the food. I like Goan food. You can interpret this the way you want," seemed a bit cryptic, but not anymore.
Meanwhile, the Congress which was expected to stake claim to forming the government on Sunday evening, has been unable to finalise its legislative leader, with the candidature of state unit president Luizinho Faleiro being resisted by his peers, namely former chief minister Pratapsingh Rane and Digambar Kamat.
Meanwhile, the Congress hit out. "BJP always claimed to be party of morals and character. Is this the moral or character of a party which is horse-trading...promising corporations, ministries like they are distributing sweets? We strongly condemn any effort of the BJP, particularly Parrikar, to even think of staking claim to forming government," said Digvijaya Singh.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Mar 12, 2017 09:57 pm | Updated Date: Mar 13, 2017 08:20 am