Manohar Parrikar, who quit as Defence Minister, was sworn in as chief minister of Goa on Tuesday to head a coalition government of local allies and Independents, three days after the BJP ended up second behind the Congress in a fractured mandate. The Congress, on Tuesday morning, suffered a setback in the Supreme Court which refused to stay 61-year-old Parrikar's swearing-in ceremony as sought by the party.
According to the directions of the apex court, Parrikar, who claimed to have support of 21 MLAs including 13 of the BJP, will have to prove majority on the floor of the assembly on March 16. The decks for his swearing-in were cleared after a bench headed by Chief Justice J S Khehar refused to grant the stay on the Congress' plea and ordered a floor test.
The bench directed that the assembly session be called at 11 am on 16 March exclusively for holding of the floor test after swearing-in of the members. Parrikar returned to Goa as the chief minister for the fourth time, though he could not complete full terms in his earlier stints. He had formally staked claim to form the coalition government on Sunday, following which he got an invite from Governor Mridula Sinha to prove majority in House.
At a function held at the Raj Bhavan, the governor administered the oath of office and secrecy to Parrikar along with nine MLAs including two members of the BJP, three of the Goa Forward Party, two of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and as many Independents. They will be allotted ministerial portfolios after the floor test. Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his best wishes to Parrikar on becoming the chief minister of Goa and hoped that he will take the state to new heights of progress.
Addressing reporters later, Parrikar exuded confidence that his government will last its full term. "I would prove majority on the floor of the House on Thursday only after which the portfolios would be distributed to the ministers who are inducted in the cabinet. The day after tomorrow, the procedure of proving majority on the floor of the House would be completed," he said.
Parrikar said the regional parties have taken the lead to form this government and have requested him to head the dispensation by resigning as defence minister. "My priority would be to retain speciality of Goa that is Goanness. The statement about the common minimum programme (CMP) would be issued within a month," he said. The BJP leader, who is an IIT-Bombay alumnus, said they have the support of 22 MLAs in total.
"There was a speculation for last two days whether BJP really got the majority required to form the government and here we are, we have 22 legislators with us," he said. Among the allies who took oath along with Parrikar are Ramakrishna alias Sudin Dhavalikar and Manohar Asgaonkar (both MGP), Vijai Sardesai, Jayesh Salgaoncar and Vinod Palyekar (all GFP), and Independents Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gawade.
The two BJP MLAs who were sworn in are outgoing deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar. BJP president Amit Shah along with Union ministers Venkaiah Naidu and Nitin Gadkari were present at the ceremony. Parrikar, who had served as the chief minister between 2000-2002, 2002-2005 and 2012-2014, said he would discuss the allocation of portfolios with his colleagues.
"Though the mandate was fractured, all the alliance partners have come together to take the number to 22 in the Assembly. "I agree that the mandate is fractured. But if every fraction of fractured mandate comes together we become 22. The lead for (effecting) the post-poll coalition was taken by the regional parties and not me," he said replying to a query.
Parrikar said the Independent candidates and the local parties, who have extended support to the BJP-led government, had set a pre-condition that "Prime Minister Narendra Modi should relieve me as Defence Minister and send me back to Goa as CM." He said the BJP's alliance partners have taken this decision in the larger interest of Goa.
"Their support is only for the sake of Goa's development and state's speciality which is called as 'goenkarponn' (Goanness). I am very thankful to them for the support," he said.
On the Congress approaching the Supreme Court saying they had the first right to form government by virtue of being the largest party, Parrikar said, "the court had specifically told them (Congress) to go to governor if they have majority with them. No one has stopped them (Congress) from approaching Governor with the majority support."
Parrikar's anointment came amid an intense tug-of-war between the BJP and the Congress, which has questioned the legitimacy of the saffron party's bid to power given it has failed to secure the popular mandate.
Earlier in the day, the Congress alleged the governor did not invite it to form government in the coastal state despite the party giving her a letter on Sunday seeking appointment to stake the claim.
"We wanted to stake the claim on March 12 itself. We had given her the letter on that day itself but still she (Governor) did not give us an appointment," AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh told reporters here, after chairing a meeting of the Goa Congress Legislature Party.
Meanwhile, a day after submitting a representation to the governor asking her to invite the party to form government, the Goa Congress today called on the governor with all its newly-elected 17 MLAs to seek an opportunity to prove majority in the assembly, but could not get any assurance from her.
The MLAs led by Congress Legislature Party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar held talks with the governor at Raj Bhavan for about half-an-hour arguing that being the single largest party, the Congress should have been called first to form the government.
"We requested the governor that the Congress be given an opportunity to form the government. Allowing Parrikar to be sworn in is against the Constitution. We have majority on our side," Goa Congress Chief Luizinho Faleiro told reporters outside Raj Bhavan. "The governor told us that she would take a decision as per her wisdom," he said.
With inputs from agencies
Published Date: Mar 16, 2017 12:52 pm | Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 06:34 pm