The blind ambition of senior-most Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) leader Ramakrishna Dhavalikar, popularly known as Sudin Dhavalikar, to become Goa chief minister, has landed the regional party into a political mess just months before the fast approaching assembly polls.
Sudin enjoys total support of his brother Pandurang Dhavalikar, who like him prefers his alias Deepak to go with his surname. Deepak also happens to be the MGP president.
The Dhavalikar brothers were unceremoniously dumped by the incumbent Goa chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar from his council of ministers on 12 December.
Sudin has long cherished the dream of becoming the third Goa chief minister from the MGP ranks after founders Dayanand Bandodkar and Shashikala Kakodkar, the first and second chief ministers of the coastal south-western state. The father and daughter duo together ruled Goa, Daman and Diu, as the state was known after its liberation from the colonial Portuguese rule in 1961, for close to 11 years as chief ministers. Their rule was interrupted briefly when Goa witnessed first of the five spells of President’s rule so far between December 1966 and April 1967. MGP’s grip over Goa ended in April 1979. Since then it has witnessed a constant decline in its fortunes.
MGP was part of Goa’s ruling coalition with two out of its three state lawmakers being cabinet ministers till Dhavalikar brothers were sacked. They were part of the provincial government even though its pre-poll alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had won the simple majority on its own after winning 21 out of 28 seats it contested in the 2012 assembly elections. Goa assembly consists of 40 lawmakers.
MGP had moved closest to forming the government yet again in 1994 when it emerged as the second largest party in a hung Goa assembly with 12 seats behind 18 of the Congress party.
MGP had managed supports of three independents and the Churchill Alemao-led UDGP which had also won three seats. BJP with four seats, however, was then accused of backstabbing MGP as it refused to be part of the post-poll coalition. MGP still holds the grudge against BJP which paved the way for formation of the minority Congress party government under Pratap Singh Rane. The Rane government subsequently acquired majority through one of the many political horse-trading Goa had become notorious for. In this case, four MGP lawmakers led by Dr. Wilfred Mesquita bolted away to join the Congress party, giving it the majority.
Sudin Dhavalikar, who held the meaty portfolios of public works department, transport and river navigation, had let the cat out of the bag a year ago when he revealed his ambition of becoming the next Goa chief minister.
“I have 10 years more in active politics. Is it wrong to have ambitions of becoming chief minister?” Sudin, who turned 60 in November this year, was quoted talking to local media in an interview. In the same interview, he had suggested that come what may, MGP would contest 26 seats, which obviously was not possible in the company of the big brother BJP.
For the past one year, Dhavalikars have been accused of working towards fulfilling their cherished ambition of getting Sudin’s name added to the list of a dozen politicians who have held the chief minister’s post.
They started by demanding removal of Laxmikant Parsekar as chief minister as a precondition for continuing with the alliance, being fully aware that a national party like BJP cannot be dictated by the whims of a small regional outfit. Of late they started firing barbs almost on a daily basis, leading to their ouster, which they wanted and even publicly welcomed.
However, since then MGP is finding itself caught in confusion. It has said that its alliance with BJP would continue till the model code of conduct (announcement of poll schedule by the Election Commission) comes into force, which could still be little over a month away.
MGP probably has been looking to buy some time to see how the BJP reacts. BJP, after refusing to remove its lacklustre chief minister Parsekar, has said that only two MGP ministers, who had expressed loss of faith in their chief minister, was removed while the alliance with the MGP is still on. BJP has also made it clear that MGP has to blink first and come to the negotiation table. It may amount to MGP contesting just seven or eight seats, considering BJP has set for itself the lofty target of winning 27 seats in the upcoming polls.
Realising that MGP is caught in a state of indecisiveness, Goa Suraksha Manch (GSM), a breakaway party with roots in BJP’s ideological fountainhead Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has given MGP deadline till the weekend to decide on alliance.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of former federal minister Sharad Pawar also appears to be dragging its feet after initially expressing interest in contesting Goa elections with the MGP. Former chief minister Churchill Alemao, who ruled Goa for merely 18 days in 1990, has threatened to quit NCP is it joins hands with “a communal” MGP. Alemao had joined NCP recently.
Facing political isolation of its own making, MGP may be left with little choice but to go back to the BJP with heads bowed down and putting aside Sudin’s chief ministerial dreams, or face prospects of ignominy considering its limited pockets of strength in the state now.
Updated Date: Dec 16, 2016 14:06:59 IST