Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar has finally managed to buy peace with his Bharatiya Janata Party’s newly elected state lawmakers, paving the way for expansion of his cabinet. The biggest question that will continue to haunt him is whether this will be long-lasting or fragile given Goa’s political unpredictability.
Parrikar had a lengthy meeting with all 13 BJP lawmakers on Monday and is understood to have managed to convince them to set aside their ministerial ambitions in the larger interest of the party, to which they agreed, albeit reluctantly. Consequently, Parrikar is now expected to fill up the remaining two berths in his council of ministers any time before BJP president Amit Shah’s 9 April rally in the state capital Panaji.
While rebel Congress legislator Vishwajit Rane is certain to be inducted as a cabinet minister with a key portfolio, BJP’s Dabolim MLA Mauvin Godinho is expected to be the other new face of the Parrikar government.
Rane had resigned as an MLA just before 16 March floor test ordered by the Supreme Court to prove majority of the BJP-led coalition government. He later quit the Congress party that day.
Rane is expected to formally join BJP before his induction as a minister Goa CM Manohar Parrikar walks a tightrope as MLAs loyalty is not a guarantee and contest the by-election caused by his resignation from his traditional Valpoi constituency on BJP symbol.
After the cabinet expansion, BJP can claim to have five ministers in the 12-member Parrikar government, but fact remains that three of them were gracing opposition benches in the previous Assembly.
Godinho and the incumbent power minister Pandurang Madkaikar had quit Congress party and joined BJP after Goa poll schedule was announced in January. They did not disappoint their new party by winning their Dabolim and Cumbharjua seats for the BJP, enabling BJP to save its face after Goa poll drubbing with the Congress party winning 17 in the 40-member hung Assembly that Goa elected in the 4 February polling.
Congress party, still smarting under its failure to stake claim to form the government, was eyeing Godinho and Madkaikar for possible return to the parent party.
Parrikar’s logic is that power is the glue that will prevent any of the turncoats and post-poll allies from joining hands with the Congress party on a future date and topple his government. He had used the same logic when he inducted all three lawmakers of the Goa Forward Party and two each from among three MLAs of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and independents as cabinet ministers. This means that Parrikar and urban development minister Francis D’Souza are the only two old BJP leaders in the Parrikar government.
Claims of some genuine claimants to become ministers were ignored. One of them was Calangute MLA Michael Lobo who played a key role in getting Goa Forward join hands with the BJP. Lobo was compensated later with his appointment as the deputy speaker of the newly elected Goa assembly. Now Parrikar will have to find some post for BJP lawmaker from Curchorem constituency, Nilesh Cabral, another minister aspirant from BJP’s ranks.
Parrikar government may appear safe for the time being but he knows keeping his folks together for its entire five years’ tenure would be both demanding and daunting.
Congress party, while lying low at the moment, is focussing on winning Valpoi and Panaji seats to increase its tally to 18. BJP’s Panaji MLA Sidharth Kuncalienkar is expected to vacate Panaji seat for his mentor Parrikar, possibly after Presidential election due early in July. BJP does not want to take any risks in its bid to ensure a BJP leader becomes the President of India for the first time ever. Every vote may matter in that. That is the reason Parrikar and his Uttar Pradesh counterpart Yogi Adityanath have not resigned as Members of Parliament yet. Parrikar has time till 13 September to get himself elected to the Goa Assembly under the existing rules that allows a non-member to remain a minister for maximum six months.
Congress party is living with the hope that it may retain Valpoi seat and snatch Panaji seat from BJP, despite the fact that it did not contest Panaji seat in February polls. The party decided to extend support to the UGP leader Atanasio Monserrate in Panaji. Monserrate lost the seat by 1,069 votes. Congress party is already in touch with him and wooing him to join the party. Monserrate’s wife Jennifer Monserrate won the neighbouring Taleigao seat as a Congress party nominee.
Twin victories, if it happens, would increase the party’s tally to 18 and then it may try playing the game it played in Jharkhand when it propped up independent MLA Madhu Khoda as the chief minister in 2006. Goa in the past has seen a spate of defections.
Independents are always easy target and promising chief ministerial post to either the Goa Forward leader Vijai Sardesai or independent Rohan Khaunte, Town & Country Planning and Revenue ministers respectively in the Parrikar government may result into downfall of the Parrikar government.
Will the Congress party succeed or Parrikar yet again proves one-up on them will be worth watching in the land famous for ‘anything is possible’ kind of politics that Goa is.
Updated Date: Apr 04, 2017 18:43 PM