It turned out to be the proverbial much ado about nothing as the newly installed Manohar Parrikar-led coalition government in Goa cleared the floor test, ordered by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
Parrikar government got support of 22 out of 40 members of the Assembly. While rebel Congress legislator Vishwajit Rane walked out of the House and did not vote, pro-tem speaker Sidharth Kuncalienkar was not required to cast his vote as per the parliamentary tradition in which the presiding officer casts vote only in case of a tie. Besides the three members each of the Goa Forward party and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) who stood by BJP leader Parrikar, all three Independent legislators and the lone Nationalist Congress Party leader Churchill Alemao also voted for the government. Alemao and Independent Prasad Gaonkar were not among those who had initially announced their support to BJP's bid to form the government following the election of a hung assembly.
The Congress party continues to make a mockery of itself after fritting away the opportunity of dislodging BJP from power after winning 17 seats and emerging as the single largest party. The faction-ridden Congress party took two days to name its legislative party leader before Chandrakant Kavlekar emerged as a compromise candidate of all four factions. By then it was too late as BJP, armed with letters of support had staked claim to form the government and procured the gubernatorial invite too. The Congress party’s bid to stall the swearing-in ceremony of Parrikar government also came to naught as the Supreme Court dismissed its petition on Tuesday while instructing the Parrikar government to prove its majority within two days.
That the Congress party lives in a dream world was reflected when its general secretary in-charge for Goa, Digvijaya Singh, claimed that the Parrikar government will enjoy power for merely two days.
The party unnecessarily questioned the appointment of BJP legislator Sidharth Kuncalienker as the pro-tem speaker, whose only job was to conduct the oath-taking ceremony of newly elected legislators and preside over the floor test. While traditionally the senior-most member of the House is named as the pro-tem speaker, Parrikar government was within its right to name Kuncalienker for the post in the absence of any such rule. Anyway, the pro-tem speaker’s role could have become crucial only in case of a tie, but as it turned out, Parrikar government received the majority vote without any hiccup.
Even as the newly elected legislators were trooping in for the crucial floor test, the Congress party leaders were engaged in a futile bid to woo GF and MGP to vote against their own government, in which all three GF and two out of three MGP legislators are Cabinet ministers. The party was totally aloof to the storm brewing up inside.
Vishwajit Rane, the MLA from Valpoi, took oath as the legislator and walked out without voting. Later, he announced his resignation from the Congress party and claimed that three other legislators too wanted to boycott the floor test but he asked them not to do so. The Rane-led rebellion may witness a vertical split in the Congress party, robbing whatever chances it may have been nurturing of dislodging the BJP from power anytime soon as those three may join hands with Rane.
Jennifer Monserrate, the lone Congress party woman legislator from Taleigao constituency, has already spoken out against the party leadership and is supposed to be the one who may walk out of the Congress party. Rane has not yet announced his future plan of action though chances of him floating a regional party or joining hands with the BJP cannot be ruled out.
Rane junior, while claiming he would return to the assembly with increased votes, charged Singh of behaving like just yet another tourist in Goa. Singh is being seen as the villain in the story since instead of trying to bring all factions together, he seems to have created more frictions within the party.
While the Congress party continues to cry hoarse accusing BJP of indulging in horse-trading and spending crores of rupees to win the support of the two regional parties and three Independents, they claim that they decided to join hands with the BJP in Goa’s interest as Parrikar was capable of getting more central grants for the state’s speedy development.
Given Goa’s history of unpredictable behaviour of politician, it would be a real challenge for Parrikar to carry on the coalition for the entire five-year tenure. But for the time being, Congress party will have to sit in the Opposition fretting over the lost opportunity.
Soon after passing the floor test, Chief Minister Parrikar said that the first meeting of his Cabinet would take place on Friday and that all partners in power would soon work out the common minimum programme that would guide his government. Allocation of portfolios would be finalised on Friday and officially announced on Saturday since Goa Governor Mridula Sinha is scheduled to be out of Goa on Friday.
Updated Date: Mar 16, 2017 16:23 PM