by Elton Gomes
The Bhartiya Janata Party’s (BJP) desperate attempts to find a replacement for ailing chief minister Manohar Parrikar suffered a huge setback on Wednesday, after a meeting of top officials including BJP chief Amit Shah failed to find a solution.
Apart from Shah, the meeting was attended by state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar and Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik – both of whom are primary contenders to become Chief Minister. South Goa MP Narendra Savoikar was also in attendance.
“Our party President is seized of the matter, but no decision has been made on the leadership issue yet,” a BJP leader told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
Sources claimed that a demand made by regional political party, Goa Forward, to appoint a non-legislator did not go bode well with Parrikar, who was also consulted during the meet.
Amit Shah steps in
On Tuesday, media reports mentioned that BJP chief Amit Shah will be stepping in to resolve the BJP’s political conundrum in Goa. Shah called up state minister and Goa Forward Party (GFP) leader Vijay Sardesai on Sunday and informed him that the BJP was sending a team of observers to the state to take stock of the situation.
The BJP however is confident that there will be no large change in Goa and that Parrikar was doing fine. The 62-year-old chief minister has been suffering from a pancreatic ailment, and is currently undergoing treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi.
Congress stakes claim to form government in Goa
On September 17, the opposition Congress staked claim to form a government in Goa. The Congress demanded the dismissal of the ruling alliance led by the BJP.
In a letter to the governor, Chandrakant Kavlekar, the Congress legislature party chief, said that Parrikar was “unable to function and governance has come to a standstill”. The Congress demanded to form a new government even as the BJP sent three leaders to review the political situation and remained confident that there was no threat to its government.
“We submitted two memorandums (to the governor’s office) and requested that (the) situation to undergo election within 18 months shouldn’t arise… If the current government is not capable to function, we should be given the chance,” Kavlekar said, Hindustan Times reported.
Congress MLAs meet governor, seek floor test
A day later, on September 18, a total of 14 Congress MLAs met governor Mridula Sinha and requested her to call for a special assembly session for a floor test by the BJP-led government. Led by Kavlekar, the Congress legislators demanded that the governor should summon a one-day session of the assembly for a floor test.
Kavlekar told news agency PTI that the governor has assured them that she would give her reply within the next three to four days. “Let the state government prove on the floor that they have majority or else we can show that we have more legislators than them,” Kavlekar told the media after the meeting, India Today reported.
Scrambling for Goa
Political experts opine that Goa might turn out to be a thorn for the BJP as the saffron party does not have a powerful rung of second-line leaders to step in. Amit Shah’s intervention was slated to be crucial, but the meeting remained inconclusive. In addition to Parrikar, other ministers have also been unwell – Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza is seeking treatment in New York, and Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar suffered a brain stroke a few months back. In the absence of second-line leaders, the BJP certainly has a crisis on its hands in Goa.
The political crisis could worsen as the six lawmakers supporting the BJP have emerged as a front that could decide the future of the ruling coalition. In the 40-member Goa assembly, the Congress is the largest party having a total of 16 seats while the BJP has 14.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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