The man who conjured up a patchwork alliance of diverse political outfits after the 2017 assembly polls in Goa is ill, and BJP is wondering what to do.
Mumbai: The BJP-led government in Goa is facing uncertainty, with the possibility of chief minister Manohar Parrikar temporarily stepping down due to medical reasons.
Parrikar, who has been in and out of Goa for medical treatment for a pancreatic ailment since the beginning of this year, was admitted to AIIMS in Delhi Saturday. Sources in Goa said the CM has conveyed his inability to work normally to the central BJP leadership, which is now exploring options to keep the Goa government afloat. BJP’s central observers are also likely to visit Goa this weekend and meet alliance partners.
There is an over-reliance on Parrikar, the man who conjured up an alliance of diverse political outfits after the assembly polls in 2017 and staked claim to form a government in Goa, despite the Congress winning the highest number of seats.
But if Parrikar is out of the equation, the coalition faces the threat of crumbling. There is no deputy or caretaker CM. Even in his delicate medical condition, the CM until now has been expected to clear files, hold meetings and even remotely run the state through email and teleconference, each time he has been out of Goa for medical treatment.
BJP’s Goa president Vinay Tendulkar has insisted so far that Parrikar is recovering well and there is no immediate threat to the government.
“I met him yesterday. His medical reports are optimistic. He just has some problems related to digestion. So far, we have not heard about any requirement for a temporary change of guard in Goa,” Tendulkar told ThePrint.
“Since the CM is in Delhi, the leadership will discuss any such need directly with him. If required, we will reach out to the BJP president on this matter,” he said.
But the BJP’s alliance partners have put the party on notice, urging its leadership to find a solution to what is now beginning to look like a crisis.
Alliance partners uneasy
Deepak Dhavalikar, president of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), a BJP ally with three legislators in the 40-member House, said, “So far, we have been able to somehow keep the situation together because Goa is a small state.”
“Parrikar, despite his health, was actively governing. But he has left for Delhi this morning and admitted to AIIMS. The BJP central leadership will now have to take a call this week. Something they have to decide,” he added.
There are also talks of the possibility of MGP’s Sudin Dhavalikar, a minister in the Parrikar government, being given charge of deputy chief minister to salvage the situation. However, the Goa Forward Party (GFP), another alliance partner of the BJP, may not be agreeable to the suggestion.
Govind Gaude, an independent MLA in the Parrikar cabinet, said, “We expect the central observers of the BJP to come to Goa this week, today or Monday and take a decision. Parrikar’s ailment is serious and it’s not possible to go on like this.”
“The BJP central leadership has to take a decision now. The state cannot continue to be on a ventilator forever,” Gaude added.
He added, independents and members of the MGP and GFP supported the BJP-led government not because of the party, but because of Parrikar, and the BJP now owes it to them to come up with alternatives.
“Now the BJP has to come up with other options, suggestions and then we as alliance partners will consider those,” Gaude said.
Vijai Sardesai, a GFP minister in the Goa government, agreed that the arrangement with BJP hinges on Parrikar being CM, but said it is too early to speculate.
“The CM may have communicated something to the BJP leadership to step down, but as of now the CM’s post is not vacant. So there is no point in speculating. We will see what happens next and then react,” Sardesai said.
Parrikar was first admitted to Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital on 15 February and later moved to the United States for treatment. The coastal state of Goa was trudging along without an active chief minister for nearly three months, with a cabinet advisory committee comprising BJP minister Francis D’Souza, MGP’s Sudin Dhavalikar and Goa Forward Party’s Vijai Sardesai in charge of governance in Parrikar’s absence.
The CM returned in the last week of June and went again for a follow-up to the US last month. Earlier this week, he was admitted to a hospital in Candolim in North Goa.
Parrikar Friday evening met Gaude and Rohan Khaunte, the two independent ministers in his cabinet, and Dhavalikar and Sardesai, ministers representing the BJP’s two alliance partners, in the Candolim hospital. He also met a few BJP leaders, including Sripad Naik, a union minister.
Will wait and watch, says Congress
Goa Congress president Girish Chodankar said the party will wait and watch how the BJP plans to address the situation, now that the CM is out for medical treatment in Delhi and members of the coalition are getting restless.
Chodankar said, “We have been demanding that the government has a full-time chief minister for a long time. As of now, we are not officially taking any action. We will see what the BJP does.”
Party members met Goa governor Mridula Sinha earlier this month seeking her intervention in the “collapse of the state administration”. Chodankar said the party has still not received a response from the governor’s office.