New Delhi: There are at least nine claimants for the post of chief minister in the Goa assembly in the wake of incumbent Manohar Parrikar’s death Sunday.
With the strength of the 40-member assembly down to 36 following the demise of two MLAs — Parrikar and Francis D’Souza of the BJP — and two defections from the Congress, these nine aspirants account for 25 per cent of the state’s total legislators.
Union minister Nitin Gadkari, who reached Goa Sunday evening to cobble together a majority in the fractured Goa assembly, has to choose a consensus candidate from at least four chief ministerial aspirants — Speaker Pramod Sawant and Vishwajit Rane of the BJP, Ramkrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), and Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party (GFP).
The MGP and the GFP, which have three legislators each, are allies of the BJP, but they joined hands with the latter in 2017 on the condition that Parrikar would be the chosen leader. In light of Parrikar’s death, the BJP is said to struggling to build a consensus on one leader.
The Congress has at least four former chief ministers eyeing the coveted chair — party members Pratapsingh Rane, Ravi Naik, Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat — besides Churchill Alemao of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
Since Saturday, the Congress has twice staked claim to form the state government, shooting off two letters to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha.
As things stand, the BJP has 12 MLAs and the Congress 14 in the assembly. The GFP and the MGP have three MLAs each, with three Independents and one NCP member rounding up the current assembly strength of 36.
In the March 2017 elections, the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party, with 17 seats, but failed to form the government due to differences over the chief ministerial candidate.
The BJP, which won 13 seats, acted swiftly to bring the MGP, the GFP and Independents on board to form the government, calling back then defence minister Parrikar from the Centre to take over as chief minister again.
Vishwajit Rane, then a Congress MLA, subsequently quit the party to get re-elected on a BJP ticket. Two other Congress MLAs also quit the party to support the BJP.
Between 1984 and 2019, Goa has seen 19 chief ministers. So, what is it that makes Goa, with a population of 18 lakh, politically so significant for the BJP and the Congress to put in their might to form the government?.
A veteran Congress leader involved in Goa affairs explained that illegal mining, illicit liquor and land deals offer three “lucrative opportunities” for politicians in the tourist state.
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