BJP’s quandary stems from the fact that Parrikar did not groom a second rung and the party has few leaders in Goa who carry adequate weight.
New Delhi: The BJP central leadership is facing a grave predicament about “what next” in Goa and whom to bet on, with growing indications of chief minister Manohar Parrikar giving up the post in the face of his deteriorating health.
Parrikar has been admitted to AIIMS, Delhi, for his treatment. The top brass of the BJP, meanwhile, is grappling with the crisis of succession, with limited options on the chess board to play with. According to top sources in the party, the leadership’s quandary stems from the fact that it has few leaders in the state who carry adequate weight, and those who do may not be acceptable due to inherent contradictions.
The state’s representative at the Centre, minister of state with independent charge, AYUSH, Shripad Naik, is the second-most popular leader among the cadre after Parrikar, but is considered to be a light-weight as an administrator, lacking management skills.
The sources say the party leadership is unsure of his ability to manage a difficult coalition in the state and hence, is not in favour of giving him charge of Goa. Moreover, Naik is not an MLA and given the fragility of its coalition, the BJP hardly wants to risk a bypoll.
Of the 40 seats in the state, BJP has 14 while the Congress has 16. However, the BJP-led coalition, which comprises the Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three independents, together has 23 MLAs.
The party’s biggest dilemma is that of its 14 MLAs in the state, seven are Catholics (including the deputy CM), and given its politics, the BJP cannot opt for any of them. In addition, senior cabinet ministers Francis D’Souza and Pandurang Madkaikar are also unwell.
Compounding the dilemma further is cabinet minister Vishwajit Pratap Rane, who has already made a strong and ambitious pitch for the post. Rane ticks all the boxes — he is a big name, is popular, has local unit support and wields money as well as muscle power — except the most crucial one.
Rane, son of former CM and veteran Congress leader Pratapsingh Raoji Rane, does not have origins in the Sangh or BJP, having quit the Congress to join the party only in April 2017.
The sources say while Rane has the support of many in the local unit and is also known to be very close to BJP president Amit Shah, his Congress background puts a serious question mark on his acceptability. On all other counts, however, Rane seems to be the party’s best bet.
The BJP’s two coalition partners — GFP and MGP — are causing further headache. Sources say the party high command is concerned about the Vijai Sardesai of GFP and MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar flexing their muscles and making a bid for the post.
The top brass, however, has reservations against both. The BJP is unlikely to agree to a merger with them. Sardesai doesn’t suit its purpose since he is a relative lightweight and has a Congress background. Dhavalikar, meanwhile, suits the BJP’s Hindutva agenda but again, is not from the party.
As per sources, the crisis has arisen “since Parrikar groomed no second rung”. With all the options carrying question marks — PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah — who are not known to give up power easily, are well aware they have their task cut out.
Sources say consultations and calculations continue to be on at the highest level, with no clarity on when a decision could be expected.