PANAJI: BJP president Amit Shah has stepped in to handle a potential crisis for the party’s government in Goa, where the Congress has staked claim to power at a time Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is in hospital. Amit Shah dialed ally Goa Forward’s Vijay Sardesai, a minister in the BJP-led government, after allies rejected a plan to have minister Sudhin Dhavalikar take charge as deputy Chief Minister in the absence of Mr Parrikar, who was admitted to the AIIMS hospital in Delhi on Saturday.
It was Mr Parrikar, 62, who “suddenly” asked Mr Dhavalikar of ally Maharashtra Gomantak Party (MGP) to take over as his deputy, leaving other allies like Mr Sardesai upset, news agency IANS has said quoting sources. In 2014, Sudhin Dhavalikar had stirred the pot with his comment that bikinis should be banned on Goa’s beaches.
Sources say the Goa Forward Party and others supporting the BJP have rejected him as stop-gap chief minister, demanding a more permanent arrangement. The BJP president is likely to get back to them with a new formula. Vijai Sardesai and two more Goa Forward Party lawmakers and three independents met the BJP’s central observers on Sunday.
As the seaside state faces political turmoil, six lawmakers backing the BJP – three of the Goa Forward Party and
three independents – 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 with 16 seats and the BJP has 14.
After the 2017 Goa election, the BJP cobbled together a coalition with Goan parties and formed government, outmaneuvering the Congress in the number game. The BJP formed the government with the Goa Forward Party, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three independents.
The Congress intensified its attacks on the 18-month-old government as Mr Parrikar, battling illness, went to the US for treatment. The opposition accused the BJP of running a rudderless government without a leadership.
The BJP’s Goa problem is exacerbated by the lack of any significant second-line leaders to step in. Some other ministers have also been unwell. Urban Development Minister Francis D’Souza is getting treatment in New York and Power Minister Pandurang Madkaikar suffered a brain stroke a few months back.
On Monday, the Congress finally staked claim to form a government, alleging that the administration had collapsed, and urged Governor Mridula Sinha to dismiss the BJP government. The opposition party, which is yet to meet the governor, claims it has the support of enough legislators from Goan parties to prove its majority in the assembly.
Fearing a BJP move to dissolve the assembly and call for fresh polls, the Congress’s Chandrakant Kavlekar said the state is not in a position to face another election within one-and-half years as that would severely strain the state exchequer.
Mr Sardesai has denied any talks with the Congress. “We are not talking to anyone, neither is anybody talking to us,” he said. “We are waiting to hear from Amit Shah who has said that they will get back to us with a proposal,”