The BJP’s quest to find a replacement for ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar met with a setback on Wednesday as a meeting of top state BJP officials with party President Amit Shah in Delhi failed to resolve the issue.
Party sources said the meeting, attended by state BJP President Vinay Tendulkar and Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik — both contenders for the Chief Ministerial slot — and South Goa MP Narendra Savoikar remained inconclusive.
“Our party President is seized of the matter, but no decision has been made on the leadership issue yet,” a BJP leader said on the condition of anonymity.
The sources said that a pointed demand made by regional ally Goa Forward to appoint a non-legislator as a Chief Minister was shot down by Parrikar, admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, who is being consulted.
Parrikar, suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York and now Delhi since February, when his illness was diagnosed.
This has led to criticism from the opposition and civil society, which have demanded that he should resign to make way for a “fully fit” Chief Minister who can efficiently discharge official duties.
There are several options which the BJP leadership has been tinkering with over the last few days, ever since the high command took serious note of the criticism about Parrikar’s absence from office.
The options include Shripad Naik, a popular ‘bahujan samaj’ (non-Brahmin caste) leader whose presence could be a boon for the BJP, which has over the last few years been accused of alienating the lower castes.
While Naik is Parrikar’s peer in the Goa BJP, both leaders have shadow-boxed each other on several occasions and are known to head two power centres within the party.
The other options include Vinay Tendulkar, a Rajya Sabah MP who has in the past sacrificed ministerial berth as well as a party ticket on leadership’s instructions as also Goa Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant.
Senior state party leaders as well as ex-MLAs, who met National General Secretary (Organisation) Ram Lal in Goa this week have rejected the proposal to invite a member of the alliance parties to head the coalition government.
Speaking to IANS, Goa Forward President Vijai Sardesai said that he was fine with the delay on part of the BJP to decide on the leadership issue.
“Let them take time. But the decision should be a permanent one that keeps the state’s political stability in mind,” the Town and Country Planning Minister said.