With chief minister Manohar Parrikar losing his battle to cancer, the BJP-led coalition government in Goa is in search for a new leader to replace him. The ruling coalition will have to make a fresh representation to Governor Mridula Sinha after choosing their leader. Party legislator Michael Lobo said late Sunday night a BJP-led new Goa government would be in place by Monday morning after consultation with the coalition partners.
Parrikar was an MLA from Panaji, and his death will necessitate a fourth bypoll in Goa, where by-elections are scheduled for the Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa assembly seats on April 23, alongside the Lok Sabha elections.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has arrived in Goa to forge a fresh alliance between the BJP and the legislators who were part of the coalition government headed by Parrikar.
“The government will be in place by Monday morning at 9.30 a.m… I strongly feel that all alliance partners and Independents will stay with the BJP,” Lobo said.
Gadkari arrived in Panaji around 1 am, and started meeting the MLAs. He is also likely to finalise on a CM candidate to replace Manohar Parrikar, in consultation with party president Amit Shah.
With the Congress already formally staking claim to form government claiming to be the single largest party with 14 MLAs in the 36-member House, there is political crisis in the state.
BJP legislators and top state leaders, along with the representatives of alliance partners Goa Forward, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three independent MLAs, have gone into a huddle to chart out a strategy to form government in the state.
Speaking to the media past Sunday midnight, former minister in the Parrikar cabinet Vijai Sardesai said an informal proposal for a non-MLA chief minister was discussed at a brief meeting with BJP leaders earlier on Sunday.
“Nobody can take anybody for granted at the moment. Everybody has to work in cohesion for this thing to survive. Nobody can take anybody for granted. The numbers are such that everybody has to take each person seriously,” Sardesai said.
“When he (Gadkari) comes we will meet him. First their party should decide what they want,” he said, adding that the BJP could not choose a CM without the consent of allies.
Former PWD minister and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader Sudin Dhavalikar said any decision on stitching together a fresh alliance would depend on discussions with Gadkari.
“At this stage nothing is acceptable until there is discussion,” he said.
While the Congress has 14 MLAs in the Assembly, the BJP has 12, MGP and Goa Forward have three MLAs each, and there are four Independent legislators. MLAs in the state legislative assembly. The 40-member House was reduced to 36 after the deaths of Parrikar and BJP MLA Francis D’Souza, and with two Congress MLAs quitting the party to join the BJP last year.
In its letter to Governor Mridula Sinha, Leader of the Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said: “The coalition partners of the Parrikar-led government had allied with the BJP on the condition that the government would be headed by Parrikar, the then Defence Minister of India. The BJP, therefore, has no allies as of now.” The Congress leader said it was up to the governor to ensure “smooth transition and transfer of power” in the state.
“The Congress being the single largest party, its leader is entitled to be invited to form the next government. We therefore once again stake our claim to form the government and request Your Excellency to extend the invitation to our leaders to form the next government,” the letter said.
(With agency inputs)