In a huge blow to the Congress, two of its party MLAs from Goa have quit the party and joined the CM Parrikar led BJP which is currently in power in the state. This comes at a critical juncture when the Congress was trying to use the pretext of BJP CM Manohar Parrikar and his bad health in order to wrench power in the state from the hands of the ruling party. But this telling blow has weakened it completely and must have sent the opposition party on back foot in Goa.
Ever since Goa chief minister was indisposed, Congress made all possible attempts to capture power in the state. The Congress had petitioned President Ram Nath Kovind, seeking his intervention to ask Goa Governor, Mridula Sinha, to call them to form government in Goa. They had also met the Goa governor five times on their own, claiming majority in the house and demanding a floor test. The Congress had been claiming that since it was the single largest party in Goa, only it had the right to form government in the state. The party did not care that this was highly hypocritical on its part, as it is in power along with JDS in Karnataka even though BJP happens to be the single largest party in Karnataka.
In the 40-member state assembly of Goa, the Congress had won 17 seats to emerge as the single largest party. The BJP won from 13 seats and has the support of three each from Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and three Independents. Later on, Manohar Parrikar won from Panaji and brought BJP’s tally to 14, reducing Congress to 16. Thus, with the support of the coalition partners, it easily went past the clear majority mark. Now, with the resignation of two of Congress’s MLAs, the equation has changed upside down. The opposition party is no longer the largest party and its strength in the assembly now is reduced to just 14 members. With the defection of two Congress MLAs, its current tally stands at 14 and that of BJP at 16. Congress is no longer the single largest party in the state and will have to stop claiming that it has the right to form government in Goa.
This is yet another testimony of Goa chief minister’s leadership skill and his immense popularity and standing in the state of Goa. While the Congress felt there was a vacuum in BJP, given that chief minister Parrikar is struggling with bad health, the recent turn of events must have taken the Congress by surprise. Even in this condition of poor health and indisposition, Manohar Parrikar has not only been able to ward off all attempts by the Congress to topple BJP in the state, but has also been successful in considerably damaging the current standing of the opposition. The opposition was trying to stage an upset for the BJP and now its own house is not in order. The Congress has been sent packing and must now be repenting going overboard in the first place against Parrikar led BJP. The Congress must now try to save itself from a potential rebellion keeping in mind that one of the Congress MLAs who has quit membership of the assembly and has decided to join the BJP has stated, “We are joining BJP today. We expect 2-3 more MLAs to come, not today but in the coming days.” It is, therefore, possible that more resignations come from within the Congress giving the party further jolts.
The Congress meanwhile has alleged mala fide on part of the BJP. Congress’s Goa in-charge Dr A Chellakumar claimed, “I got a message that (Goa Health Minister) Vishwajit Rane was the man who had convinced and taken them to Delhi and bargained with the BJP high command that if he were to get the two Congress MLAs, he should be made Chief Minister.” This seems to be a ploy by the party to save face and avoid further embarrassment given that it must have been taken aback by the manner in which the events unfolded.
The Congress has no option now but to stay silent and ensure that its own house is in order so that it saves itself from such embarrassment in the future. This blow will compel the Congress to go on the back foot and be defensive instead of attempting to bring down the BJP government in Goa.
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