Congress is said to be in touch with some BJP allies, hoping to engineer a split in the NDA and form government.
The absence of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar from Goa is not only making alliance partners in his government restless, but has also started to create confusion among his own party MLAs in the coastal state. Parrikar is currently undergoing treatment in the United States. Even locals in Goa are “missing” Parrikar as he is seen as the most honest and popular leader of the state.
Sources within the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) told The Sunday Guardian that the Goa government seems “headless” and “shaky” in Parrikar’s absence.
“There is virtually no government in place in Goa. Governance and decision-making are hampered and people of Goa are getting affected by this. We are not even certain about when the Chief Minister will return to Goa. There should be more transparency from the CM’s office about his health,” a source said.
Sources within the Goa Congress also said that some members of the alliance partners of the government are in touch with them. A senior Congress leader, requesting anonymity, told this correspondent, “We are in touch with parties like the MGP, Goa Forward (GF) and other independent candidates. We are regularly meeting them and having discussions and, if need be, we will be able to form a Congress government in Goa with the support of all.”
However, Deepak Dhavalikar, senior MGP leader and MLA, told this newspaper, “We are very much a part of the government. We wish the Chief Minister a speedy recovery. As long as Manohar Parrikar is our leader, we will be with him and there will be no question of switching sides.”
Robin, a local shack owner at the Calangute beach, told this correspondent that every Goan has been missing Parrikar and wishing for his speedy recovery. “Parrikar is the most acceptable leader in Goa with a popular mass base and is an honest and able leader. His absence has made the government in Goa uncertain. He is a leader who is most acceptable across party lines and we all wish he returns soon and takes the reins of Goa back in his hand.”
Marquis, a local taxi operator, said that the alliance partners of the Goa government are most “untrustworthy”, as they can switch sides any moment. “The MGP and GF parties are like swinging flocks who will jump from one camp to another any moment. Manohar Parrikar is a leader who can keep all factions together and his absence is obviously causing a lot of distress among the people as well as the government. As Goans, we all wish he returns soon in good health,” Marquis said.
Nilesh Cabral, BJP spokesperson and MLA from Goa’s Curchorem constituency, also resonated the same comments as his alliance partners in the government. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, Cabral said, “With due respect to the Chief Minister, his absence has hampered the important decision-making process in Goa. Recently, the mining ban issue needed to be addressed, but we have no authoritative leader or a single head of government who could have taken a strong decision on the issue. This has affected thousands of people in the mining sector. Even people in Goa are getting restless about what would be the outcome if the government does not come in place soon.”
Cabral also questioned the protocol of governance created by Parrikar before he left for treatment to the United States. The protocol involves a three-minister committee and a slew of powers to Chief Secretary Dharmendra Sharma and Parrikar’s Principal Secretary P. Krishnamurthy.
“The three-minister committee is not a practical solution and is creating confusion. If I had been in Parrikar’s place, I would have nominated a single person to take care of the government in my absence as that would have brought in greater responsibility and accountability,” Cabral added. The Congress has also questioned the three-minister committee that is currently governing the coastal state of Goa.
Shantaram Naik, senior Congress leader and former president of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, told The Sunday Guardian, “The three-minister committee is a confusing situation that the BJP has left us with. It is not clear who is responsible and accountable for decisions. If the Governor gives nod to decisions taken by this committee, it is unconstitutional. There should have been one person nominated by the Chief Minister to take care of his government.”
Asked whether the Congress will take any steps to form the next government in Goa, Naik said, “We will ourselves not pull down the government of Goa, but if the government here falls, we will not shy away from our responsibility, being the single largest party in the state.”