BJP President Amit Shah moved swiftly to ensure that the party returns to power in Goa by roping in independents and smaller parties. Sources said that Shah rushed Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari, who led electioneering in Goa, and Manohar Parrikar to Panaji after consultations with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as BJP got 13 seats while the Congress bagged 17 in the 40-member Goa assembly.
Sources said that Shah was “quite confident” that it would not be a tough job for former Goa Chief Minister Parrikar, who has strong ties with most politicians in the state, to help the party form the government. The BJP had the advantage of being the party in power at the Centre while dealing with the smaller parties. The party leaders were in awe with Shah’s “swift moves”.
Sources pointed out that Parrikar had “never left Goa” and always nursed the dream of returning to the state as chief minister.
Leaders, including Shah and Gadkari, had dropped enough hints that Parrikar could return to the state. “With the BJP not having the adequate number, it became a necessity,” said a BJP leader.
Gadkari and Parrikar first approached the Maharashtra Gomantak Party (MGP), which was in alliance with the BJP until December. The party’s ties with the BJP had soured under the leadership of Laxmikant Parsekar, who succeeded Parrikar as chief minister. MGP leader Ramkrishna Sudin Dhavalikar had promised to support the BJP if Parrikar was made the chief minister.
Sources said that Gadkari had been in touch with Dhavalikar even during the campaign as the party sensed it has lost ground in rural areas and the election could throw up a hung assembly. Dhavalikar is considered to enjoy Gadkari’s trust.
He had in December said that they had spoken to Nitin Gadkari in 2012 and decided that they will form an alliance only if Parrikar led the BJP.
Gadkari and Parrikar later contacted Goa Forward Party leader Vijai Sardesai, whose three MLAs declared support for the BJP, after ensuring support of as many MGP lawmakers. Sources said that Gadkari had many rounds of discussions with Sardesai before finalising the deal.
Sardesai had been a Parrikar critic during the latter’s term as the chief minister.
In Delhi, Shah met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh before the BJP’s Parliamentary Board meeting on Sunday after Gadkari and Parrikar confirmed that they had the numbers to form the government.
Shah conveyed to Singh that Parrikar would take over as Goa chief minister although their hour-long meeting focused on Uttar Pradesh. The Board met after Modi’s victory rally to endorse the move.