The BJP has moved fast to declare a Chief Minister for Goa and to seal the numbers game in Manipur while the Congress has been slow off the blocks and shown confusion on the ground. Despite knowing that the BJP was working overtime to form a government in Goa, the Congress, sources said, could not decide on its chief ministerial nominee on Sunday.
The Goa Forward Party, which emerged as the key player with three MLAs, was opposed to state Congress president Luizinho Faleiro becoming the Chief Minister. It was said to be favourably disposed to Digambar Kamat. But there was hectic lobbying within the Congress which eluded the emergence of a consensus candidate.
Amid the confusion, the Congress held a meeting of its newly elected 17 MLAs on Sunday afternoon. The Congress is the single largest party in Goa. A secret ballot was used to elect a leader. The verdict along with a resolution authorising the high command to take a decision was sent to Delhi. Amid the delay, the BJP moved fast.
There is a background too. In the run-up to the Assembly elections in Goa, the newly formed Goa Forward Party was keen to have an alliance with the Congress.
Former Chief Minister Kamat was keen and so was AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh. But state Congress chief Luizinho Faleiro and those close to him were opposed to it.
Finally, the alliance did not materialise. Singh tried not to put up candidates in four seats — Fatorda, Siolim, Porvorim and Saligao — where the Goa Forward Party was contesting. That bid was also nixed. Finally, it did not field candidates in two seats.
On Sunday, as the Congress reached out to the Goa Forward Party for support, the local party baulked. It set the condition that it will not accept Faleiro as the Chief Minister. Singh and Kamat were holding talks with the parties.
The BJP, meanwhile, moved fast and conveyed to both the Goa Forward and estranged ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, a far more acceptable face, would return to Goa as Chief Minister.
The Congress, of course, alleged an under-hand deal. “They may say that we delayed the process of electing the legislature party leader… But for the BJP, they will not say these things… they will wait for 7-8 days,” senior Congress leader Shantaram Naik told The Indian Express. He claimed Nitin Gadkari and Parrikar had been camping in Goa for the last two days.
In Manipur, the numbers seem stacked against the Congress. While it emerged as the single largest party with 28 seats out of 60, getting allies has been a near impossible task. The Naga Peoples Front and National People’s Party, which secured four seats each, are allies of the BJP, as is the LJP which got one seat.
The Congress was hoping to break the BJP and if possible the two smaller parties. But the BJP turned the tables on it on Sunday as one Congress MLA crossed over to the BJP. Sources said, so did the lone Trinamool Congress MLA. AICC general secretary in-charge C P Joshi and senior leaders Ramesh Chennithala and Oscar Fernandes reached Imphal . But by the time they reached, the game seemed to be over.