Goa seemed headed for a change of guard with the BJP central leadership expected to send central observers and leaders to the state to monitor political developments and address the leadership issue, BJP sources confirmed Friday, after concerns over Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s health.
Since his return from the US on September 6, Parrikar has not attended office and has been recovering at home, with regular visits to a clinic at Candolim in north Goa. His family admitted him to the clinic Thursday night after he complained of a fever.
Parrikar Friday also called state BJP leaders and alliance ministers to the clinic for a meeting. By evening, ministers were seen walking into the clinic where they were huddled for at least an hour. Parrikar also made efforts to quell rumours of his health concerns by taking a break and visiting his ancestral house in Parra, for Ganesh Chaturthi.
Earlier this week, the Opposition Congress had even reached out to Governor Mridula Sinha claiming Parrikar will dissolve the assembly, and seek a fresh mandate.
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Soon after the meeting Friday, both ally partners Vijai Sardesai of the Goa Forward and Sudin Dhavalikar of the Maharashtra Gomantak Party (MGP), spoke to reporters, maintaining that “Parrikar is fine”. Dhavalikar said little, except: “He is doing work. When he is doing work, where is the question of taking charge.” Sources also said that the BJP may offer Dhavalikar the post of Deputy Chief Minister. “Preliminary discussions are going on. But, we cannot say anything yet. I will wait to meet Sudin before I comment any further,” said MGP state president Deepak Dhavalikar.
Sardesai said he visited the hospital to wish Parrikar on Ganesh Chaturthi and added, “Their central observers are expected to come soon.”
“At this stage, nothing can be said. All sorts of rumours are flying. We along with Union Minister for State Shripad Naik met him (Parrikar) at the clinic. It was a meeting called by him as, since his return from the US, he has not met all of us together. He looked weak. But I will still wait to see him recover before saying anything,” said Goa BJP general secretary Sadanand Shet Tanavade.
The day’s developments follow allegations by the Congress that they see “difficult times” ahead with a weak leadership affecting the state’s administrative and economic decisions. “He is holding over 90 departments including those of ministries held by other ailing and hospitalised Cabinet ministers. How can this be allowed? We sympathise his health, but this is absolute power. He should be resting, but instead, he is holding charge over everything, refusing to share responsibilities with his own ministers,” said Ramakant Khalap, former union minister of state for law and senior Congress leader.
Congress state president Girish Chodonkar said, “We are closely watching today’s development. Even now, there is no official statement coming from the government on any of this. The ministers are just coming out independently and saying things are fine. Everyone is being fooled. We have been demanding for a full-time Chief Minister. We have gone to the Governor, too, and we have demanded this for four months now. This way of functioning is absolute foolishness.”