The Manohar Parrikar government on Wednesday proved its majority on the floor of the Goa Assembly by winning the trust vote with the support of 22 legislators in the 40-member house. The Congress, the single largest party with 17 MLAs, suffered a jolt as its legislator Viswajit Rane resigned the membership of the assembly, after refusing to vote against the trust motion defying the party whip.
Viswajit, son of Congress veteran and former chief minister Pratap Sinh Rane, said he was also quitting the party.
While Viswajit was elected from Valpoi his father won from Poriem.
The Congress, which failed in the number game and accused the BJP of horse-trading and other unfair means to retain power in the state, could mobilise only 16 votes against the government.
After winning the vote, a jubilant Parrikar said the Congress never had the numbers on its side.
He said the Congress created the hype over the BJP’s bid to form the government, because there was a demand for Digvijay Singh to step down as AICC general secretary in charge of the state.
“We have proved to the people of India that we have support of 23 on the floor of the House debunking Digvijay’s claim that we don’t have the numbers,” he told mediapersons.
He was flanked by Goa Forward Party (GFP) leader Vijai Sardesai and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLA Sudin Dhavalikar, whose support sealed the deal in favour of the BJP, whose tally came down to 13 from 21 this time.
The 61-year-old chief minister proved his majority with 12 legislators from the BJP, three from the GFP, three from the MGP, three Independents and one from the NCP supporting the trust motion.
One BJP MLA was made the pro tem speaker.
The special assembly session was convened to conduct the floor test following an order by the Supreme Court.
The Congress was reduced to 16 MLAs, after Viswajit remained absent during the voting.
The test was passed through a clear division which was ordered by Pro-tem Speaker Siddharth Kuncolienkar.
Parrikar, who resigned as Defence Minister from the central cabinet earlier this week, was sworn-in as the chief minister along with nine other MLAs by Governor Mridula Sinha on March 14.
“Right from the beginning Congress did not have the numbers and it was only a hype created by them possibly because there was a demand coming that Digvijay should step down as General Secretary of the party, being the desk incharge of Goa,” he claimed.
“It happens when you come to Goa only to enjoy, not to work,” he quipped.
Parrikar also rubbished allegations of horse trading levelled by the Congress against the BJP.
“I think there are wild allegations being made. Those with coloured glasses make these allegations. We saw everyone (legislators) voluntarily came and voted,” he said.
“None of them was kept in hotel or secluded or common place, as was the case with opposition,” he further said.
Minutes after abstaining from the floor test, Viswajit resigned as Member of the Assembly and quit the Congress.
Viswajit, 45, said he was upset with the party leadership which has failed to form the government in Goa despite people giving mandate.
Viswajit, a three-time legislator, submitted his resignation to the Pro Tem speaker, soon after Parrikar sailed through the trust vote.
“I do not expect anything from the Congress party. They have betrayed trust of Goa by not forming the government despite people giving them clear mandate,” he told PTI.
Viswajit said he would be recontesting from Valpoi seat again but refused to say which party he would join.
“Many others will follow me, you wait and watch,” he said.
After the BJP stole a march on it, an aggrieved Congress moved the Supreme Court on March 13 seeking to stall the swearing-in of Parrikar with the claim that it should have been invited to form the government since it was the single largest party.
But the apex court refused to stop the swearing-in and ordered conduct of the floor test today.
Ahead of the trust vote, all the 40 legislators took oath.
Parrikar said the election of Assembly Speaker will be held on March 22, followed by Governor’s address on March 23. The state budget would be presented on March 24.
He said discussions to decide on the candidate for Speaker’s post were yet to be held.
“We will hold the Cabinet tomorrow. Few portfolios, one-one each would be distributed tomorrow evening. It would be notified day after tomorrow as the Governor has gone outside Goa,” he said.
Parrikar said he would expand his Cabinet next month.
This is for the fourth time that Parrikar has become the chief minister of Goa, though he could not complete full term in any of his earlier stints.
BJP veteran Nitin Gadkari, who played a central role in steering his party to power in the state, rubbished the Congress allegations asserting government formation in Goa was a “fair deal” which did not involve any wrongdoing.