On a day of fast developments here, the BJP Sunday pulled off a coup and staked claim to form the next government under Manohar Parrikar despite emerging as the second largest party behind Congress in a fractured mandate.
Enlisting the support of two independents, three members each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and that of the lone NCP member, the BJP members led by the defence minister called upon Governor Mridula Sinha in evening and formally staked the government formation claim.
“Though the BJP fell short of the numbers to form the government, with the help of alliance partners, the magical figure of 21 seats has been achieved. I promise that we will give stable government which will work towards the development of the state,” Parriakr told reporters in a joint press conference with Union minister and BJP’s Goa election incharge Nitin Gadkari.
“I have already staked the claim to form the government and I’m expecting invitation from the Governor any time,” he said.
The BJP stole the march on the Congress which failed to muster the numbers despite emerging as the single-largest party with the maximum 17 seats in the 40-member assembly.
The effective strength of the new coalition will be 22, including 13 members of the BJP.
The Congress was apparently counting on the support of the GFP which has won three seats in its debut election. The BJP, however, succeeded in keeping the Congress at bay.
The GFP initially had an adjustment with the Congress, but the latter fielded its nominees against Vijai Sairdesai in Fatorda and Vinod Palyekar in Siolim. Another debutante MLA of the party is Jayesh Salgaonkar from Saligaon.
Gadkari said, “When none of the parties could get absolute majority in Goa, it was obvious that we would form the government with the like-minded parties.
“I held meetings with the MGP and the GFP leaders who put forth the condition that they would support the party only if government is led by Manohar Parrikar.
Gadkari said he had put up the feelings of the like-minded parties before Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
“I explained to them that deputing Parrikar back to Goa is in the interest of the state and the stability of the government, that would be formed. The decision to move Parrikar to Goa has also been endorsed by BJP Parliamentary Board,” he added.
He said Parrikar would resign from the Central cabinet before taking oath as chief minister, “when he would be invited by the Governor to form the government.”
He said Parrikar has done a “tremendously good job” as defence minister.
“We, however, had to take this decision for stability of the government,” Gadkari said adding the BJP had wanted Parrikar to continue in the Union cabinet.
The BJP’s Goa unit president Vinay Tendulkar said though NCP’s Churchill Alemao has extended support to the coalition, he is yet to give a letter of support.
“He (Alemao) couldn’t reach Raj Bhavan in time as he was stuck up in traffic. Alemao will give his letter of support tomorrow,” he said.
The MGP was the BJP’s ally in the previous government but it had pulled out shortly before elections last month in protest against former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.
MGP candidates Sudin Dhavlikar, Deepak Pawaskar and Manohar Ajgaonkar have won from Madkai, Sanvordem and Pernem seats respectively.
The independent candidates who have extended the support are Rohan Khaunte (Porvorim) and Govind Gawde (Priol).
Earlier in the day, GFP leader Vijai Sardesai had said they are extending support to the BJP to provide a stable government in the coastal state.
“We are supporting BJP for stable government. We don’t want development of the state to hinder due to any instability,” he told reporters.
Dhavalikar said his party was supporting the BJP on the condition that only Parrikar heads the state government.
“We have given the letter of support to the BJP only because of Parrikar. Without him, we would not have supported the BJP to form the next government,” he said.
Addressing reporters earlier in the day, the AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh had said the Congress has the numbers to form the government in Goa, but the BJP was indulging in “horse-trading” to reach the majority mark.
“The BJP has been involved in horse-trading, promising sums, ministries, corporations and SUVs to non-BJP MLAs to get their support,” Singh had alleged.
“I have never seen in any other state where a political party which has been rejected outright, where the CM has lost, six ministers have lost, yet they are staking claim to form the government,” he told reporters here.
“The BJP should accept the defeat. The people of Goa have defeated the BJP,” said Singh who is in Goa to oversee the party’s affairs after the declaration of poll results.
The Congress Legislature Party, meanwhile, elected senior leader and Quepem MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar as their leader.