A last minute decision to field a candidate against Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward seems to have cost the Congress dear in government formation in Goa despite emerging as the single largest party in the state assembly.
The Congress had initially decided to support Goa Forward candidates on two seats in the assembly elections held on February 4, party sources said.
As part of the “secret pact”, the Congress had decided to support Sardesai from Fatorda constituency but huge resentment within the party forced the leadership to field a candidate against him. This had angered Sardesai and is said to be the major reason for him to go with the BJP.
Prior to the elections, a senior Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader privy to the developments in Goa, said Sardesai wanted to meet the Congress leadership in Delhi but was kept waiting for the entire day. He later left for Panaji without meeting.
After the results were out, he said Sardesai again kept waiting for the Congress leadership to come forward with some proposals on government formation but no one approached them. As there were no signs of the Congress legislature party meeting, he promptly grabbed the offer from the BJP.
Also, the Congress did not “respond positively” to a pre-poll alliance offer from the NCP, forcing former union minister Sharad Pawar’s party to field candidates on 17 seats.
While Sardesai won the seat, Jose D’Silva of the Congress was a distant fourth.
However, the Congress continued to support Vinod Datarama Paliencar from Siolim and he went on to win the elections. The third Goa Forward candidate who won the elections was Jayesh Vidyadhar Salgaonkar from Saligao.
The Congress finished with 17 seats, while the BJP has 13 in the 40-member assembly. The GFP has 3, the same number as the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. One legislator from the Nationalist Congress Party won and three independents triumphed.
Independent candidate Rohan Khaunte from Porvorim had also managed to get the Congress on his side. He won from the seat.
While Khaunte announced his support to the Congress after the results, Sardesai and other Goa Forward candidates sealed the deal with the BJP. The move prompted Goa Forward president Prabhakar Timble to resign in protest.
Expelled Congress leader and United Goan Party chief Atanasio (Babush) Monserratte, who had secured his former party’s support, lost from Panaji.
NCP candidate Churchill Alemao, who was a minister in the Congress government, had quit the party in 2014 after his daughter Valanka was denied a Lok Sabha ticket.
Alemao, who is facing bribery charges in the Louis Berger case, won from Benaulim and immediately pledged support to the BJP in what is seen as “his revenge” against the Congress. His daughter was also suspended as the Youth Congress chief in Goa on the grounds of “indiscipline” after the Lok Sabha elections in July 2014.
Goa Congress leaders also blamed the leadership for “handing over the government” to the BJP on a “platter” by delaying the naming of the legislature party leader.