Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar won a crucial trust vote in the Goa assembly on Thursday as 22 legislators backed the BJP-led coalition, potentially drawing the curtains on a dramatic government formation process in the coastal state. (HIGHLIGHTS)
The BJP won the support of 12 of its own MLAs – excluding pro-tem speaker Sidharth Kuncalienker -- three each from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party, three independent lawmakers and a Nationalist Congress Party legislator.
“We have proved before the people of India, we had support of 23 and we proved it on the floor of house,” Parrikar was quoted as saying by ANI.
“Everyone voluntarily came and voted, none of them were kept in a hotel room or secluded common place as was the case of opposition.”
The opposition Congress could only muster 16 in the 40-member assembly as MLA Vishwajeet Rane boycotted the floor test. “People of Goa defeated BJP but those who got elected on anti BJP vote sold Goa to BJP. Sad,” Congress state in-charge Digvijaya Singh tweeted.
People of Goa defeated BJP but those who got elected on anti BJP vote sold Goa to BJP. Sad.— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) March 16, 2017
The floor test was ordered by the Supreme Court after the Congress approached the top court three days ago, alleging that governor Mridula Sinha had broken the law by not calling the single-largest party, the Congress, to form the government.
The BJP finished behind the Congress in Goa but pushed ahead with government formation hours after assembly election results were declared on March 11.
Manohar Parrikar resigned as Union defence minister a couple of days later and returned to Goa – where he was chief minister twice before – to cobble together a coalition. This triggered allegations from Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi that the BJP was stealing the electoral mandate by throwing money to legislators.
“Digvijaya’s claims that they have numbers have been debunked. Right from the beginning, they didn’t have the number,” Parrikar told reporters. “It was only hype possibly because there was a demand that was coming that Digvijaya step down as general secretary.”
The floor test loss is likely to trigger another round of clamour in the Congress, where several leaders have blamed the leadership of indecision and ceding advantage to the BJP. Minutes after the Congress failed to win the floor test, former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar demanded a change in party leadership.
“Our position in national politics is shrinking…there is a need to bring change in the Congress leadership,” the former Panchayati Raj minister was quoted by ANI as saying.
“The general secretaries need to be the young people and the old experienced people should be in the Congress working committee.”
After winning the vote, Parrikar turned his attention to policy matters, laying out the schedule for swearing-in of more ministers and passage of the state budget. But he refused to speculate on whether he would appoint a deputy CM or seek the support of Rane.
But the drama refused to die out with conflicting reports about Rane’s whereabouts. Congress MLA Chandrakant Kavlekar told ANI that Rane was untraceable since the floor test. “We tried to find out if he was in the washroom, but could not find him.”