After deputy chief minister Francis D’Souza threw his hat in the race for the chief minister’s post, the difficulties before the Bharatiya Janata Party in selecting Manohar Parrikar’s successor have increased.
The incumbent chief minister will resign on Saturday after a meeting of the central parliamentary board of BJP in New Delhi.
Though D’Souza claimed himself to be the most deserving candidate, assembly speaker Rajendra Arlekar and health minister Laxmikant Parsekar are still frontrunners for the top post.
After his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, Parrikar said on Thursday that he was all set to join the union cabinet. The party took stock of the political situation in the meeting of the legislative party on Friday morning. Party MLAs have expressed their opinion on the new leadership with Arlekar and Parsekar getting maximum support.
According to the party sources, the Parsekar has largest support from the MLAs and even chief minister Manohar Parrikar is believably in his favour to replace him. Parsekar has the considerable administrative experience as a minister for years, while Arlekar lacks on that front though his clean image stands in favour of him.
Arlekar also enjoys the strong support of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and it may prove to be in his favour. Dalit face of the party, Aklekar’s father Vishwanath was one of the founder members of the Jan Sangh in the state.
With 21 MLAs, the BJP has the majority in 40 seat assembly in Goa. A group of MLAs feel that the party needs a dynamic leader like Parsekar to lead the party, which has only one seat more that the 50% mark. Party sources also claimed that the leaders that play key role between government and party have strong support to Parsekar. To keep his arch-rival and union tourism minister Sripad Naik away from the coveted post, Parrikar too has supported Parsekar as compromise formula.
However, the claim by D’Souza has posed a challenge before the party leadership as he represents the Christian community, which accounts largest part of the population of the state and has voted for Parrikar led BJP in the recent elections.
D’Souza, who returned hastily from London on Friday morning, has threatened the party leadership that he would not work under any other leader if denied the top post. Undermining D’Souza may cost dear to the party on caste equations in the next assembly elections that are two-and-half years away.