Assembly elections 2017: Congress, BJP in tug of war to form government in Goa

Despite a hung Assembly, both the Congress and the BJP claim they will be in a position to form a government in Goa. The Congress is 4 seats short of a simple majority while the BJP finished with 8 seats less.

assembly elections Updated: Mar 11, 2017 23:44 IST
Debashish Panigrahi and Nida Khan
Debashish Panigrahi and Nida Khan
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Assembly elections,Goa,BJP
File photo of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a polling booth in Goa.(PTI Photo)

A hung assembly in Goa has sparked off a tug of war between the Congress and the BJP to form the next government in the state.

The Congress which emerged the single largest party in assembly elections by bagging 17 out of the 40 seats, said it will stake its claim for majority on Sunday even as the BJP expressed its confidence of forming the government to retain power.

All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijay Singh who is the party’s observer for Goa, said that the party is in touch with independents and other non-BJP parties to enlist their support to achieve majority (21 or more) before approaching the governor with the list.

“We are going to hold the legislature party meeting in the morning where the elected MLAs would choose the leader. Soon after that we will approach the governor and stake claim for majority with the letters of support from independents,” Singh said adding that around 10 independents, apart from NCP’s elected candidate Churchil Alamao and an independent candidate who the Congress had backed, are in touch with the party for offering support.

To a question on enlisting the support of the Goa Forward Party (winner of 3 seats) which has expressed willingness to support the BJP, Singh said, “we are talking to everybody.”

Claiming that the Congress with 17 MLAs is in a better position to garner majority than the BJP (13), Singh said, “there will be no compromise with the manifesto even if we enter into understanding with others.”

The BJP which was expected to do well under the direction of former chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, won 13 seats, down from its 2012 rally of 21. Parrikar’s successor and incumbent Chief Minister Laxmikant Parrikar lost his home seat of Mandrem to the Congress’s Dayanand Sopte by over 7,000 votes.

Former BJP ally, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) won three seats while the newly formed Goa Forward Party won three, independent candidates got three and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) won one seat.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s much anticipated entry into Goa politics ended badly: the party failed to win a single seat, Chief Ministerial candidate Elvis Gomes came fourth in Cuncolim, and several candidates forfeited their deposits.

Coalition Karma

Goa is no stranger to coalition governments – six of the past 12 elections have resulted in hung assemblies – suggesting the next few days could witness hectic horse-trading.

In a press conference after the results, Parrikar attributed the BJP’s loss to the “personal incumbency of candidates”, but said his party was confident of forming the government. “Many have expressed to side with BJP instead of Congress,” Parrikar said.

Sources said the BJP was confident of winning over the newly-minted Goa Forward Party, which has 3 seats, and could reach out to the MGP – a former ally that parted ways only in November last year. The MGP, which won 3 seats as well, has been part of every single government – BJP or Congress – since 1998.

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Ex-CMs win

Apart from the BJP’s Parsekar, who lost his seat; five former chief ministers – 4 from the Congress alone - contested this poll, and all won comfortably.

While Digambar Kamat won from Margao, Ravi Nayak retained his seat from Ponda. Luizhino Faleiro won from Navelim constituency while Pratapsinh Rane maintained his winning streak from Valpoi constituency by emerging a victor for a record 12th time. Churchill Alemao (NCP) won from Benaulim constituency.

The Congress victories were attributed to a strong performance in South Goa, which is home to the party’s traditional Catholic vote base.

The surprise was the little known Goa Forward party, which won three out of the four candidates they had fielded in this election. The winners include Vijay Sardesai, who is considered to be close to former Congress chief minister Digambar Kamat, from Fatorda constituency.

First Published: Mar 11, 2017 20:30 IST