In Goa’s Political Theatre, Can Congress Play King Again?
In the event of a floor test in Goa, here’s how things can pan out for the BJP and the Congress.
Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been keeping unwell since February 2018 and his prolonged absence from the state has reportedly led to a power struggle within the alliance that he glued together. A former defence minister, Parrikar is admitted to Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) where he is undergoing treatment for pancreatic ailment.
According to reports, Parrikar had initially expressed his inability to discharge his duties, following which rumours of Sudin Dhavlikar – one of the three MLAs from ally Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) – taking over as deputy chief minister filled Goa’s political circles.
But that proposal has been opposed by ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the three independent MLAs supporting the BJP-led government. An NDTV report suggests that BJP President Amit Shah had dialled GFP president Vijay Sardesai after several members rejected Dhavlikar’s elevation.
Several members of the BJP in Goa have reportedly been asking for interim arrangements to be made in the wake of Parrikar’s absence, but so far the party leadership has not been able to find a consensus candidate suitable to all allies.
Sensing that the situation may go out of hand, the BJP’s central leadership had sent three observers to the state, following which the party is considering reappointing a Cabinet Advisory Committee (CAC), reports the Hindustan Times.
The CAC, if reappointed, will empower a number of ministers to approve expenditure proposals on CM Parrikar’s behalf. But so far there’s been no clarity on a second-line of leadership in Parrikar’s absence.
Congress Seeks To Reclaim Goa
The Congress had won 17 seats (the party later lost one seat after Vishwajeet Rane resigned and won on a BJP ticket) in 2017 but was prevented from forming the government as it failed to bring other parties on board while the BJP acted right under its nose. It has urged the Governor to not dissolve the Assembly and allow it to form the government while challenging Parrikar to prove majority in the House.
Although the Congress says it is in touch with other MLAs, all coalition members have said they are with the BJP and won’t break away from the alliance. The lone NCP lawmaker Churchill Alemao had previously voted for the BJP during the trust vote in March 2017, but now says that he will support the Congress, reported The Hindu.
But politics is the art of the impossible and here’s what could happen in Goa.
Scenario 1: Smooth Sailing for BJP
The BJP-led alliance in Goa has 22 members – excluding the Speaker who can’t vote unless there’s a tie – out of which three party members are ill, reports the Hindustan Times. Apart from Parrikar, Urban Development Minister Francis D’souza is being treated for a kidney ailment in the United States and Minister of Power Pandurang Madkaikar has been hospitalised ever since he suffered a stroke.
In the event of a floor test, even if these three ailing lawmakers aren’t able to vote and the allies stay together, the BJP will win. The BJP will be left with 19 MLAs, one short of the halfway mark, but two more than the Congress’ 17 (one from NCP.)
Scenario 2: A Tie
Even if one of the three independent candidates side with the Congress, increasing its tally to 18 and the three ailing BJP lawmakers don’t vote, the BJP-led coalition will be left with 18 MLAs, bringing it to a tie with the Congress.
In the event of a tie, the Speaker of the Assembly can cast his vote. If the Speaker casts his vote in favour of the BJP-led coalition, the BJP will stand at 19, one seat more than the Congress.
If in the same scenario, the three ailing BJP lawmakers vote, the BJP will secure 21 votes, and sail through the trust vote.
Scenario 3: Congress Wins Big
If the three ailing BJP MLAs don’t vote, the BJP’s numbers will be reduced to 19 (22-3=19). Further, if three independents, or either of the three MLAs from the MGP or the GFP split with BJP and side with the Congress, the BJP will be reduced to 16 and the Congress will increase its tally to 20, reaching the halfway mark.
In such a scenario, even if the three ailing BJP lawmakers vote, the BJP will only be able to manage 19 votes and will lose hold over Goa.
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