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Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar.

BJP looks at options to restore stability in Goa

The BJP leadership hopes to end the political uncertainty in Goa by appointing a cabinet coordination committee, appointing a successor to Parrikar and naming a deputy CM

Mumbai: The central leadership of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is exploring at least three options in Goa after the ailment of chief minister Manohar Parrikar who held the coalition together cast it into uncertainty, BJP functionaries and members of the party’s core committee in Goa said.

These are appointing a cabinet coordination committee (CCC) of three ministers; appointing a successor to be named by Parrikar; and naming a deputy chief minister.

Wit this, the BJP leadership hopes to end the political uncertainty, keep opposition Congress at bay, and help the party retain the two Lok Sabha seats in the costal state in the next general elections.

Party functionaries in Goa said they do not expect any change until the Ganpati festival comes to end 23 September. Also, Goa governor Mridula Sinha on 18 September told a Congress delegation that called on her to demand a floor test that she would convey her decision within three to four days.

The BJP leadership is racing against time available till next Monday to restore political stability and prepare the cadres to concentrate on winning the two Lok Sabha seats from Goa, a senior BJP functionary familiar with developments in Goa said on condition of anonymity. He said all these options would be discussed with the BJP allies in the next three to four days.

BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday spoke to all three BJP MPs from Goa—North Goa MP and Union minister Shripad Naik, South Goa MP Narendra Sawaikar, and Rajya Sabha MP and Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar—along with the three central observers deputed by him last week to take stock of the political situation in Goa. However, no decision was taken by Shah pending consultations with the BJP allies Maharashtravadi Gomantak Paksha (MGP), Goa Forward (GF), and three Independent legislators, a core committee member told Mint.

“Leadership change, if any, will have to be discussed with our allies in Goa. The core committee will talk to them and convey their views to the leadership. Amitji may personally speak with them or depute our Goa in-charge Nitin Gadkariji to engage the allies," a Goa BJP core committee member who did not want to be named told Mint.

The Parrikar-led coalition has already tried the option of a cabinet coordination committee. In March, before he made his first trip to the US for treatment, Parrikar appointed the committee comprising senior BJP minister Francis D’Souza, MGP leader and minister Sudin Dhavalikar, and GF chief and minister Vijay Sardesai to take day-to-day decisions. The core committee member said the same arrangement could be made with one change. D’Souza, who is also ailing and taking treatment in the US, could be replaced by a BJP minister. “But this would be a stop-gap arrangement and won’t restore stability. Also, the allies, especially the MGP, is not ready for this option but we will talk to them," said the BJP leader.

The second option being explored by the BJP and on which Parrikar is said to be keen, is naming a successor next week. A Goa BJP functionary who has had a long association with Parrikar said that last week itself, the chief minister had conveyed his wish to step down and name a successor to the party leadership. “In the current situation when the leadership is finding it difficult to choose a successor, the choice should be left to Parrikar himself since he is our unquestioned leader. This, according to Goa BJP and all BJP legislators, is the best option since it would ensure that the new chief minister gets support of all," this functionary told Mint, requesting anonymity.

He said one section of the party wanted Parrikar and the central leadership to name a leader from the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) as the successor. “Both Parrikar and Vijay Sardesai of GF who is also being talked about as a successor if he merges his party with us are Saraswat Brahmans. This is a significant caste in Goa but we have to be conscious of the OBCs as well," he said, pointing at the rebellion of former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary Subhash Velingkar ahead of the 2017 elections in Goa. “Velingkar is an OBC and took away with him a section of OBC support-base of the BJP in Goa which had turned against Parrikar. We need this section back before the next Lok Sabha elections," said the BJP functionary.

The BJP is also thinking of appointing a deputy chief minister, preferably from GF which has lined up support from the three Independents, to help it ride out the current phase of uncertainty and restore some sense of governance, BJP functionaries quoted earlier say.

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