Congress stakes claim to form government in BJP-ruled Goa

The Goa Congress on Saturday wrote to Governor Mridula Sinha and staked claim to form government in the state, following the death of a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA.

Congress has said the BJP MLA’s death has brought down the party’s majority in the Goa assembly. Congress has said in its letter to the Governor that it is the single largest party in the House now.

Former Goa deputy chief minister and BJP lawmaker Francis D’Souza died in February. He had been undergoing treatment at a private hospital after a cancer surgery in the US.

The Congress was the single largest party with 17 MLAs when the Goa assembly election results were declared in February 2017. But the party lost three MLAs to the BJP, which formed government in the state.

The then defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, was named as the chief minister.

The Congress party’s aggressive move assumes importance in the backdrop of its continually heating war with the BJP in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls.

Goa Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar on Saturday, in a letter to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, demanded dismissal of the BJP-led dispensation.

The strength of Goa Assembly has reduced from 40 to 37 after the death of D’Souza and resignation of two MLAs — Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte.

While the Congress currently has 14 MLAs, down from 16 after Sopte and Shirodkar left it to join the BJP, the latter has 13 MLAs.

Three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party, MGP and an Independent and the lone NCP legislator are supporting the BJP.

In a communication to the governor, Kavlekar said, “Consequent upon the sad demise of Francis D’Souza, MLA who was belonging to the BJP, it is humbly submitted that incumbent BJP led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, which has long lost the trust of the people, has also lost the strength of the House”.

“Also, we anticipate that numbers of the BJP may further dwindle thus not allowing such a party in minority to continue even for a moment,” his letter stated.

“It is therefore incumbent upon you to dismiss the state government led by the BJP and ensure that the Indian National Congress party, which is the single largest party in the House and is presently enjoying the majority, be called to form government,” his letter added.

His letter warned that “any action in violation of the constitutional mandate to invite the single largest party to form the government and any attempt made to bring the state under President’s Rule will be undemocratic, and illegal and will be challenged, as deemed fit”.

“We are therefore staking our claim to form the state government and demand that we be called to form the government forthwith by dismissing the incumbent BJP led government,” the letter read.

Bypolls to the seats previously held by Sopte, Shirodkar and D’Souza are to be held along with Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 23.

Notably, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was among the leaders that spearheaded the BJP’s poll campaign since 1994 in the state, is likely to stay away from the heat and dust of electioneering for Lok Sabha polls this time. The chief minister has been suffering from a pancreatic ailment for last one year.

(with inputs from agencies)

Updated: March 16, 2019 — 6:32 pm