Panaji: “One last attempt” by Congress legislative wing to cobble majority numbers and pull down Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s government appears to have come a cropper, with ruling alliance partners refusing to pull the rug from under the BJP-led coalition government.
In the run-up to the recently concluded by-elections to four assembly seats, leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar had repeatedly claimed that the opposition party would make a fresh bid for power soon after results are announced on May 23, with more MLAs in its kitty.
But with the party winning just one seat — the BJP won four — and the resounding victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, put paid to the Congress hopes, with potential allies in the ruling coalition developing cold feet and backing off last week.
The development has also triggered a split of sorts between the party’s legislative unit, which was keen on making its last bid to topple the government and the Pradesh Congress Committee, which wants no truck with ruling allies.
“Narendra Modi winning the Lok Sabha polls convincingly and our poor performance in Goa assembly by-elections, stumped our move. We were in touch with several non-BJP MLAs in the government, who were keen on supporting the Congress. They changed their mind at the last moment, fearing a backlash from Central government agencies,” said a Congress MLA who was in touch with MLAs from the ruling Goa Forward.
After the round of four by-elections which brought the state assembly back to its full strength of 40 legislators, the BJP-led ruling coalition now comprises 17 BJP MLAs, three MLAs of the Goa Forward party, three independent MLAs and one Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party MLA Sudin Dhavalikar.
Dhavalikar has a running feud with the BJP, after the latter engineered a split in the MGP ranks two months ago, but later refused to withdraw a letter of support to the Pramod Sawant-led coalition government, he wanted to ensure that government is stable.
The Opposition currently comprises 15 Congress MLAs and one legislator of the Nationalist Congress Party. Incidentally, the NCP MLA was missing during the election for the Speaker’s post which was held on Tuesday.
The Opposition had planned to make the Speaker’s election on Tuesday, as its launchpad for destablising the government, but with the Pramod Sawant-led coalition government winning the vote by 22-16, and Goa Forward’s refusal to play ball, the move fizzled out.
Party sources said that the 15 Congress MLAs, plus three from the Goa Forward, three Independent MLAs and one each from the NCP and the MGP was the arithmetic, which the party was banking on.
When asked whether the Congress had contacted him for support, GF president Vijai Sarsesai said: “No. Congress had contacted me for other things. Not for this and I am not available. I have announced that we are part of the NDA and we are not changing our stance”.
Speaking to IANS Goa Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello said that the defeat of Rane, who failed to attract any of his alliance partners to vote for him, has only proved that the hope of forming a government with alliance partners is put to rest and once and for all.
“In my opinion, the Congress should stop daydreaming of forming government and pick up direction of Rahul Gandhi to fight the BJP inch by inch,” said D’Mello, considered a confidant of the state Congress President.
“In Goa it is the alliance partners who should be fought against,” said D’Mello.