With barely some hours to go for the results to the 2022 Assembly polls in Goa, both the BJP and the Congress Party have started frenzied negotiations with those they fought elections against.
MUMBAI: Hectic politicking is on in Goa with caretaker chief minister Dr Pramod Sawant air-dashing to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday He then headed to Maharashtra to meet Devendra Fadnavis, former chief minister and in-charge of Goa. Together they will decide on the next course of action in gaining the magic figure of 21 to form the government in Goa. Meanwhile, senior Congress Party leader in-charge of Goa, P Chidambaram is parked in Goa since a few days armed with the powers to take all decisions which will ensure a Congress Party government in Goa, said sources. The Congress Party has also sent its senior leader from Karnataka D K Sivakumar, who is considered to be a “master negotiator”.
“Last time the Congress Party failed as we could not come to a consensus on the chief minister. This time, the pace has quickened and Chidambaram ji is a quick decision maker,” said a party source. The exit polls have predicted a hung assembly in Goa, which was a foregone conclusion even as campaigning was in full swing in the state. With eight national parties and an equal number of regional parties in the election fray for the 40 seats in the Goa Legislative Assembly, political parties were well aware that it would be a fractured mandate in the state. A time when every seat can make a
winner, the BJP and the Congress Party are extending hands to parties whom they had campaigned against. While the BJP has sought the help of the Maharashtra Gomantak Party (MGP), a former ally turned opponent to help it gain the numbers, the Congress Party has turned to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) – both parties who are its opponents in Delhi and West Bengal respectively. AAP convenor and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and TMC chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee were not keen on a pre-poll alliance with the Congress Party.
Sources in the Congress Party told Outlook that Chidambaram stands a better chance to stitch an alliance with the AAP and the TMC.
The MGP is angry with Sawant for dropping it from the cabinet when he took over as the chief minister after the death of Manohar Parrikar, the then chief minister. The MGP has a pre-poll alliance with the TMC. However, the MGP is bargaining hard – support in exchange for the chief minister’s
post, said sources. Also, the MGP will not hold talks with the BJP if Sawant is driving it. “The MGP wants Sawant to be dropped from the group that will hold talks with them. Those disgruntled in the BJP have supported the MGP which is now driving a very hard bargain,” said a source in the know of
present-day political happenings in the state. Sources told Outlook that both the Congress Party and the BJP may have new chief ministerial faces
if they manage to come up with the magic figure of 21 legislators to form the government in Goa. Meanwhile, a war for the chief minister’s chair has started in Goa. In the 2017 Assembly polls in this state, the Congress Party had lost out on forming the government as it had dithered on the CM
candidate. This delay caused it the government despite having the people’s mandate. The Congress Party too is caught in a flux over its CM candidate as two powerful contenders Digambar Kamat (former CM) and Michael Lobo (who had joined the Congress Party from the BJP
before the 2022 Assembly polls) are in the big fight. Sources told Outlook that Lobo, a former minister, has emerged as a strong contender to CM’s chair if the Congress Party comes into power. Lobo has already taken the initiative and started negotiations with independents contesting the polls
and like-minded parties to support the Congress Party for post-poll alliances. Lobo has also gone to Delhi and met interim party president Sonia Gandhi and discussed the modalities of government formation.
Outgoing CM Sawant is facing a tough challenge to win the Sanquelim constituency as his opponent from the Congress Party Dharmesh Saglani is indirectly being helped by those not in favour of Samant’s return to the gaddi. With this uncertainty taking centre stage, the CM aspirations of many BJP leaders is rearing its head. It is common knowledge that Health minister Vishwajit Rane has been eying the chair. In fact, the buzz is that he is keen on seeing Sawant defeated. Deputy CM Babu Kavlekar has openly announced his intentions to succeed Sawant, if the BJP comes to power. The other contenders include Shripad Naik, Dayanand Mandrekar and Laxmikant Parsekar – former CM who has contested as an Independent after the BJP refused to field him in the elections. Though the BJP went to the polls under the stewardship of Sawant, it is unlikely that they may continue him,
given the sentiment – amongst the public and within the BJP – against him. MGP leader Sudin Dhavlikar is also keen on donning the CM’s hat. Though in a pre-poll alliance with the TMC, talk is that the MGP may support the BJP. However, this time the MGP wants the CM’s post, irrespective of the number of seats they win, said sources. “Dhavlikar has made it clear that he will support any party that will make him the CM for a rotational period of 2.5 years,” said the source. Though political fluidity and party hopping are a given in Goa, in the 2022 Assembly polls about 60 per cent of the sitting Legislative Assembly have defected to political parties other than the ones they have been elected from. Public anger was the ruling sentiment in the polls and it will be interesting to watch the numbers of defectors who will be elected back to the Legislative Assembly.