Goa political crisis: trial of strength Monday

By Frederick Noronha, IANS

Panaji : The six-week-old Congress-led government in Goa lost majority Thursday after five legislators withdrew support, but managed to postpone a trial of strength on the floor of the assembly to Monday even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed a alliance and staked its claim to form the government.

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Two MLAs of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and two independent MLAs withdrew support to the government of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, while Congress MLA Victoria 'Mummy' Fernandes resigned her seat Thursday, bringing the number of ruling party legislators to 19 in what is now a 39-member assembly.

The BJP – which has 14 MLAs – said that it had the support of the two MGP legislators, one MLA from the United Goans Democratic Party, two from the Save Goa Front and one independent. BJP leader and former chief minister Manohar Parrikar staked claim to form the government.

There was high drama in the assembly Thursday as the government failed to get a financial bill passed and the opposition immediately demanded the resignation of the chief minister. This led to a ruckus, amid which the speaker adjourned the assembly to Monday, saving the government till then.

Goa Governor S.C. Jamir was in New Delhi Thursday, which also helped Chief Minister Kamat, as Parrikar could not immediately take his flock of MLAs for a parade before the governor.

Kamat said he was ready for a test of strength on the floor of the house, which indicates that Goa is in for intense political horse-trading over the next three days.

The current Goa government took office June 8 after the election June 2. The Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) combine got 19 seats and the BJP 14 in the 40-seat assembly. Smaller parties and independents, who played king makers, are playing a major role again.

Goa has had 13 chief ministers and three stints of President's Rule since 1990, compared to three chief ministers between 1963 and 1990. Ambitious local politicians and various big lobbies acting behind the scenes have been responsible for the chronic political instability.

Party labels mean little in Goa politics, with individual egos and communal or caste loyalties being more significant than ideology.

Goan expat communities had foreseen Thursday's political drama and had flooded the cyberspace from Monday with discussions on various permutations and combinations and who would assume power.