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Goa BJP slips into 'Congress mode'; indecision continues over Parrikar replacement
Goa BJP slips into 'Congress mode'; indecision continues over Parrikar replacement

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Mayabhushan Nagvenkar

Panaji, Sep 22 (IANS) Indecision, a signature trait of the Congress party in Goa over the last few decades, appears to have rubbed off on Goa BJP now, as the party appears to be struggling to find an alternative to ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is currently fighting a battle against advanced pancreatic cancer in Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

It was indecision which in 2017 had put paid to the Congress's hopes of installing their Chief Minister, even after the party emerged as the single-largest party in the 40-member Goa Legislative Assembly, while it was some swift footwork by the BJP, especially senior leader Nitin Gadkari, who cobbled together a coalition in a sundown-to-sunrise high-powered networking blitz.

This time around it appears that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a party associated with quick and firm decisions, especially in the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah era, appears to be faltering on this count as far as Goa is concerned.

After tinkering with the idea of inviting one of the two alliance partners -- Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party -- to merge within the BJP and offering one of their senior leaders chief ministership, the possibility stands ruled out after stiff opposition from within the party.

Senior party leaders told BJP's national general secretary in-charge of organisational affairs Ram Lal at a meeting last week that dissolving the state Assembly was a preferable option to inviting non-BJP leaders to lead a BJP-led ruling dispensation.

"It is a short-term solution which could lead to long-term problems within the party. We need a solution within the party or we should seek a fresh mandate by dissolving the Assembly," a state BJP core team member told IANS.

Interestingly, another strategy which was being toyed with by Parrikar, before he was rushed to AIIMS on the explicit instructions of BJP national President Amit Shah, was to offer MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar with a deputy chief ministership with the power to officiate as CM, which was opposed by the other ally Goa Forward's Vijai Sardesai.

While Parrikar is undergoing treatment at AIIMS, his compulsive political antennae is still ticking.

The CM, BJP sources said, has put his foot down on an option most favoured by the party's old guard, as well as some Central leaders, to bring back his party peer and arch-rival Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik back to state politics and head the government.

Naik is one of the most popular "bahujan samaj" (a non-Brahmin caste collective) leaders in Goa and is considered as the best bet within the BJP to attract the Hindu non-Brahmin caste votes in the upcoming elections to the Lok Sabha, which the party has alienated from in the recent past, due to the pro-Brahmin perception of the Parrikar-led dispensation, in which all key portfolios are retained by Brahmin leaders.

The forever reluctant Naik has, however, been chided for lacking initiative in his political career, especially when it came to countering Parrikar's growing influence in the Goa BJP over decades at the expense of his own.

Even as the BJP grapples to deal with the vacuum generated by Parrikar's absence, it almost appears to have borrowed a page from Tamil Nadu politics by appearing to have opted to continue with a severely ailing Parrikar at the helm, just in the manner J. Jayalalitha continued to be the CM despite several weeks of hospitalisation.

However, irrespective of a sluggishness of the BJP to arrive at a decision at this crucial juncture, life appears to have not changed much for the Congress from its messy 2017 government formation debacle, where the party was panned for its slackness.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Congress central observer A. Chellakumar said that the party was not in a hurry to form a government in Goa, even though Congress leaders insist they have the numbers to cobble up a majority.

"I am not in a hurry. I am telling very clearly. I am not in a hurry. Congress party is not in a hurry to form government by compromising the interest of the people," he said.

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Update: 22-September-2018

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