Manohar Parrikar wins Goa Assembly floor test with 22 in favour; trashes allegations of horse-trading

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The BJP-led coalition of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar won the crucial floor test in Goa Assembly on Thursday. Parrikar got the vote of trust from 22 MLAs, while 16 Congress MLAs opposed, 22 supported and one was absent during the floor test. Nationalist Congress Party’s Churchill Alemao voted in favour of the BJP government.

Addressing a press conference after coming back as the Goa chief minister for the fourth term, Parrikar started by taking a jibe at in-charge of Congress for Goa Digvijaya Singh. “The floor test had to be clear the speaker made us stand and the count was clear. We have won the floor test, debunking Digvijaya’s claim that they had the “magic” numbers. There was talk that Digvijaya has stepped down as desk in-charge. This happens when you come to Goa only to enjoy and not to work.”

When asked whether the BJP “bought” MLAs, Parrikar said, “There are wild allegations being made with coloured glasses. As you saw, everyone voluntarily came and voted. Nobody was kept in a hotel or secluded place. It is a government of coalition and decision in this regard will be taken by the coalition.”

When asked about his feelings on leaving the defence portfolio and coming back to head the state, the newly-appointed chief minister said, “It was need of the nation to go in central ministry then, so I went there and now prime minister felt I was needed here (Goa) so I came back.”

Congress leader Vishwajeet Rane, who was in news for the past couple of days for speaking out against the Congress leadership and blaming Digvijaya for the drubbing that the party recieved after the Assembly election, allegedly walked out of the Assembly when the trust vote was underway. When asked about Rane, Parrikar said, “I don’t want to comment on MLAs from other parties.”

“I have not cleared policy decision files yet. Though it is appropriate since the vote of confidence had to be complied with, not because I was under pressure.” Parrikar told reporters in Panaji that cabinet meeting has been scheduled for Friday. A full-fledged allotment of portfolios will take place in April, once the Budget session is completed, Parrikar added.

While the BJP won 13 seats in the 4 February elections, after votes were counted on 11 March, the saffron party leaders were quick off the block and garnered support of three MLAs each from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward (GF) as well as two Independent legislators, before meeting the Governor. One more Independent, Prasad Gaonkar from Sanguem constituency, joined the ruling coalition on Monday, taking its strength to 22, one more than the magic mark of 21 seats.

Sources in the Congress party told IANS on condition of anonymity, that the Congress leadership, which is being accused of acting sluggishly and thereby losing the opportunity to form the government, is now in contact with leaders from the MGP and GF, requesting them to switch over. The Congress needs only four more MLAs to reach the crucial mark.

Sinha on Sunday had granted Parrikar 15 days to prove his majority in the assembly, but the Supreme Court, which was hearing a petition filed by Congress legislative party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar, directed on Tuesday that the floor test should be held without delay on Thursday. The apex court ordered the vote of confidence following a petition by the Congress which alleged that Goa Governor Mridula Sinha had played a partisan role in inviting the BJP to form a government although the Congress was the single largest party with 17 MLAs in the 40-member Assembly. This was after BJP pulled a midnight coup, cobbled up numbers and staked claim to form the government in Goa.

Parrikar was sworn-in as the chief minister of Goa on Wednesday. Goa went to polls on 4 February and voted for a hung Assembly.

Vishwajeet Rane quits Congress

Rebel Congress party leader Vishwajit Rane has resigned from the party. Rane announced disassociation with the Congress party soon after the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP coalition government proved its majority in the floor test demanded by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. Rane did not clarify if he had quit the Goa assembly too, though resignation from the parent party would automatically result into his disqualification from the assembly under anti-defection laws.

Rane is son of former Goa chief minister Pratapsingh Rane. While Rane senior voted against the Parrikar government, Rane junior opted to walk out of the assembly soon after taking oath as its legislator. He was miffed at the manner the Congress party failed to form the government after emerging the single largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member Goa assembly in the just concluded elections.

He questioned the manner the party took two days to name its legislative party leader, giving the rival BJP enough time to stich up a post-poll coalition and stake claim to form the new government. Rane criticised Congress general secretary in-charge for Goa Digvijaya Singh saying he was acting as if he was one of the tourists in Goa.

Singh had earlier said Rane junior was in touch with Parrikar and had a meeting with him in a Goa hotel. Parrikar admitted to the meeting inn his press conference, saying being a small state, everyone knows everyone. It is not yet clear if Vishwajit Rane will join BJP or contest the resultant by-election as an independent. Probability of another three newly elected Congress legislators joining hands with him are high.

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