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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Status quo; Shripad, Tendulkar in fray

no immediate change in leadership BUT BOTH LEADERS get look-in from High Command; Modi, Shah discuss GOA imbroglio

20th September 2018, 03:19 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI

Bharatiya Janata Party’s central leadership on Wednesday  sought to buy time in its mission to resolve the leadership stalemate  plaguing its coalition government in Goa even as it is seriously looking  at its two MPs, Union Ayush Minister Shripad Naik and Rajya Sabha MP,  Vinay Tendulkar, as alternatives to Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.  

A decision to temporarily postpone effecting a change  immediately was taken at a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi  and BJP President Amit Shah, late on Wednesday night. The meeting was  also attended by Naik, Tendulkar and the third Goa MP, Narendra  Sawaikar.  

The Shripad Naik and Vinay Tendulkar options were first  discussed with the duo and Sawaikar at a Wednesday afternoon meeting  Shah had with the three in Delhi.  

Speaking to The Goan from Delhi, Naik confirmed the meeting  with the Prime Minister. He said, that for now it has been decided to  continue with the status-quo and an announcement in this regard will be  made in Goa by Tendulkar, who is also the State party president.  

Shripad Naik, on the other hand, had always been in the  zone of consideration, given his status as a leader of a stature  comparable to that of Parrikar, that the ruling coalition was in a  minority with Parrikar and two other cabinet ministers ailing.  

Tendulkar’s name for the coveted leadership role gained  currency on Tuesday after coalition partner Goa Forward Party and its  leader TCP Minister, Vijai Sardessai, who has flexed muscle by showed  more than eager support for the proposal.   

The move to float his name is said to have originated from  the camp of Parrikar himself. Support for Tendulkar was then drummed up  by the ailing Chief Minister’s lieutenants in the party.   

Tendulkar, a two-term MLA was hand-picked by Parrikar from  virtual political wilderness to head the party to stonewall a move to  anoint ex-Fatorda MLA Damu Naik during the last organizational  elections.   

He was then given the Rajya Sabha ticket again at Parrikar’s bidding and elected to the Upper House of Parliament last year.   

The soft-spoken leader however faces stiff opposition from  the Parrikar faction which holds the reins of the legislature as well as  the organisational wings of the party in Goa. He is also not supported  by the allies -- GFP, MGP and the three Independents -- and also suffers  from lack of administrative acumen and is also untested in the area of  politically managing a coalition.   

Naik enjoys pan-Goa popularity among party cadres, also  does not have any significant backing among party legislators. He hails  from the politically significant Bhandari community which could work to  his advantage, especially at a time when Parliamentary elections are due  in the first half of 2019.   

Over the last one week, the BJP Central leadership has been  struggling to resolve the crisis that errupted when Parrikar, seemingly  unilaterally, offered a leadership role to PWD Minister Sudin Dhavlikar  of ally MGP at a meeting with the allies in the private hospital he was  admitted to in Calangute last Friday.   

The unexpected development infuriated Sardessai who saw the  move not just as a slight from Parrikar but also as a threat to his own  ambition. He launched into a successful strategy to derail the move by  forming a new grouping of six MLAs from the coalition -- three MLAs  including himself of the GFP and the three Independent legislators.   

What added to the factors that scuttled Parrikar’s move to  annoint Dhavlikar was the fact that the chief minister had not kept the  state BJP’s core committee in the loop.   

The subsequent schisms in the ruling coalition forced the  BJP central leadership to depute a 3-member team of observers led by  party general secretary Ram Lal to assess the political situation and  explore leadership alternatives to Parrikar.   

 It was at the confabulations with the Central team that  Sardessai sprung the ‘Group of Six’ surprise and virtually scuttled the  move to anoint Dhavlikar. Political observers say the move also carried a  subtle warning to the BJP leadership that his group of six could  explore the option of joining hands with the Opposition Congress amid  the precarious number game in the House of 40.  

The development also encouraged the Congress to officially stake claim with the Governor, claiming   

With 16 MLAs, the Congress is the single-largest party in  the House. The BJP has 14 and three members each are from the  Sardesai-led GFP and Dhavlikar-led MGP. Three MLAs are Independents who  back the coalition and the lone NCP, MLA Churchill Alemao claims to be  “neutral” but has in the past voted both with the government and against  it.  

Parrikar, then, will continue as Chief Minister for now.  But it’s only a matter of time before a change is effected and the BJP  arrests its sliding popularity due to the governance paralysis.