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
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.
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