With Goa throwing up a fractured mandate, leaders of smaller parties, who have turned kingmakers, have turned cautious even as both the Congress and the BJP desperately woo them….reports Asian Lite News
The Congress won 17 seats in the 40-member assembly and the ruling BJP 13 seats, a gain and loss of eight seats for each party respectively, when compared to their 2012 performance.
But it is the leaders of parties with fewer seats who are being sought by the Congress and the BJP, especially elected representatives of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward, which have three seats each.
MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar said coalition talks would have to wait.
“We will have to strategise. How can we jump into anything? Coalition talks will happen in their own time,” Dhavalikar said, even as political sources told that the MGP leadership, including Dhavalikar, was in touch with both Congress and BJP leaders.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, a former Goa Chief Minister, told the media on Saturday that he was in touch with leaders of regional parties in the hope of cobbling together a coalition.
Sudin Dhavalikar and his brother Deepak were ministers in the BJP-led coalition government for a good part of the last five years but were sacked by Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar two months before the February 4 polls were announced after both brothers criticised his leadership.
Goa Forward may have contested the election on an anti-BJP plank but on Thursday its founder member and Fatorda MLA Vijai Sardesai surprised many when he praised the leadership of Parrikar as Chief Minister of Goa.
After the results were announced on Saturday, the party’s President Prabhakar Timble, however, said that all doors were open for Goa Forward as far as being a part of a coalition was concerned.
Interestingly, Timble also claimed that the Congress had backstabbed his party by first promising an alliance with Goa Forward and then backing out from the arrangement on the eve of the polls.
Meanwhile, lone Nationalist Congress Party MLA Churchill Alemao, who has been a part of a Congress-led coalition government from 2007-12, has said he was keen to be a part of a government.
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh on Saturday told reporters that Alemao was not averse to joining a Congress-led coalition.
Of the three independent legislators, Rohan Khaunte has said he would back the Congress, if it staked claim to form a government.
“They have supported me during the election. I will go with the Congress,” he said.
Independent Govind Gawde said that since the BJP supported him in his campaign, he would be backing the saffron party.
The third independent, Prasad Gaonkar, has been tight-lipped.
Uncertainty looms large on government formation in Manipur although the ruling Congress is the single largest party in the new assembly with 28 seats.
Independent candidate Ashab Uddin, who is yet to announce his support for any party, is likely to play a vital role in the formation of the new government.
Ashab Uddin won from Jiribam defeating Thoudam Debendra Singh of the Congress by 1,650 votes.
Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy said on Sunday that his party would support the Congress.
In the results declared on Saturday, the Congress got 28 seats in the 60-member assembly while 21 seats went to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Until now, the BJP had just two seats.
The Naga People’s Front (NPF), the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) are constituents of the BJP-led alliance and are most likely to support the BJP in government formation.
If they do that, the BJP grouping’s tally will go up to 30, just one short for a simple majority.
Nagaland Chief Minister Shurhozelie Liezietsu said in Kohima that his NPF, which has four legislators, would support the BJP. The NPF has sent a letter to the Governor.
The NPP also has four members and the LJP one member.
The Congress is three seats short of a majority.
BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav, in charge of the Northeast, is camping in Imphal to supervise the numbers game.
Congress Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh had a brief meeting on Saturday night with the Governor.
Ram Madhav contended that the verdict of the people was against the Congress and that with the support of the like-minded smaller parties the BJP would form the next ministry.
He, however, declined to give a time frame saying the party shall stake claim as and when it has “enough numbers”.
Congress sources said Ibobi was in touch with the National People’s Party. While the Congress needs just three MLAs to stake claim to power, the BJP needs at least 10 MLAs.
According to party sources, Congress leaders will again call on Governor Najma Heptulla soon to stake claim to form the government.
“Being the single largest party, the Congress should be given the first chance,” a Congress leader said.
Bharatiya Janata Party leaders do not agree.
Party spokesperson Nongthombam Biren Singh, being considered as the Chief Ministerial candidate, said: “Democracy is a game of numbers. We have the majority with the support of like-minded parties. We will stake claim shortly.”
Nongthombam Biren Singh won from Heingang defeating Trinamool Congress’ Pangeijam Saratchandra Singh.
In the just concluded election, the BJP got 36.3 per cent of valid votes while the Congress secured 35.1 per cent.