The Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 14) refused to stay the swearing-in of Manohar Parrikar as the chief minister of Goa after the Congress moved the apex court to challenge state governor Mridula Sinha's decision to invite the BJP to form a government first.
The Congress finished as the largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member Assembly while the BJP could manage 13 seats – both tallies short of the required figure of 21.
The SC, besides refusing to entertain the Congress's plea, also said a floor test must be conducted on Thursday (March 16) and that Parrikar could take the oath as the CM on Tuesday evening itself.
The two-day time period, however, is being seen by both the Congress and BJP as a disadvantage to the other side.
In politics, chemistry is bigger than arithmetic
Arithmetically, the Congress can still hope that the BJP's plan to prove its majority in the Assembly will fall flat and 'justice' will eventually win. But politics is not only about arithmetic. Chemistry is an even bigger aspect.
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Though the Congress requires just four seats to return to power, as against the BJP's eight, the reality on the ground suggests that the latter could find it easier to accomplish its task.
The Congress failed to win faith of the MGP and GFP
The first reason is the Congress's failure in building a working relationship with the two regional parties – the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Goa Forward Party (GFP).
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On Sunday (March 12), a day after the results of the Assembly elections in five states came out, the MGP and GFP, both of which got three seats each, declared their intentions to back the BJP.
The responsibility for allowing such a situation to occur clearly falls on the Congress's shoulders. Being a national and senior party, the Congress's top brass had to be doubly proactive to ensure the BJP was kept away from power.
But its dilly-dallying with local outfits, even in the run-up to the election, proved costly at the end.
The party did not emerge from its slumber, even when the BJP was racing against time to make up the eight required seats. The frustration was clearly reflected in senior party leader Digvijay Singh's comments when he said the Congress should understand that the people of Goa have given it one last chance to perform or perish.
The availability of a ready-made leader in Manohar Parrikar helped the BJP
The MGP and GFP clearly understood that their dealings with the Congress would not go anywhere and hence decided to back the BJP.
While the MGP leadership was upset with the Congress's treatment of it before the elections, the GFP didn't like the Congress fielding candidates against it in three seats where its contestants stood, and went ahead to support the BJP despite its president Prabhakar Timble resigning in protest.
The BJP's job was made easier with the return of Parrikar, who was serving as defence minister, back to helm in the state. The Congress had no answer to this move.
After seeing Akhilesh Yadav, the local parties prefer to keep safe distance from Congress
The other reason why the Congress faced flak despite leading the tally is that regional parties have lost trust in its capacity, and find it less attractive as a partner than the BJP.
The example of Akhilesh Yadav, who sank without a trace after allying with Rahul Gandhi in UP, has boosted this belief.
In an age when the politics of the country has virtually been transformed into one-way traffic, there is really nothing much to gain by going against the flow. Small parties have much more to gain by siding with the dominant force of the day.
No matter how much the Congress cries foul and hopes that the BJP will fail to get its tally to 21 on the floor, one feels Parrikar has the leadership to prove the majority because times are with the BJP.
And if the saffron party indeed succeeds in proving the Congress wrong, then the Grand Old Party will witness another Titanic shipwreck on the beaches of Goa.
- Goa government formation by BJP: Supreme Court orders floor test on March 16 over Congress petition
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