Congress Single Largest Party in Goa, But BJP Could Form the Govt

Former Congressman and GFP mentor Vijay Sardesai has emerged as the kingmaker. Who will he support? Congress or BJP?

After a decade of stable government by the Congress and then the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Goa is now back to instability – something it was infamous for. Although Goans have voted for a hung assembly, the Congress has better chances of forming the next government as far as arithmetic is concerned. But the BJP is confident that it can win over smaller parties and form the next government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, who is currently the Defence Minister of India.

How Can the Congress Form The Govt?

With 17 seats, the Congress has emerged as the single largest party in the Goa Assembly. Although it does not have a majority, it is better placed to reach the halfway mark. With the support of 1 Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) member, its tally reaches 18. It then needs the support of either the Goa Forward Party (GFP) or all three independents (17+1+3 = 21).

Vijay Sardesai, who is the Goa Forward Party (GFP) mentor, is a former Congressman. He was in touch with Digvijaya Singh, the Congress’ state in-charge, after elections were announced, but the Congress wasn’t interested in a pre-poll alliance. Sardesai’s campaign was against the BJP government, so the Congress is hoping that he will support the Congress’ bid.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Luizinho Faleiro on Saturday said the Congress is set to form the government, although he did not reveal whether it has approached the GFP. He said that the Congress was in touch with independents as well.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) couldn’t get a single seat, but with its 6.3% votes, it has damaged the Congress in South Goa. The Congress didn’t have a chief ministerial candidate. It was divided in various camps as it is elsewhere. But anti-incumbency and Catholic votes seem to have helped India’s Grand Old Party.

If the Congress forms the government with the help of independents, it will be an unstable government as the BJP can try to woo them.

Can Parrikar Be the Next CM?

Meanwhile, Parrikar, who had predicted 26 seats for the BJP, is refusing to concede defeat – saying the party is in talks with independents and smaller parties. His logic is that the BJP has the right to form the next government as it has got more votes with 32.5% compared to the Congress with 28.4%.

The only way, however, the BJP can form the government is garnering support from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the GFP and all independents (13+3+3+3 = 21). The MGP is a formal ally of the BJP – and has a record of allying with various parties to stay in power.

The GFP mentor may be a former Congressman, but he’s hurt with the way the Congress treated him before the state elections. Sources close to Sardesai told The Quint that he is considering the BJP’s offer. State BJP in-charge Nitin Gadkari is holding talks with leaders of the GFP, the MGP and independents.

The MGP – a former BJP ally – had got into an alliance with the RSS rebels this election. Together, they got 12.5% votes. They may have won only three seats, but the vote percent shows that they have damaged the BJP badly.

Parrikar stationed himself in Goa for almost three months, but he clearly couldn’t fight the Congress’s accusation that the BJP government was a ‘u-turn’ government that “went back on all promises”.

Two days before elections, Parrikar gave interviews to Konkani channels and clearly hinted that he’d return as the Goa chief minister if the BJP is re-elected. But even that lollipop couldn’t attract enough votes.