Congress stakes claim to form govt in Goa

Porvorim: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar at the state assembly in Porvorim, Goa on Jan 31, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Panaji (IANS) On a day when reports suggested that ailing Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's condition has worsened, the Congress in Goa on Saturday staked claim to form the government in the coastal state.

In a letter addressed to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said that the Parrikar-led coalition government is in a minority and its numbers may "dwindle". 

He demanded that she dismiss the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led dispensation and invite the Congress -- the single-largest party in the state Assembly -- to form the government.

"Consequent upon the sad demise of Francis D'Souza, MLA, who belonged to the BJP, it is humbly submitted that the incumbent BJP-led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, which has long lost the trust of the people and now also lost strength in the House," Kavlekar said in the letter.

"Also, we anticipate that numbers of the BJP may further dwindle," he wrote to the Governor requesting that such minority government be not allowed to continue even for a moment. 

"It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to dismiss the state government led by the BJP to ensure that the Indian National Congress, which is the single-largest party in the august House and is presently enjoying the majority, be called to form government," Kavlekar said.

Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) was forced to issue a statement claiming that the health of Parrikar, who is being treated at his private residence for advanced pancreatic cancer, is "stable", after media reports said that his health conditions has worsened.

Sources requesting anonymity told IANS that Parrikar's blood pressure had dropped considerably on Saturday morning.

Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York ever since.

After the death of former Deputy Chief Minister Francis D'Souza on February 14 this year, the BJP's tally in the state Legislative Assembly has come down to 13, while the Congress has 14 MLAs in the House. 

Last year, two Congress MLAs had quit the party and their membership of the House to join the BJP.

Although the Goa Assembly has 40 seats, three seats are currently lying vacant.

Speaking to IANS on condition of anonymity, a Congress legislator said that the ailing Parrikar is unable to move owing to his ill-health, and his inability to attend the Assembly session in case a no-confidence vote is facilitated by the Governor, would further deplete the BJP's strength in the state Assembly to 36.

"This gives further advantage to the Congress in case of voting during the passing of a no-confidence motion. We have 14 MLAs, while the BJP will effectively have 12, with Parrikar ill. We are already in touch with ruling coalition allies to convince them to quit the BJP-led front and join a Congress-led coalition government," the Congress MLA said.

The BJP-led coalition government currently has the support of 12 BJP MLAs, plus three lawmakers each from two regional parties, namely Goa Forward and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, one MLA from the National Congress Party and two Independent legislators.

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