Goa's BJP-led coalition government faces floor test

 Newly-appointed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant

Panaji (IANS) Newly-appointed Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who heads a BJP-led coalition government, will face a floor test to prove his dispensation's majority in the 36-member state legislative assembly on Wednesday.

While Sawant told reporters on Tuesday that he is "100 per cent confident" of winning the floor test, the Congress has refused to divulge its floor plan for the crucial one-day session of the state assembly, which was summoned by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha on Tuesday.

The one-point agenda of the session, which is scheduled to begin at 11.30 a.m., is to facilitate the trust vote that will be overseen by Acting Speaker and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Michael Lobo.

The BJP-led coalition comprises of 12 BJP MLAs, three MLAs each from Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as well as two Independent MLAs.

The Congress has 14 MLAs in the 36-member Assembly. One independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar was seen in both the BJP as well as Congress camps on Monday and has not clarified as to whether he supports the treasury or opposition benches. 

Lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Churchill Alemao had voted in favour of the previous BJP-led coalition government in 2017, but had participated in a press conference organised by the Congress party on Monday, amid the midnight government formation drama.

The 'magic number' for a simple majority in the 36-member House is 19.

According to Sawant he is confident of winning the vote.

"I am confident we will win the test," Sawant said earlier in the day," Sawant told reporters on Tuesday.

Interestingly, political sources said that one of the BJP MLAs Pandurang Madkaikar, who suffered a brain stroke in 2018 and has not made a public appearance since, is expected to be present in the state assembly.

"Despite his physically debilitating illness, we have convinced Madkaikar to attend the session on Wednesday as every vote is crucial," a BJP official said on condition of anonymity.

The BJP's anxiety to bring in a physically ailing Madkaikar for the floor test, could be indicative of some anxiety in its camp, especially since the party appears to have snubbed Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party supremo Sudin Dhavalikar, by not agreeing to several key demands, which includes three ministerial berths for its three MLAs and allotment of three major government corporations to its kitty.

Dhavalikar is a powerful local satrap and has ties across party lines, including with the Congress party, in whose coalition government he has served as a cabinet minister.

Meanwhile, the Congress, which had cried foul and accused Governor Mridula Sinha of being biased towards the BJP in the run-up to the government formation, is unwilling to drop hints about its floor strategy when the House meets in a few hours for the legislative test of numbers.

"Let's give the opportunity to legislators who are going to vote. If I tell you what the legislators are going to do tomorrow, I will be taking away their right... What is to be done in the assembly, I do not think I can predict it today," Chodankar said.

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