M A I N   N E W S

Goa Govt reduced to minority, Congress stakes claim
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 29
The Manohar Parrikar government in Goa was reduced to a minority with four of its MLAs resigning from the party and two others withdrawing support today.

Atanasio “Babush” Monserrate, who was divested of his Town and Country Planning portfolio by the Chief Minister on corruption charges on Thursday, along with MLAs Isidore Fernandes, Pandurang Madkaikar and Mickey Pachecho resigned from the legislature, reducing the BJP to just 17 members in the 40-member Assembly.

Joining them were Public Works Department Minister Sudhin Dhavlikar of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Water Resources Minister Philip Neri Rodrigues (Independent).

Pachecho had joined the BJP only two days ago by merging his United Goans Democratic Party (Secular) with it. Isidore Fernandes had resigned as Congress Party MLA and won his Poinguinium seat as a BJP candidate just three months ago.

Under the new anti-defection law, all four MLAs who quit the BJP will have to contest afresh. They are likely to contest on Congress ticket.

The opposition Congress with 15 MLAs in the House embarked on a show of support before Governor S.C. Jamir. Led by AICC General Secretary Margaret Alva, the party paraded all six MLAs in addition to the lone Nationalist Congress Party legislator, Dr Wilfred de Souza, before the Governor to prove that the BJP had lost its majority in the House.

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, however, insisted that he was very much in control. “Nobody has resigned from my ministry,” Parrikar told mediapersons in his chamber.

Assembly Speaker Vishwas Sattarkar (BJP) also added that no resignations were received by his office since the legislature was closed for the weekend.

Both Parrikar and Sattarkar insisted on a trial of strength on the floor of the House.

The Congress has however insisted that the Governor should use his discretion and invite its leader to form the government. The party has also demanded the placing of the Assembly under suspended animation to prevent horse-trading and intimidation by Parrikar.

Determined to thwart such a move, Parrikar is citing Supreme Court judgements which ruled that show of strength could only take place on the floor of the House. MLA and party president Rajendra Arlekar further accused Governor Jamir, a former Congress Chief Minister from Meghalaya, of playing politics in Goa.

“He is personally intimidating BJP MLAs and asking them to resign from the Assembly,” Arlekar told mediapersons.

New Delhi: The BJP today maintained that the resignation of its MLAs in Goa would have no impact on the stability of the 32-month-old Manohar Parrikar government.

The “power hungry” Congress after failing to secure the people’s mandate in the elections was now engaged in its “old toppling game”, BJP Vice President M.A. Naqvi said reacting to the political developments there.

According to party sources, if needed, BJP General Secretary in charge of Goa Pramod Mahajan, who is campaigning for Bihar and Jharkhand poll, will fly down to the state.

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