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Midnight coup
Congress set to lose Goa
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Leader of Opposition in Goa Assembly Manohar Parrikar talks to mediapersons after a meeting of coalition members in Goa on Thursday.
Leader of Opposition in Goa Assembly Manohar Parrikar talks to mediapersons after a meeting of coalition members in Goa on Thursday. PTI photo

Mumbai, July 26
After two days of suspense, the 49-day-old Digambar Kamat-led Congress government in Goa was reduced to a minority plunging the state into yet another round of political unstability.

Hours after Kamat claimed to have brought around the dissidents on Wednesday evening, his detractors staged a midnight coup reducing his government to a minority. Victoria Fernandes, the lone woman MLA in the House belonging to the Congress, resigned in protest at not being included in the Cabinet.

The two-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party which was part of the government and Independent MLA Anil Salgaocar, who backed the government from outside, changed sides virtually isolating Kamat's Congress and ally the Nationalist Congress Party. Minus Victoria, the Congress has 15 MLAs, including Speaker Pratapsinh Rane, the three-member Nationalist Congress Party and one Independent MLA, Vishwajit Rane supporting it.

On the other side is the BJP with 14 MLAs, two members each of the Save Goa Front and the MGP, the lone United Goans Democratic Party MLA and Independent MLA Anil Salgaocar. This group calling itself the Goa Democratic Alliance elected BJP leader Manohar Parrikar at its leader in the House. Parrikar has now staked claim to form the government.

Incidentally, Governor S.C Jamir is not in Goa and Fernandes had to fax her resignation as MLA to the Speaker, President, Prime Minister and Home Minister among others.

Earlier, Kamat had accused some real estate companies from Delhi that had cornered huge chunks of land in Goa of fomenting rebellion against his government.

Despite being reduced to a minority, the Kamat government by some deft floor management held its own in the Assembly which is in session.

When the demands were to be put to vote late this afternoon, Congress MLAs created a commotion urging that Fernandes' resignation should not be accepted and that she should be disqualified. Fernandes had stayed away from the House yesterday despite a whip being issued.

Speaker Rane first adjourned the House for an hour and when the commotion continued when the House reconvened, the Speaker adjourned it till Monday.

Parrikar was, however, confident that he would be able to form the government. "We have decided to form the government with the support of the other MLAs to ensure the development of Goa," Parrikar told reporters.

Though the new front has the support of just 20 MLAs in the 40-member House (reduced to 39 after Victoria's resignation), Parrikar was confident that his government would last the full term. Controversial UGDP MLA Babush Monserrate, who is backing the new formation, said more Congress MLAs would be resigning.

However, the Kamat camp said some of the defectors are already negotiating for their return. All eyes are on the Governor who is returning to Goa on Friday.

Constitutional experts who have been consulted by all parties in Goa were of the opinion that all cards are now in the Governor's hands.

He may ask Kamat to prove his majority on the floor of the House or invite the new front to form the government.

The third option would be for the Governor to place the Assembly in suspended animation since neither of the two groups are in a position to form a stable government, according to observers.

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