Digvijaya stopped state Congress leadership from staking claim, says Goa Cong chief Luizinho Faleiro
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Luizinho Faleiro has refuted claims that the party’s state unit leadership failed to form the government in the coastal state.
Party’s state unit chief Luizinho Faleiro on Friday said that the central leadership, especially AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh and KC Venugopal, be held responsible for the failure to form a government despite winning far more seats than BJP.
Faleiro, who took over as Congress president in Goa two years ago, said that it was Digvijaya who suggested that Congress should wait till Goa Governor Mridula Sinha invited it to form the government.
"As per procedure, I had a letter drafted for the Governor to inform her that we would be staking claim to form the government, but I was told by Singh that as per convention, the Governor would call us. So we waited," Faleiro said.
He said that on the night of March 11, the day results were announced, independent MLA from Porvorim, Rohan Khaunte, and NCP MLA from Benaulim, Churchill Alemao, had extended support to Congress. Besides, two more independent MLAs were in touch with the state leadership.
"We had 21 MLAs with us on March 11th night, but we didn't have their signatures. Venugopal and Singh were empowered to discuss and take decisions. I would not like to cast blame but yes, I feel we should have taken a decision that night," Faleiro said.
He said that that Digvijaya along with the other leaders were reluctant to stake claim to form the government until Goa Forward Party (GFP) came on board.
Faleiro noted that the GFP was never in favour of an alliance with Congress because it had a pre-poll alliance with BJP.
"It was decided by our general secretary and by our leaders in Delhi that we should not go ahead without GFP," Faleiro said.
Digvijaya, on his part, however, said that there was no delay in electing the Congress Legislature Party leader and accused the Governor of ‘acting against the Constitution’.
"There was no delay in electing a leader (of the Congress Legislature Party) in Goa. By 3.30 pm (on March 12), we had decided on our leader and were trying to contact Vijay Sardesai (of Goa Forward party), who had promised support to us at midnight (the intervening night of March 11 and 12). He (Sardesai) had set certain conditions, we had agreed to them and I had even made him contact Rahul Gandhi at midnight. After we elected our leader, we contacted him, but by that time, he had had dealings with Nitin Gadkari," Singh told reporters outside Parliament on Friday.
Alleging that the Goa Governor had acted against the Constitution, he said, "The Sarkaria Commission guidelines state that the single largest party should be given the first opportunity to form the government, and if it can't (form the government), then the second option should be exercised."
Sinha has drawn flak from the Congress for inviting the BJP to form the government in Goa, despite the saffron party winning only 13 of the 40 seats against the Congress' 17. The saffron party stitched a post-poll alliance with the Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, NCP and a few Independent MLAs to form government in Goa. BJP's Manohar Parrikar was sworn-in as the Chief Minister, who proved his majority in the Assembly on March 16.