Hung assembly in Goa; Congress to stake claim for govt today, BJP hopeful of regional parties’ support

Congress has emerged as the single largest party in Goa election results with 17 seats in 40-member Assembly.
Congress' Nilakanth Halarankar celebrates his win... Source: PTI
India TV Politics Desk Panaji 12 Mar 2017, 10:46 AM IST

The Congress on Saturday emerged as the single largest party in Goa, relegating the incumbent Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to the second position in Assembly polls which threw up a hung house with both parties hoping to form the new government.

The Congress won 17 seats in the 40-member house, while the BJP bagged 13. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the independents won three seats each, while the NCP bagged one. In the last polls, the BJP had won 21 seats and the Congress nine.

Enthused by the results, the Congress held a series of meetings to fine-tune its post-poll strategy and stake claim to form the government, with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar too saying that the BJP remains in the race.

The Congress said it would seek support from like-minded parties to muster a majority and form the next government. 

"We will not mind approaching like-minded parties such as Goa Forward if we require additional numbers to form the next government," AICC general secretary in-charge of Goa affairs Digvijay Singh told reporters here. 

The party has the support of Rohan Khaunte, an independent who has won, but it will have to take on-board either GFP or MGP to reach to the magical figure of 21 needed to prove majority in the House. It is also reaching out to the lone NCP winner Churchill Alemao to shore up numbers.

Party sources said three former CMs - Digambar Kamat, Pratapsinh Rane and Luizinho Faleiro - are in the race for the top job. Singh said the newly-elected MLAs will choose their leader tomorrow and meet Governor Mridula Sinha to stake claim for government formation.

"We will stake our claim with the Governor as soon as election of the Congress legislative party leader is over. We hope to submit our list tomorrow (Sunday) sometime in the afternoon to the Governor," Singh told a press conference in Panaji yesterday.

He also said that he along with Congress leader K. Venugopal had been authorised by the party high command to initiate discussions with non-BJP MLAs and convince them to join a Congress-led alliance.

"Venugopal and myself have been authorised to talk to non BJP MLAs to get their support. We would be talking to them. Bottom line is, there would be no compromise on the basic core issues of our election manifesto," Singh also said.

BJP hopes to form govt in Goa

Despite suffering loss, including a defeat to sitting Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, the BJP has not lost hope of coming back to power with Parrikar asserting that the party is in the "best position" to form the government and it could do so by roping in smaller parties. 

Goa has been a politically volatile state where several chief ministers in the past have seen abrupt end to their tenures.

"In the situation of a fractured mandate, everyone is in the race to form the government. We are also there. If BJP acts like a core group and brings together smaller parties, we can still give a stable government," Parrikar said.

"BJP is in the best position to form the government, I am confident of getting necessary support from others," the former Goa chief minister said.

Chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar, who bit the dust in Mandrem, submitted his resignation to Governor Mridula Sinha after his party finished way behind the simple majority mark.

Besides the humiliating defeat of Parsekar, who lost by over 7,000 votes, six BJP ministers, too, were trounced.

Speaking about the poor performance of his party, Parrikar said, "It is personal individual incumbency factor that affected the party's victory in several constituencies." 

He reasoned that being a state with smaller constituencies, a thousand votes can make a difference. 

He pointed out that despite having poor show in terms of numbers, the party has increased its voting share, which is five per cent more than the votes polled by the Congress. 

Parrikar, who spearheaded the party's campaign in the state, said all the leaders share responsibility for the poor performance. 

"We don't pass on the buck. Everyone individually accepts the responsibility of reduction in the number of legislators," he said. 

Parrikar added that the BJP has grown in Goa and has the capacity to rise from the existing number of 13 legislators to ultimate majority in the elections to come.

MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar said his party is yet to decide on post-poll tie-up. "We are yet to decide on alliance. We will inform the media as and when it is decided."

GFP leader Vijai Sardesai said the party will not take any decision in a hurry. "We will take all our MLAs and party executive in confidence before deciding on any alliance."

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