While the Congress is accusing the BJP of “subverting democracy” and “nullifying people’s mandate” by staking claim to form new governments in Manipur and Goa before it could do so as the single-largest party, many, within and outside the Congress, are questioning its own failure to seize the opportunity.
Despite winning the most number of seats in both the states — 28 in 60-member Manipur Assembly and 17 in 40-member Goa Assembly — the Congress failed to form the government in any of the states.
In Goa, the Congress was outsmarted by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won only 13 seats, but managed to cobble a majority by garnering the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP) with three lawmakers each and two of the three elected Independent MLAs.
In the meanwhile, the leaders of the Congress were busy squabbling over the choice of it’s legislative party leader.
The Congress leaders, including party general secretary Digvijaya Singh and top state politicians, camped at the iconic Mandovi hotel in Panaji, where for five hours they wrangled over the choice of the CLP leader, apart from waiting for Vijai Sardesai of the GFP and other Independents.
The Congress’ state unit president Luizinho Faleiro, former Chief Ministers Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane, were potential candidates for the post, but each camp and their proxies rejected each other, wasting precious time.
There was even a secret ballot to select the CLP leader — an exercise results of which were incidentally kept a secret from the media and the party’s junior MLAs.
By the evening, frustrated Congress leaders stepped out of the hotel, with Taleigao MLA Jennifer Monserrate even blaming the party’s “Delhi leaders” for losing the opportunity to select a CLP leader and forge a ruling coalition.
Vishwajit P. Rane, the Congress MLA from Valpoi and son of Pratapsingh Rane, had also announced that he was quitting the party. He blamed the party leaders for not moving fast and scuttling the Congress’ chances of forming the government in Goa.
He asked: “Nitin Gadkari could take the decision, why not our seniors?”
Digvijaya Singh had in the morning tweeted: We have been requesting Governor of Goa (Mridula Sinha) for appointment since March 12 night but were not given. Today (Tuesday) we sought appointment for 10:30 a.m., but she has given us time for 1.30 p.m.”
“She didn’t even meet the single-largest party elected by the people of Goa before calling Parrikar to take oath. Is it justice? Is it Constitutional? Doesn’t it violate the Sarkaria Commission guidelines? Is it Moral,” asked Singh.
Refusing to interfere with the Goa Governor’s decision to appoint Manohar Parrikar as the new Chief Minister, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that a floor test be held in the assembly on Thursday to determine if Parrikar enjoyed the majority support.
Parrikar was sworn in as the Goa Chief Minister for the fourth time on Tuesday by the Governor Mridula Sinha in state capital Panji. Nine ministers were also sworn in.
The Congress had accused Mridula of acting unilaterally and inviting the BJP to form a government in Goa, without even meeting the 17 elected leaders of the Congress.
Meanwhile, in Manipur, where the Congress ruled for three consecutive terms, despite winning 28 seats, just three seats short of the majority mark in the 60-member assembly, the party failed to form a government.
“Governor’s new role, first certify the majority of party who appoints them, later invite their leader to form government. Democracy Subverted,” Congress General Secretary in-charge of Manipur C.P. Joshi had tweeted.
“An MLA was abducted from the airport. The government is using all the machinery. We will fight the anti-democratic action of the government,” Joshi said on Monday.
The BJP, which won 21 seats, staked claim for form government with the support of four MLAs each of the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the National People’s Party (NPP), one MLA each of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and one Independent.
Nongthombam Biren will be sworn in as the first BJP Chief Minister of Manipur on Wednesday morning, according to Raj Bhavan sources.
He will be sworn-in at Raj Bhavan at 10.30 a.m., the sources said. Biren and one or two elected members may take oath.
Meanwhile, Congress leaders are keeping their fingers crossed. Former Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh, who tendered his resignation on Monday night, said: “We had staked our claim to form the next ministry.”
However, that hope is fading away as all other members of the non-Congress parties and the lone Independent MLA have extended support to the BJP.
Ibobi Singh had pinned his hope on the NPP, which has four MLAs. However, the NPP general secretary Vivekraj Wangkhem said, “We have extended support to the BJP and it is final.”
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singvi said: “Unfortunately the BJP is now becoming an expert in creating governments through Governors whereas government creation is the work of the people who vote.
“Government creation is neither for the Governor, nor for the Party to whom the Governor earlier belongs and still appears to be acting for. Therefore, this is a clear attempt to nullify peoples’ mandate,” he added. (IANS)