Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar won the trust vote in the Goa assembly, with 22 MLAs supporting his government. The Congress got the support of 16 legislators. It was a comedy of sorts as apart from being the single largest party, the Congress failed to stake a claim and was reduced to checking toilets of the Goa Assembly for one of its missing MLAs, who later resigned from the party.
Parrikar, whose BJP heads a coalition government with a slim majority, was sworn in as Chief Minister of the coastal state for the fourth time on Tuesday.
Parrikar, who is not a legislator and is a Rajya Sabha member, moved a one-line motion of confidence, after which pro-tem Speaker Sidharth Kunkolienkar asked those in favour of the motion to stand up.
The pro-tem Speaker overruled Opposition member Pratapsingh Rane’s efforts to raise a point of order related to the appointment of a junior member of the assembly as pro-tem Speaker.
The 22 MLAs who supported the motion were those of the Bharatiya Janata Party (minus the pro-tem Speaker), three each of Goa Forward and MGP, three Independents and Nationalist Congress Party MLA Churchill Alemao.
Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane, who over the last few days had been accusing the Congress leadership of squandering away chances of forming a government in the state, was not present during the voting.
Rane later told reporters outside the assembly complex that he was not happy with the functioning of the Congress and would be quitting it soon.
“I have been complaining about the functioning of the Congress. No one is paying attention. I will be quitting the party soon,” Rane said.
When Parrikar was asked to react to Rane going missing during the trust vote, he said: “Why are you asking me, ask him.”
The Congress has alleged that the BJP-led coalition government was legitimate.
“They have bought over MLAs. They have not allowed us to speak in the assembly or discuss the motion, they have even foisted a Speaker who formerly was reporting to Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister in 2012.
“There is no legitimacy for this government,” Congress spokesperson and MLA Aleixo Reginaldo said.
The former Defence Minister later told reporters that portfolios to the 10-member cabinet would be announced on Saturday.
“Expansion of the cabinet will be done after the budget session is over. The budget session will begin on March 22,” Parrikar said.
Thursday’s trust vote was ordered by the Supreme Court following a petition by the Congress which alleged that Goa Governor Mridula Sinha had played a partisan role in inviting the BJP to form a government although the Congress was the single largest party with 17 MLAs in the 40-member assembly.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Vishwajit Rane resigned from the Congress and the assembly, shortly after he went missing during a trust vote in the House.
Rane told reporters that he had submitted his resignation to the Speaker’s office and it had been accepted.
“I have been told by my party workers and constituents to resign from the Congress, which meant I had to resign as MLA, too,” Rane said.
Over the last few days, Rane had been accusing the Congress leadership, including state president Luizinho Faleiro and Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, of sabotaging the party’s attempts to come to power, though the Congress had emerged as the single-largest party in the February 4 polls.
“If Vice President Rahul Gandhi does not intervene and act against such non-performers, then Congressmen like me from across India will also resign from the party,” Rane said.
Rane’s father, Pratapsingh Rane, is also a Congress legislator and a former Chief Minister. Responding to Rane’s allegations, Singh had claimed that the MLA was in touch with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Ironically, it was the Congress and not the Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar-led government, which seemed desperate not to lose face, during the floor test.
The principal opposition, whose actions after the March 11 vote-count have been marked by disarray and chaos, almost went into hyper-mode looking for its “missing” legislator Vishwajit Rane, even checking the toilets in the state assembly complex to trace him, seconds before the trust vote, which was eventually won by Parrikar 22-16.
“We did not know how and when he (Rane) disappeared. We do not know where he is. One moment he was perfectly ok, smiling, chatting with us. He also took oath as MLA, but just before the confidence motion was moved, he disappeared,” Congress Legislature Party leader Chandrakant Kavlekar said.
“We checked everywhere, in the lobbies, in the washrooms, in the passages. Rane was nowhere to be found,” Kavlekar said soon after the party failed to come up with numbers to beat the BJP in the trust vote.
Kavlekar also said that he had asked Rane’s father, also a sitting Congress legislator from Poriem, about his son’s whereabouts, but he too was unsure.
“We do not know the reasons for his disappearance. Whether it was a health problem or a personal problem. We could not contact him,” he said.
Rane’s disappearance from the vote count embarrassed the Congress, which had claimed that it had the numbers to form a government in Goa.
Eventually, during the trust vote, the Congress, which was the single largest party with 17 lawmakers, not only could not pull Independent legislators and allies to its side, it could not even retain its own flock, with Rane playing truant.
Rane, the Valpoi legislator, subsequently later told reporters, that he was disillusioned with the Congress party and had submitted his resignation to the Speaker as well as to the Congress leadership.
“And the manner in which things are going on in the Congress and the poor manner with which the general secretaries are handling it, aggressive leaders like me, will quit the Congress across the country. The Congress central leadership should discuss and act against them (overseers),” he said. (IANS)