Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s BJP government on Thursday won the vote of confidence in the Assembly with 22 votes. In addition to the 12 BJP MLAs, it was supported by three MLAs from the Goa Forward Party (GFP), three from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), three Independents and one from the NCP, excluding that of protem speaker Sidharth Kuncalienkar of the BJP. Sixteen members of Congress voted against the motion.
Mr. Parrikar’s coalition added one more MLA to its support when the lone Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Churchill Alemao voted for the government.
After winning the vote, a jubilant Mr. Parrikar said the Congress never had the numbers on its side.
He was flanked by GFP leader Vijai Sardesai and MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar, whose support sealed the deal in favour of the BJP.
Jolt to Congress
The Congress, the single largest party with 17 MLAs, suffered a jolt as its legislator Viswajit Rane resigned from the Assembly, after refusing to vote against the trust motion in defiance of the party whip. Viswajit, son of Congress veteran and former chief minister Pratap Sinh Rane, who was elected from Valpoi said he was also quitting the party.
Soon after all 39 MLAs were administered the oath of office by the protem speaker after the House assembled, Mr. Parrikar moved a one-line confidence motion. Mr Kuncolienkar rejected pleas of senior Congress leader Pratapsingh Rane to raise a point of order. The motion was then put to vote and voting was conducted by asking MLAs to stand in favour.
Later Mr. Kuncoliekar told The Hindu that vote count though declared by him on floor of the House was 22/16, the Legislative Secretariat will send the report to the Supreme Court by adding his vote thus taking the strength of the ruling coalition to 23.
Thursday’s session was convened specially for the Chief Minister to prove his majority as per the Supreme Court directive after the Congress had challenged the decision of Governor Mridula Sinha on Tuesday to induct Mr. Parrikar and his nine Cabinet Ministers.
The Court had asked the Governor to direct Chief Minister to hold a vote of confidence on Thursday as against her initial directive to the Chief Minister to hold the vote 15 days of assuming office.
The Congress had questioned Governor’s decision to appoint Mr. Parrikar as Chief Minister after he cobbled together a coalition comprising 13 BJP MLAs, three MLAs from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), three from the Goa Forward Party and three independents, adding up to 22 members of the 40-member House.
The Congress had pointed out that the BJP was defeated in the election and the number of its MLAs in the House reduced from 21 to 13 with several of its Ministers, including Chief Minister defeated in the February 4 elections. The Congress which had emerged as single largest party with 17 seats should have got the first invite from the Governor as per convention. It also claimed that given a chance it could form a government and prove the majority on the floor of the House.
The Chief Minister, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Lucknow, could not vote in Thursday’s proceedings.
Meanwhile, late on Thursday, Mr. Churchill Alemao was served a show-cause notice by the NCP Working Committee for violating party discipline and supporting the BJP without seeking the consent of the party leadership.
Cong. MLA defies whip, quits party
The beleaguered Congress in Goa on Thursday faced a major embarrassment on the floor of the House during the vote of confidence motion on the Manohar Parrikar government when its legislator Vishwajit Rane remained absent during the voting, reducing the Congress’ strength to 16.
Mr. Rane, who had defied party whip, later resigned from the Congress as well as an MLA. His resignation was promptly accepted by protem speaker Sidharth Kuncolienkar. Mr. Rane said he would contest again from Valpoi and support the Parrikar government.
Later in the evening, while speaking to reporters, Mr. Rane blamed Central leaders of the Congress party for failing to act swiftly to form the government by getting the small parties and independents on board.
Earlier in the House, when protem speaker Sidharth Kuncolienkar called out to members opposed to the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar to stand up, the Congress could muster only 16 votes as against its 17.
Mr. Rane, who had earlier taken oath as member of the House was absent from his seat during voting on the motion of confidence.
In the evening Mr. Rane met the presspersons and declared that he had resigned from the Congress party and also submitted his resignation as member of the House to the protem speaker. The speaker’s office confirmed the resignation which was accepted.
Mr. Rane said he decided to quit as MLA and also the Congress as it was not possible for him to remain in party after the fiasco in the name of government formation despite the Congress being the largest party after the February 4 election.
He blamed the party’s Central leaders for failing to act swiftly to form the government in Goa by getting the small parties and independents on board.
Asked whether he would join the Parrikar Ministry, he said it was up to the Chief Minister. Asked if he would contest on BJP ticket, he said it was not decided.