The BJP’s central leadership is “seriously considering” a change in leadership in Goa and is deliberating over the names of state health minister Vishwajit Rane, assembly speaker Pramod Sawant and state unit president Vinay Tendulkar, a ruling coalition partner said Thursday.
Speaking to Hindustan Times after emerging from a meeting with Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah in the national capital, Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai said that the BJP central leadership has expressed its “commitment towards giving us the respect that they have in this alliance.”
“BJP leadership is seriously looking at the leadership issues and I have explained to him (Shah) the aspirations of the Goan people. In the current political scenario,” he said.
“There are some names that are being discussed… the speaker of the Goa assembly (Sawant), Vishwajit Rane, name of the party president (Tendulkar). These names are being discussed,” Sardesai added.
It was initially anticipated that the central BJP leadership would take advantage of the auspicious occasion of Dussehra to announce a fresh start for its alliance crippled by the absence of ailing chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
Sardesai said that the final decision could be arrived at “soon”. “It depends how this goes,” he said. The BJP was allegedly forced to look for alternatives after party workers and allies complained that continuing with Parrikar was affecting the administration.
Sawant is the only one among 14 BJP MLAs, barring Parrikar, who can claim to be a “true” party man, having risen up the ranks from the BJP’s youth wing. Among the BJP’s current MLAs, seven are Catholic, which may put them out of contention to lead the saffron party’s alliance.
Tendulkar is currently Goa’s lone Rajya Sabha MP besides being the state BJP president and a former MLA. The aspirations of Rane, who switched over from the Congress soon after the assembly polls last year, are being opposed within the BJP on grounds that it would be handing over the party to the “wrong hands.”
Right up to Wednesday evening, Tendulkar had denied that the BJP was reconsidering Parrikar’s leadership.
“Nobody has sought the leadership change. The 23 MLAs have said that they will support only if Manohar Parrikar is the chief minister, nobody has withdrawn support. All the 23 MLAs are with the BJP’s coalition. Names are in the papers. We read it from there. In the party, they are not discussed. But within a few days he (Parrikar) will be back up to speed,” Tendulkar had said.
BJP chief Amit Shah had one-on-one meetings with the alliance partners, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party, besides separate meetings with the BJP core committee members including Sawant and Tendulkar.
The two alliance partners had made Parrikar’s leadership conditional to their support to the alliance. However, now faced with the prospect of having to toe the BJP line or face mid-term polls, the alliance partners have softened their respective stances
With the BJP poaching two of its MLAs, the Congress is no longer the single largest party in the house. With the strength of the house coming down to 38, the BJP needs only another six MLAs to achieve a simple majority leaving it in a position to dictate terms to the MGP which had claimed that its leader Sudin Dhavalikar, being the senior-most, should be made leader.
The MGP has since softened its stance. “My demand was only at that time. Now they (BJP) are looking for a new chief minister. Let us wait and see,” MGP party president Deepak Dhavalikar said.
First Published: Oct 18, 2018 20:21 IST
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