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The various political combinations of Goa and why India may lose its Defence Minister

The next 24 to 48 hours will be extremely exciting in Goan Politics. The Goa elections threw up a fractured mandate, with Congress on 17, BJP on 13, MGP on 3, GFP on 3, NCP on 1 and Independents with 3 on their side. The message to the BJP was analysed here, but it seems the BJP is still keen on forming the Government. In fact, looking at the speed of the BJP, it would appear that they have got the majority and the Congress has been rejected by the voters. A few scenarios may play out:

Scenario 1: BJP led Government

For this BJP (13) is said to be talking to MGP (3), GFP (3) and 2 independents. Getting the NCP and one more independent would be a bonus.

The MGP most recently allied with BJP to be part of the Government from 2012-2016. Before that they had allied with the Congress. Thus, they can swing both ways, but in the present scenario, have expressed desire to go with BJP. There can be 2 reasons: Firstly, MGP realises that they can make merry only with the BJP, since the BJP at the centre will ensure a steady flow of funds. Secondly, Union Minister and Goa observer Gadkari, is close to the MGP honcho Dhavlikar.

The GFP is made up of Congress-men. GFP and Congress were on the verge of allying for the elections, but some last-minute treachery by the Congress meant the deal was off. The skullduggery was allegedly done by Goa Congress Chief Luizinho Faleiro, who has very bad relations with GFP chief Sardesai. This could be one reason why GFP doesn’t want to go with the Congress. But unlike MGP, for the last five years GFP has been a staunch critic of the BJP. This ideological clash is the only thing stopping a BJP-GFP combine. The BJP is planning to nullify this by offering plum ministerial berths to all of GFP’s MLAs. The Congress may not be able to match this, since it has many senior leaders in its 17 which need to be rewarded.

Further, since Faleiro lead the Congress to 17 seats, he is lobbying to become the CM. This is most certainly not acceptable to GFP due to the aforesaid unsavoury episode.

The NCP is in reality run by the lone MLA Alemao, who has been notorious for jumping parties every now and then. Hence, conflating the Goa NCP with the national NCP would not be wise, and it should be understood that the Goa NCP is effectively functioning like an independent MLA.

In the midst of all this, the Goa BJP has passed a resolution demanding that Defence Parrikar Manohar Parrikar be sent back to Goa as the CM. Media also reports that the potential allies have also stated that they would come together only under Parrikar as CM.

Social media is abuzz with conspiracy theories that this could be a plan by defence lobbyists to send back Mr Clean Parrikar so that they can run riot at the centre. But the truth maybe something very boring: For weeks, if not months, Goa has been rife with speculation that Parrikar himself wants to come back. The rumours only got stronger in the run up to the elections, following Parrikar’s cryptic statements. It is an open secret that when he left Goa, he wasn’t very happy to leave his term as a CM of Goa with full majority midway, and that he prefers to be in his home state. Thus, this just might be a ploy by him, to get the local parties to “pull” him back from Delhi.

The BJP on its part has made various statements that talks are on with smaller parties, and if all goes well, within 24 hours, Goa will get another BJP Government.

Scenario 2: Congress led Government

The Congress seems to be very slow of the blocks inspite of being the single largest party. They are still talking among themselves and if media reports are to be believed, they haven’t formally started talking with potential allies. The reason for this is very clear: The Congress is not as much as a united party, as it is a collection of political heavyweights.

Because of this, the Congress is struggling to elect a leader amongst itself. Congress state chief Faleiro led the Congress to this position of strength from a very bad situation. Thus, he naturally feels he should be the CM choice. This would have been fine, but the most likely ally of the Congress, the GFP clearly has no intentions of being part of a Faleiro led Government. They in turn have asked for Former CM Digambar Kamat, who is close to the GFP supremo, to be brought back as CM.

The Congress also has to consider Former CM Pratapsingh Rane as a contender. He himself has ruled himself out, but his ambitious MLA son has prodded his father’s name. Also in the mix is another former CM Ravi Naik, who has emerged victorious after a hiatus of 5 years. Only once the Congress sorts this inner battle, can it approach allies.

Inspite of the quick moves by BJP to woe MGP and GFP, the Congress may still have the last laugh. Characters like the GFP cannot be trusted to be loyal. Till now, the GFP has not made any statement officially, and it may well be a ploy by the GFP to use BJP as a bargaining chip in its deals with the Congress. It should not surprise anyone if the GFP swerves to the Congress at the very last minute.

The Congress has 17 MLAs, plus it has an independent it had backed. Add to this the 3 GFP MLAs and they cross the magic half way mark figure of 20. Thus, irrespective of what the BJP says, until its signed, sealed and delivered, one cannot rule out a Congress Government.

Plan C

Unlikely, but in the magical state of Goa, one cannot rule out some dirty tricks. The MGP was earlier controlled by the Dhavlikar brothers. This time around only one of the two has emerged victorious, with 2 new MLA faces. The BJP can engineer these 2 MLAs to split and merge into the BJP. Improbable, but something similar can be tried with GFP also.

All in all, the next few days will be exciting.

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