The BJP, which came to power in Goa in 2017 for its fourth stint after some nifty coalition politics – with the help of two other parties and Independents — is currently in turmoil.
There are clear signs the BJP-led government is finding it difficult to function with chief minister Manohar Parrikar unwell and hospitalised in Mumbai’s Lilavati since February 15. There is no word from the hospital authorities or the state government on how long he will be there.
On Monday, the Goa state legislature was forced to curtail its month-long budget session to just four days. The government will, in the absence of Parrikar, who is also the finance minister, pass an interim or a vote-on-account budget for five months until the July monsoon session. Parrikar is also in charge of the general administration, personnel, home and vigilance departments.
The budget will be tabled by public works minister Sudhin Dhavalikar, number two in Parrikar’s cabinet and from the BJP’s ally, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
“We held the meeting of the Business Advisory Committee on Monday. It was decided that the budget session will be concluded in four days. The budget will be tabled on Thursday. The approval will be taken for a vote-on-account budget for the next five months. A discussion on the entire budget will be held in the monsoon session in June or July,’’ said Pramod Sawant, Speaker of the Goa assembly.
Parrikar is said to be suffering from ‘mild pancreatitis’ or swelling of the pancreas, but there are rumours that his illness is more serious. Political observers said by presenting an interim budget, the government has laid bare the uncertainty surrounding it. The bigger question that this raises is over the future of the BJP in the state without Parrikar in the lead.
“The onus of truth is on the BJP. If the ruling government is presenting a vote-on-account budget then there has to be a serious enough reason for it. Our best wishes are with the CM. But this reveals uncertainty about this government. What happens if for some reason Parrikar has to take a break or retire from politics? ’’ said a senior Congress leader who did not want to be named.
“Minus Parrikar, there is no BJP in Goa. BJP has not taken enough trouble to mentor a second-rung leadership in the state. Although Parrikar managed to form a coalition government, a majority of its senior ministers lost the election (in 2017 polls),’’ said Raju Naik, editor of Lokmat in Goa and a political analyst.
He added, “The minority and the Church are against the BJP. So the scenario is not favourable for the party. If, for some reason, he is no longer in active politics, the BJP is in serious trouble.’’
Of the 12 ministers in Parrikar’s current cabinet, five are from BJP, two from MGP, three from Goa Forward Party and two others are Independents. Also, at least two BJP ministers, Vishwajit Rane and Pandurang Madkaikar, are Congress turncoats, who joined the party just before polls.
The BJP’s two other senior faces include Union minister Shripad Naik and state chief and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar. Naik has been a CM-in-waiting for long, but critics say he has no safe constituency.
“Both Tendulkar and Naik will not have it easy. Naik is from the dominant Hindu community, Bhandari, that has some clout in the state so he may have a better chance if at all,’’ admitted a BJP minister, requesting anonymity.
“The BJP-led government is not going through any upheaval. Only the budget session has been shortened as the CM is not well. However, we believe the CM may be discharged by the end of this week,’’said Francis D’Souza, BJP minister for urban development.