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14 Mar 2017

Big one in belly but BJP is insatiable

Manohar Parrikar and (right) Biren Singh
TT, March 13: The biggest bite of them all has not just failed to satiate the BJP but has left it even more ravenous.
Both in Goa and Manipur, where the BJP has ended up as the runner-up after the elections, the party is sparing no effort to assume power.
The gluttonous craving stood out in sharp contrast with the grand vision of a "New India" Narendra Modi had conjured up yesterday while celebrating the BJP's Assembly poll performance that was marked by the spectacular victory in Uttar Pradesh.
BJP leader Manohar Parrikar has resigned as defence minister and is preparing to be sworn in as Goa chief minister for the third time tomorrow with the help of new fair-weather friends.
The Congress, battling charges of stupor in spite of emerging as the single-largest party by winning 17 seats in the 40-member House, has moved the Supreme Court against governor Mridula Sinha's invitation to Parrikar. The BJP has won only 13 seats but it appears to have managed the support of eight more MLAs from elsewhere.
Since today was a court holiday because of Holi, the counsel for the Congress rushed to the home of the Chief Justice of India this evening and sought an urgent hearing on the petition challenging the governor's decision not to call the single-largest party first.
Goa Congress leader Chandrakant Kavlekar has requested the court to stay Parrikar's oath-taking ceremony tomorrow. The Chief Justice listed the matter for an urgent hearing at 10.30am on Tuesday.
Parrikar staked claim after the BJP enlisted the support of the three MLAs each of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), besides two Independents.
The Congress had been hopeful of securing the support of the GFP as the latter had fought the elections on an anti-BJP rhetoric. While the Congress was electing its state legislature party leader, the BJP garnered the support of the MGP, GFP and the Independent MLAs.
"Money power has won over people's power. I apologise to the people of Goa as we couldn't muster the support to form the govt," Digvijaya Singh, the AICC minder for Goa, tweeted.
Digvijaya has drawn criticism from within the Congress for not being proactive enough to pre-empt the BJP. But there was private acknowledgement that the cash-rich and muscular BJP would be able to outmanoeuvre any Congress offer in a state that had seen considerable political instability between 1990 and 2005.
"Certain senior leaders should be hanged, those who scuttled the demands of the GFP," a Congress MLA said.
The GFP is apparently divided over the decision of its three MLAs to go with the BJP. GFP president Prabhakar Timble has resigned from the post in protest.
"A party that comes second has no right to form the government. The BJP stealing elections in Goa and Manipur," tweeted senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram.
What makes the BJP operation in Goa more questionable than its push in Manipur is that in Panaji, the sitting BJP government has been voted out unequivocally. The outgoing chief minister and five sitting ministers of Goa lost the election and the BJP is down to 13 MLAs from 21. Although there is no clear mandate for the Congress, the electorate had spoken against the BJP in Goa.
In Manipur, Nongthomgbam Biren Singh has staked claim to form the government after he was elected the leader of the BJP legislature party.
The Congress has emerged as the single-largest party in Manipur, too, bagging 28 seats in the 60-member House, or three short of majority.
The BJP has won 21. But Biren Singh submitted a list of 31, including nine from three other parties and an Independent. The lone Trinamul MLA is with the Congress.
CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury wondered: "Are the governments being sworn in in Goa and Manipur really what the voters voted for?"

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