The BJP is ready to retain Goa, despite placing second in the picturesque coastal state. There will be one major change if it forms the government: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will return to his home state as Chief Minister. Together with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, he held a long meeting on Sunday evening at a five-star hotel where the BJP efficiently collected the additional seven seats it needs from small regional parties. Mr Parrikar then met with Governor Mridula Sinha to stake claim and was invited to form the government. He will have to prove his majority in the assembly within 15 days of swearing in as Chief Minister.
Mr Gadkari earlier on Sunday had said that Mr Parrikar has not resigned yet as Defence Minister but Goa legislators want him as Chief Minister.
Goa has 40 seats. The Congress won the most – 17 – but not enough to form the government – the target is 21. The BJP, which is the incumbent, won 13. Its legislators met on Sunday morning and unanimously said they want Mr Parrikar to give up his job as Defence Minister to head their government.
So who forms the government depended heavily on regional parties. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or MGP is a former ally of the BJP (it opted out of the partnership right before the election). It won three seats and has said it will support the BJP if Mr Parrikar is selected by his party as head of the government.
Another regional party Goa Forward, which also won three seats, has provided its support in writing at the meeting on Sunday evening.
There are three independents who have been elected two of whom have promised support to the BJP, earning it the eight extra seats it needs for a majority.
Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar lost both the constituencies he fought – a sign, the Congress says, of the people’s firm rejection of the BJP.
Mr Parrikar, after taking over as Chief Minister, will have to get elected to the Goa legislature within six months. He will also have to prove his majority in the legislature.
The Congress’s Digvijaya Singh has accused the BJP of wooing defections and horse-trading. But he said that if the Congress does not get enough written support to hit 21 seats, it would “not like” to try and form the government.