'Maha-like experiment needed in Goa to oust BJP'

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant (PTI Photo)

The winds of political change in Maharashtra wafted into Goa on Friday with Opposition political parties, barring the Congress, responding positively to Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut’s call for a unified coalition against the BJP-led Pramod Sawant government. 

On Friday, a day after Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray was sworn in as the chief minister of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government supported by the Congress and the Nationalist Congress party (NCP), Raut claimed another "miracle" would follow in Goa soon. 

"The Shiv Sena is in touch with the Goa Forward party and other MLAs. A separate front will be formed to take on the BJP. The Congress will also be with us,” Raut told reporters in Mumbai on Friday morning, a development which triggered a flurry of activity in Goa, where the BJP currently has a visibly secure 27 party MLAs and the support of two independent MLAs in the 40-member Assembly. 

The lone NCP MLA Churchill Alemao has also formally supported the Sawant dispensation on various occasions during past legislative sessions. 

Vijai Sardesai, the president of the Goa Forward — which has three MLAs — was with Raut in Mumbai when the latter made the announcement. 

Later in a video message, Sardesai said that "the need of the hour" was to form a common political platform to take on the "anti-people" government led by Sawant. 

Sardesai, a former deputy chief minister, was sacked from the Sawant government in July. While he is a member of the Opposition benches in the Assembly, Sardesai’s party continues to be a part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance’s nationwide network. 

The Shiv Sena, on the other hand, has virtually no network in Goa despite being in the political fray for the last 30 years, during which the party has not returned a single MLA to the Assembly. 

But Raut’s call for stitching up an alliance has solicited response from another former BJP ally, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which is now out in the cold. 

"We have received a call from Sanjay Raut. Let him come forward with the proposal and a common minimum programme," MGP's only MLA Sudin Dhavalikar said. 

The Congress, however, has chosen to play it cool in its response to Raut's overture. “What is he proposing? A political alliance or a legislative alliance? Let him spell out his plan further,” Goa Congress spokesperson Trajano D’Mello told DH. 

D’Mello also questioned the need for a common platform with partners who helped to foist an "illegitimate" government led by the BJP on the people of Goa. "Those who did that first are complaining now because they have been thrown out," he said. 

Currently, the BJP has 27 MLAs and two supporting Independent MLAs. The Opposition benches are occupied by the Congress (5), Goa Forward (3), MGP (1) and one Independent. The lone NCP MLA's preference for the treasury or Opposition benches in the Assembly is unclear.

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