Goa gets new CM, and instability

With the swearing-in of Pramod Sawant as the new Chief Minister of Goa, the BJP has found a successor for Manohar Parrikar, but it will not be easy to fill the vacuum caused by the death of the popular leader. Parrikar was not only popular among the people but was also able to hold together a difficult coalition of demanding allies. Goa was not ideal ground for the BJP, but Parrikar managed to build the party there partly because of his personal qualities and partly because he avoided hardline Hindutva positions. In a state with a dominant Christian minority and a sizeable Muslim population, only a politics of accommodation and compromise would have worked. Parrikar’s image as a simple, man of the people leader with a modern technologist’s qualifications and outlook helped him to gain acceptability, though he had an RSS background. The fact that other parties were ready to support the BJP after the 2017 assembly elections only if he was chief minister and that he continued to be the chief minister even when he was debilitated by illness for over a year shows how essential Parrikar was to the state’s BJP-led coalition scheme. 

The delay in the swearing-in of the new chief minister, which took place at the unearthly hour of 2 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday is an indication of the challenges the BJP and Pramod Sawant, who was until a day earlier the Speaker of the Goa assembly, will face in the coming days. It is a sign of how hard the allies may have bargained. The two allies, the Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and the Goa Forward Party (GFP), have managed to wrest a deputy chief minister’s post each, and will look for the most coveted portfolios. The BJP, which has only 12 members in a House with an effective strength currently of 36, is precariously dependent on the two parties and each of its members. The result of the Lok Sabha elections may impact politics in the state, and the by-elections to four vacant assembly seats may change the composition of the House. 

The Congress remains the largest party in the assembly and had staked its claim to form the government. It was outsmarted by the BJP in 2017 and its claim was not accepted this time. The political situation may, however, have opened up now, in spite of the new government coming in. Goa was once known for political opportunism and governmental instability, and the permissive political culture is still alive. Its impact gets magnified in a state with a small assembly of 40 members, where even one MLA can make or break a government. 

 

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Goa gets new CM, and instability

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