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BJP Goa Conundrum: Who will replace Parrikar as CM?

BJP in Goa today has carved a niche for itself in the state on the leadership and political astuteness of one man – Manohar Parrikar.

Parrikar is a symbol of a strong, non-corrupt and decisive leadership. Even the main opposition leaders in Congress at State and National-level admire and respect him.

He rose to ranks of the Defence Minister of the country and relinquished that position to guide the sinking ship of BJP in Goa.

Unfortunately for him, BJP and the people of Goa, his health is playing a spoilsport. Though his commitment to his job as Chief Minister has been unquestionable even in the thick of his illness; the functioning of the government has slowed down due to the inability of the government and BJP leadership ability to take effective decisions without Parrikar.

This fact has been highlighted by its alliance partner Goa Forward Party (GFP’s) President Vijai Sardesai – who is also a Minister in the government and BJP’s own senior leaders in the state.

In fact today some members of the Core Committee of BJP in Goa have requested for a meeting with BJP National President Amit Shah to discuss alternative arrangements to the functioning of the government in Goa in the absence of Parrikar.

Parrikar who was admitted to Lilavati Hospital earlier this week, left for the US once again for treatment and is expected to be there for over a month.

Parrikar had only just returned from a medical check-up in the US on August 22nd, when he went there post the Goa Assembly session but he developed some health-related complications a few days later in Goa and he has now gone back to the US.

In the conundrum surrounding Parrikar’s failing health; government functioning and key decision making processes have slowed down and in some cases almost come to a standstill.

So while the debate on whether Parrikar should step down and focus on his health, recover and then come back in full force, will continue. The biggest challenge posing BJP in Goa and at the Centre is who will take the place of Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister of Goa.

When Parrikar moved to Delhi to don the mantle of the Defence Minister of the country, the choice left to BJP for the Chief Minister position was Shripad Naik, Laxmikant Parsekar and Rajendra Arlekar. At that point of time ideally BJP should have selected either Shripad Naik or Rajendra Arlekar but Parrikar chose Parsekar.

While as an individual Parsekar was an amiable man and as a politician as considerate one; he did not perform to the expectations of the people of Goa and BJP lost a strong footing that was clearly display during the State Assembly elections. Some in BJP opine that Parsekar was not competent enough to be CM. Others opine that Parsekar was a mere puppet in the hand of Parrikar, so in actuality Parsekar’s failure was Parrikar’s failure.

BJP on its own is not in majority in Goa and has formed the party on the basis of an alliance. The magnet to the alliance of MGP and GFP with BJP was none other that Parrikar himself. The alliance partner terms were clear, bring Parrikar back as CM, we will support BJP.

Now also, both MGP and GFP will play a crucial role in deciding the CM of Goa, if Parrikar has to stay away on account of his health.

According to me, it is unfortunate that BJP has put all its eggs in one-basket – Parrikar – and not allowed any other leadership to emerge in Goa. But what choice did they have. While it has worked for BJP over the years, now it will prove to be fatal for survival.

BJPs choices are clearly between Shripad Naik and Rajendra Arlekar. But in Goa it is not the obvious political choice that is followed but the known business choice that is followed. The business lobby will decide the CM. It mostly has for the last decade in Goa.

If Parrikar wants to continue as a ‘puppet master’ then neither Shripad Naik nor Rajendra Arlekar will become Chief Minister because these two leaders do not require the crutch of Parrikar to stand and be decisive. Most importantly Parrikar does not like anyone challenging his authority.

But if BJP sees the real problem of leadership and wants a long term solution that is not driven by petty business based politics which unfortunately is deep-rooted in caste-based politics, then it will chose either of the two. If not then it will chose one that Parrikar favours and can control.

If Parrikar is retired due to ill-health as CM; the player that will emerge out in the open will be Vijai Sardesai of GFP. He is probably the only political leader that can turn this entire change in guard situation to his favour and come out triumphant. If he choses either of the two Shripad Naik or Rajendra Arlekar – then there is strong chance of them winning.

There are talks of giving the mantle to Sudin Dhavlikar of the MGP but if BJP even ventures in this territory it will upset its own cadre of Karyakartas. Dhavlikar brothers will form government with any political party; they have no ideology other than the fact that they have to be in governance.

Congress can cease the opportunity and create an upset but unfortunately they cannot get their house together to act decisively. In fact some senior Congress leaders are happy that Parrikar is CM because they have developed a tacit understanding with him on several issues especially on their legal cases.

It is time Amit Shah steps into the game in Goa and takes matters into his own hand. He needs to take a firm decision now in the interest of Goa and BJP. BJP has been losing its strong footing in Goa. If Lok Sabha election were to conducted today, South Goa LS seat would have been lost by BJP. Even North Goa LS seat is getting shaky.

BJP needs to be build new leadership in Goa.

I pray Parrikar recovers and gets back into action. But it will be unfair on me and any other Goan to demand so much from Parrikar. He has given his best to this state. We must be considerate to his current health concerns and allow him his time get better and not pressurise him with the burden of the vagaries of politics for now.

Savio Rodrigues

Savio Rodrigues Founder & Editor-in-Chief GoaChronicle.com

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