Panaji: Newly elected legislators of the Congress were seen arguing loudly this morning, while senior party leader Digvijaya Singh tried to calm them down. The legislators are angry that their party leadership - read general secretary in-charge of Goa Digvijaya Singh - did not act fast enough to rope in the support of regional parties to add just four seats that the party needed to form government. At least three legislators or MLAs have reportedly threatened to quit the party accusing "seniors" of mismanagement.
In election results announced on the weekend, the Congress had won the most seats, 17, though it was short of a majority. In the time taken by the party to select a new leader, the BJP, with 13 seats, had moved very fast to negotiate with and secure the support of smaller parties and independents to stake claim to form government.
While the Congress moved the Supreme Court against Governor Mridula Sinha inviting the BJP first, its legislators are in private comparing Digvijaya Singh to union Minister Nitin Gadkari, the BJP's national leader in-charge of Goa. Unfavourably.
Vishwajit P Rane, Congress MLA and the Leader of Opposition in the outgoing Goa assembly, told NDTV, "I think there was total mismanagement by the leadership." Mr Rane, seen as a frontrunner for Chief Minister, asserted that the people had given the Congress the mandate to form the government, but the party lost the opportunity "because of foolishness of our leaders".
He had stormed out of a Congress legislature meeting and has hinted he is contemplating quitting the party. "A lot of thoughts are coming in my mind. Sometimes I just feel that I am in the wrong party," said Mr Rane, who is the son of Goa's five-time Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane. "There is a lot of pressure on me by all my MLAs supporting me to act but I am only holding back because of my leader Mrs Sonia Gandhi," he added.
Another Congress legislator Jennifer Monserrate said, "It is miserable and horrible... people trusted the Congress and voted for us... we get a clear 17 seats and we still couldn't manage to form government...we are the laughing stock."
Digvijaya Singh, who met the Governor this afternoon along with the Congress' 17 legislators, has alleged that the party had written to Ms Sinha and sought to meet her on Sunday but "she did not give us an appointment." He has said that as "single largest party, Governor should have invited us. But even before hearing us out, Governor invited Parrikar."
The Congress has said that it too has the support needed to form government.
In a setback for the party, which moved the Supreme Court against the BJP being invited to form government despite winning fewer seats in the assembly elections, the court allowed Manohar Parrikar's swearing-in today and has asked him to take a trust vote on Thursday.
Mr Parrikar had met the Governor on Sunday evening to stake claim to form government after which she invited him to take oath as Goa Chief Minister. Mr Parrikar said he had the support of regional parties the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or MGP and Goa Forward and also two independents to help the BJP across the 21-seat majority mark.