New Delhi: While single largest party the Congress bickered over who should be Goa Chief Minister, the BJP, with four seats less than the rival was busy contacting smaller parties and securing their support. Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, the BJP leader in-charge of Goa, met leaders of regional parties and Independent legislators at a five-star hotel and had signed them up by Sunday evening, a day after assembly election results were announced, to support a BJP-led government.
The potential allies wanted Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar as Chief Minister and Mr Gadkari had the top BJP leadership sign that off by Sunday evening. Mr Parrikar met the Goa Governor with letters of support from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or MGP, the Goa Forward and two Independents and was invited to form government. On Monday he announced he had resigned as the country's Defence Minister.
Man of the moment Nitin Gadkari described to NDTV the fast-paced developments that led to the invitation. "Immediately after the result, party president Amit Shah asked me to rush to Goa. I reached at midnight and called a meeting of our office bearers and leaders with Manohar Parrikar. At the same time we called leaders of different parties and independent members. There were a lot of problems in coming to the conclusion but the round of meetings took place up to 5 am on Sunday in the morning. And next day also we discussed," he said.
As the Congress cries foul saying it should have been given first chance at forming government as the single largest party with 17 seats, Mr Gadkari suggested that the rival party accept it has lost out. "The Congress was busy in Goa with five to six candidates claiming leadership. So they did not have time to discuss with alliance partners," Mr Gadkari said, describing as an "irresponsible statement" Congress leader P Chidambaram's allegation that the BJP "is stealing the elections in Goa."
"Immediately Manohar Parrikar sought an appointment with the Governor. While the Congress wasted its time in discussing who will be their leader, we had completed all the procedures and the Governor gave us the chance to prove our majority within 15 days of forming the government," Mr Gadkari added.
The alliance he has built has come together, the union minister said, "in the interest of Goa, for a stable government and for development." He has trashed the Congress' allegation that the BJP has "bought MLAs."
"In a democracy when you don't get victory, with sportsman spirit you have to accept your defeat. But the Congress is not ready to do that," the minister said.
Angry Congress legislators have accused their leader in-charge of Goa, Digvijaya Singh, of "mismanagement", comparing him unfavourably with Mr Gadkari, who acted so fast.
Goa has given a majority to no party. The Congress won 17 seats four short of the 21 needed in the 40-member assembly to form government. The BJP won 13, seven short. With the support of former ally MGP, the Goa Forward and two Independents it now has the support of 22.
Mr Parrikar, who will take oath as chief minister today, will have to prove those numbers in floor test in the assembly on Thursday.