Ministers in the BJP-led Goa government put up a united face today by holding a review meeting against the backdrop of the Congress' claim that all is not well among the ruling allies in view of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar's absence from office due to ill health.
Interestingly, the Opposition Congress on Wednesday claimed that there is "discontent" among the members of the ruling BJP-led coalition and a "political earthquake" was expected soon in the coastal state.
The formal agenda of Thursday's review meeting was to expedite implementation of the budgetary proposals. However, a minister said they also wanted to send a message that the alliance partners are united and the government is stable.
Manohar Parrikar is currently undergoing treatment at AIIMS in Delhi for a pancreatic ailment.
The ministers of the BJP and allies Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and Independents attended the meeting held at the state secretariat in Panaji today morning.
This is for the first time since July this year that the state Cabinet ministers met jointly on a common agenda.
Mr Parrikar had last chaired a cabinet meeting in July before his hospitalisation.
The meeting was also attended by newly-inducted ministers Milind Naik and Nilesh Cabral -- who were given a formal welcome by their colleagues.
Mr Naik and Mr Cabral were inducted into the government Monday, after Manohar Parrikar effected a minor reshuffle of cabinet and dropped two ailing ministers of the BJP.
An MGP leader said the ministers Thursday resolved to hold a review meeting every Wednesday on implementation of the budgetary assurances given by the chief minister.
Manohar Parrikar used to hold the cabinet meeting every Wednesday before his health kept him away from office since February this year.
"Though Chief Minister is sick, we are working under his guidance. We would implement the assurances given by the government in the state budget (2018-19)," MGP minister Sudin Dhavalikar said.
He said the ministers would take stock of funds being allocated to every department and take up proposals accordingly in future meetings.
GFP Minister Vijai Sardesai said the meetings to be held every Wednesday are meant to ensure that good governance is delivered.
Vijai Sardesai said the ministers will decide short and long term goals of each department over the next four months and will make a presentation before the chief minister.
Mr Sardesai, who holds Agriculture portfolio, said Manohar Parrikar's absence will impact governance.
"We are here to reduce that impact. We would act like shock absorbers," he said.
Hinting at early Lok Sabha elections, the minister said, "We also have a situation where elections are going to be held and Model Code of Conduct to come into effect. This may happen in the next four months".
"The decision to hold the review meeting was not only to show our strength and unity but something else too....This government is stable. It is stable not only on the support of the MLAs of the coalition parters, but we have friends outside too," he said without elaborating.
Congress legislators in Goa had last week met Governor Mridula Sinha and demanded floor test by the BJP-led government to prove its majority in the Assembly, in view of Mr Parrikar's absence.
Vijai Sardesai said the ruling dispensation has numbers.
"We can show the numbers without poaching into anybody's camp," he said.
BJP minister Mauvin Godinho said stability is of paramount importance for any government.
"We wanted to convey that the government (is stable) and that it is a performing government. Everything that we are doing together is on the behalf of the chief minister," he said.
Mauvin Godinho said the opposition was raising sickness of the chief minister as it has no other issue against the government.
"The Opposition is trying to portray that the government is not functional, but we are a stable and performing government," the minister said.
In the 40-member Goa Assembly, the Congress has 16 seats, followed by the BJP (14).
Goa is being ruled by the BJP with the support of GFP (3), MGP (3), NCP (1) and Independents (3).