Made Defence Minister Resign, Won't Betray Him: BJP Ally Vijai Sardesai

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Vijai Sardesai said that they support the BJP.


Panaji: 

Highlights

  1. Manohar Parrikar quit as Defence Minister, is now Goa Chief Minister
  2. Won trust vote this morning with help from new ally Vijay Sardesai
  3. Got Defence Minister to resign, wont back-stab him: Sardesai
Manohar Parrikar, who resigned over the weekend as Defence Minister, won his trust vote today to remain Goa's new Chief Minister.

The BJP and its allies had 22 votes, one more than needed.  The Congress and its supporters won 16; in damage for the party, Congress legislator Vishwasjit Rane walked out during the vote.

Mr Parrikar, who took oath on Tuesday, would set a record as "a 48-hour Chief Minister", the Congress had proclaimed, a prophecy that few believed.

Goa has 40 seats. No party won a majority when the results were declared. The Congress had the most: 17. The BJP won 13, but hit the gas to pull ahead of the Congress in quickly securing the must-have support of two regional parties. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party or MGP was relatively easy to round up - it was an ally of the BJP till before last month's election. The prize catch was Goa Forward, which won three seats and is headed by Vijai Sardesai, who, in the past, has hurled darts at Mr Parrikar for political incompetence, but is now a member of his cabinet.

"We are strongly with the BJP," said Mr Sardesai ahead of today's vote, alleging that the Congress had sent him feelers to change his mind. "We have got a Defence Minister of India to resign and come down (to Goa). How can we backstab him?" he asked, as if treachery in politics is a rare commodity.

"Goa first and forward," said Mr Parrikar after his victory, in word play with Mr Sardesai's party's name.

Mr Parrikar was sought as Chief Minister not just by the BJP's newly-elected legislators, but also by the regional parties, who made his leadership a prerequisite for their support. The Congress asked the Supreme Court to stop Mr Parrikar from taking oath till a trust vote was held and claimed that Governor Mridula Sinha had erred by asking the BJP to form the government despite the fact that the Congress had more seats.

The Supreme Court's response, like that of the BJP, amounted to "you snooze, you lose." The Congress, shepherded by Digvijaya Singh, squandered precious time arguing about who its next Chief Minister would be instead of making an all-out effort to win Mr Sardesai, with whom Mr Singh's negotiations were reportedly ho-hum. Several Congress legislators in Goa have criticised Mr Singh for being asleep at the wheel; leaders in Delhi have also spoken angrily about "a lost opportunity in Goa."

Meanwhile, Mr Parrikar's cabinet of nine has two BJP ministers - the other portfolios have been distributed among its new allies and independents.


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