As this has pushed the Congress into a minority of mere nine (excluding the speaker) in the 40-member House, a fresh proposal has been mooted to readmit all the 16 defectors back into the party fold eventually, while beginning the process by supporting th

| 14 August 2000 23:03 IST

With the Francisco Sardinha-led coalition government nearing nine months, labour pains appear to have begun to give birth to a new baby (read as new government), though the ones who doctored it in November claim that it is a 'false alarm'.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, Sardinha's coalition partner, has demanded that revenue minister Mauvin Godinho be dropped from the cabinet. They feel he is going from bad to worst rather than improving.

"Mauvin was never our choice when we initially gave our consent to the list of ministers from Sardinha's splinter Congress group", says Manohar Parrikar, the BJP legislature leader. In spite of this, he was accommodated last minute.

The 10-member saffron party joined the coalition after Sardinha split along with 10 of his Congress colleagues by toppling the Luizinho Faleiro-led Congress government within four months. All the 11 defectors were then made ministers, while the BJP has only three.

The demand of dropping Mauvin, one of the most tainted politician in Goa, was made by all the three ministers along with their leader Parrikar, who has remained out of the cabinet. "I cannot ignore the demand", Sardinha told this correspondent today.

The chief minister however is not sure whether it would mean dropping him or merely stripping him of his revenue portfolio. "I have not applied my mind", he claims while the BJP appears to determined to get him out of the cabinet.

What led to make the demand suddenly was the decision taken by the revenue department to abolish the Shantadurga temple committee in Bicholim (North Goa) and shift the idol of Shantadurga from the old 'math' situated in the market place to the temple, against the wishes of local traders.

Spurt of violent actions like closing down the shops and stoning the state-run public transport created a tense situation in Bicholim town, ultimately compelling the authorities to shift back the idol back to the original place the next day.

"The government should not interfere with such religious matters but leave it to the court to settle it", feels Parrikar. But Mauvin refutes it, claiming that he has not interfered with religious matter but acted within the purview of the law.

Parrikar points out at many other incidents in the past like allowing an illegal petrol pump on a highway and trying to demolish houses of poor people built in evacuees property, which shows that "he has not improved". The BJP leader had in fact exposed the shady deal the minister was involved in a private power project during his last term.

"I have faced many such plots to dislodge me in the past and am confident that I will overcome this too", states Mauvin. He has expressed full confidence in Sardinha's leadership, hoping that he would take a collective and wise decision.

While assuring to take a decision as soon as possible after discussing with all his coalition colleagues together, Sardinha however dismisses the possibility of the demand smelting of any move to dislodge his government. "I will take a decision which would keep the coalition running smoothly", he says.

Though Parrikar also feels that action against one person cannot decide fate of the government, sources close to the BJP disclose that all is not well in the government. In fact news has been making rounds for over a month now that the BJP is thinking of an alternative while the 'powerless' Congress in the opposition is also exploring several combinations by approaching the groups within Sardinha's party as well as the BJP.

The politicians defect from one party to the other here like tourists roam on the beaches, since 1990. After witnessing seven chief ministers in the seventh Assembly till 1994, the eighth Assembly ended with a President's Rule after forming three defection-based governments. The ninth one has already witnessed two governments in four months while the third toppling cannot be ruled out, keeping up the 'tradition'.

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