BJP's poll-oriented outside support

| 25 August 1998 23:48 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party seems to be playing a shrewd game by not participating in the new coalition government led by Dr Wilfred de Souza but its four members supporting it "unconditionally" from outside in the 40-member House.

They have no plans on anvil to pull it down later. On the contrary, the BJP's central leadership has reportedly assured them to keep it in power till the ensuing Assembly elections, scheduled by November next year.

The BJP's national executive has fully endorsed the view taken by its local unit that neither their MLAs would take ministerial berths nor head any corporation or equally important posts in the government, a combination of de Souza's breakaway Congress group and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, besides the BJP and two independents.

The coalition plans to win at least 32 seats by facing elections as an united front, provided the BJP-led government continues ruling at the centre till the Goa Assembly polls are declared. The BJP however is eyeing for at least 10 MLAs to contest on the BJP ticket from the existing 24-member ruling coalition led by Dr de Souza..

Besides its four MLAs, the Sangh Parivar is trying to win over at least four ministers from the splinter Congress group, presently called the Goa Rajiv Congress, and two ministers from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, which has traditionally been a mixture of Hindutvawadi and socialist elements.

While toppling the Pratapsing Rane's Congress government on 29 July, the ruling combination had worked out an agenda for governance, which specifically mentions that members of the splinter Congress group are free to join either the BJP or the MGP.

Besides this, they have agreed upon giving tickets to all the sitting members and working out seat adjustments in other 17 constituencies.

But the BJP does not rely so much upon Catholic leaders like de Souza or tainted politicians like Dayanand Narvekar. "In fact, we would be happy if five among them are not with us while fighting next elections", says one BJP strategist.

Narvekar, who has been presently also sidelined by de Souza while allocating portfolios, has already begun exploring new options. His supporters have publicly requested him to join the BJP, though the hindutwavadis prefers to maintain safe distance from him.

The BJP, a non-entity till 1991 Lok Sabha polls, has suddenly sprung up as a major political force in the tiny state, after they got four of their MLAs elected by aligning with the MGP in '94 Assembly polls. In the recent Parliamentary elections, they lost to the Congress with a wafer-thin margin, while snatching away traditional votes of the Congress as well as the MGP.

Dr Willy, supposedly close to Sonia Gandhi, has however kept his options open to rejoin the Congress any moment. His breakaway group is also known as the Goa Rajiv Congress. "We still have high regards for Sonia as the leader", says the chief minister.

Shantaram Naik, the Goa PCC chief, however claims that the odd combination would collapse within a month. If not, the new coalition may prove fatal for the Congress, ending its decade-long rule. The Congress has already begun cracking up with groups of workers switching over to the de Souza group, including the whole state youth congress.

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