Panaji, Oct 30: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s absence has created a political leadership vacuum in the state, with several leaders in the BJP as well as the ruling coalition parties eyeing the top political position.A meeting between state Congress president Girish Chodankar and former Chief Minister and disgruntled BJP leader Laxmikant Parsekar has triggered political speculation in Goa, especially with the state likely to see two Assembly by-polls soon.
The BJP earlier this month was forced to induct two Congress MLAs into the party and get them to resign from legislatorship, so as to bring the legislative strength on par with the Congress with 14 MLAs in the state Assembly, which currently has 38 MLAs.
The Congress party on Monday sparked off a storm saying ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who has not been seen in public since October 14, may be no more. The Bharatiya Janata Party reacted sharply and said the statement was a result of Congress frustration.
When asked about his meeting with Parsekar, who has publicly threatened to defeat Dayanand Sopte, a now former Congress MLA who was inducted into the BJP two weeks back and is likely to contest a by-poll from his Mandrem assembly constituency, Chodankar said: “I have been meeting lots of people because our ultimate target is to fulfil the wishes of the people of Goa. Ever since these two MLAs have resigned, there is tremendous anger in the people of Goa… We are ready to work with anyone who is ready to defeat them (BJP).”
On Sunday, Chodankar met Parsekar, where sources said the two discussed ways and means to defeat Sopte in the yet-to-be-scheduled Mandrem by-poll.
Parsekar has already claimed that he was meeting political leaders from across the spectrum because he has shared a healthy relationship with them. “I am opposed to their ideology. But that does not mean I can’t meet them,” he said.
Sopte, who was elected to the state Assembly on a Congress ticket from Mandrem — a seat formerly represented by Parsekar — resigned as an MLA and from the Congress party before joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) amid drama.
Parsekar, who served as CM from 2014-17, has already slammed the state BJP leadership of trying to “finish him” and has openly threatened to work against the party to defeat Sopte as and when the Assembly by-polls are held.
Parrikar is currently being treated for advanced pancreatic cancer has been in an out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, New York and Delhi.