Facing flak for Goa walkover, Digvijaya blames guv for mess

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Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who has been put on the defensive for failing to stitch together a coalition government in Goa even though the Congress had emerged as the largest party, has criticised Goa governor Mridula Sinha for acting against the constitution.

According to him, the leader of the Congress legislature party had been elected on March 12 afternoon, and Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party had promised support to the party. However, things changed after Sardesai “had dealings” with Nitin Gadkari of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The newly-elected BJP-led government of Manohar Parrikar, which won a floor test in the state assemblyon Thursday in keeping with a Supreme Court order, has the support of the Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, NCP and independents.

“There was no delay in electing a leader in Goa. By 3.30 pm (on March 12), we had decided on our leader and were trying to contact Vijay Sardesai, who had promised support to us. He had set certain conditions, we had agreed to them and I had even made him contact Rahul Gandhi at midnight. After we elected our leader, we contacted him, but by that time, he had had dealings with Nitin Gadkari,” said Singh, who is in charge of Goa.

On the role of the Goa Governor in the episode, he said the Sarkaria Commission guidelines made it clear that the single largest party should be given the first opportunity to form the government, and if it can't, then the second option should be exercised.

Singh’s defence comes against the backdrop of severe criticism faced by the party’s central leadership from the state unit for slipping up on what they believed was a chance to form the government. Among those who spoke out was Vishwajit Rane, who quit the party after being elected. He described what happened as a “blunder” by the Congress central leadership. He had claimed that the Goa Forward Party might have forged an alliance with the Congress had Digambar Kamat been chosen as the CLP leader.

"But, the party took time to discuss the proposal and lost out on the opportunity to form the government," Rane said. Meanwhile, referring to the Goa Governor's "psychologist" remark, Singh said, “Now, a new qualification for a Governor is that he or she should be a psychologist.” In an interview to a newspaper, Sinha had said she was a psychologist and had studied and analysed Parrikar and his supporters who had come to meet her.

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