For well over 24 hours after the death of Manohar Parrikar, there was no government in the State.
Effectively, there was no administration. Though the Constitution is silent on the length of the period that a State can remain without a government in place, by convention a government is sworn in immediately after another falls, or if a chief minister resigns, the existing one holds office till a new one is appointed by the Governor. In the current situation, with the death of the chief minister, there was no government so for a brief while Goa descended into a phase of interregnum that lasted some 28 hours, which surely crosses the reasonable amount of time for government formation.
If the Constitution does not dwell on the subject of what is a reasonable amount of time during which a State can remain without a government it’s possibly because the founding fathers of the nation did not foresee a situation of the kind that played out in Goa between Sunday night and late Monday night. More than 24 hours after the death of Manohar Parrikar was announced, there was no replacement chief minister in sight, no new government. There was only political chaos that put to shame the very many other midnight trysts of Goan politicians who have jumped parties in the past.
The transition, despite the death of the chief minister, should have been seamless. The last Chief Minister of Goa to die in office was Dayanand Bandodkar. He died on August 12, 1973 and his successor Shashikala Kakodkar was appointed and sworn in as Chief Minister the same day. What delayed the new government taking office is the unabashed greed for power that was on display in the State.
By convention, there has to be a government in place, as a seat of power cannot remain empty. When there is no government there is no administration, there is a vacuum which is not meant to be. In midnight to dawn political meetings and in midnight swearing in ceremonies, Goa’s politicians have proved beyond doubt that what they hold above anything else is their political careers and not the wellbeing of the State. Did any of the politicians think of Goa, as they played their cards in this game of high stakes where the prize is the chief ministership of the State?
Obviously not, as Goa’s unique game of thrones was being played throughout the day, even as the body of the just departed chief minister lay in State, with National leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party who had arrived in the dead of night, hours after the death of the chief minister to select a successor, being forced to remain in the State making attempts to arrive at a consensus. In the meantime, Congress went to the Governor seeking to be invited to form the government by virtue of being the single largest party in the State Assembly and got no positive response.
In this game, it was the regional parties and the Independent MLAs who were the king makers. Two years back, they had demanded and brought back Parrikar from Delhi to Goa. Now the demands had changed, and weren’t as simple for the BJP to fulfill. And as they placed their cards on the table Goa waited to know who would be the next chief minister, who would lead the next government, the person who would extract it from the quagmire that the State has descended into.
This is not the kind of politics that Goa hopes for from the men and women it has elected to lead the State and the people. There has to be some measure of decorum in the manner in which the political leaders conduct their negotiations. Bargaining over positions and portfolios is not in the interest of the State.