PANJIM: While the Goan political scene shifted to Delhi on Thursday, BJP’s coalition partners – Goa Forward Party and Independents – remained in Goa with fingers crossed. It didn’t help them much as late night sources confirmed that except for Govind Gaude, all other ministers from among the alliance partners would be dropped to accommodate the new entrants.
Facing the axe from the cabinet are Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte, Housing Minister Jayesh Salgaonkar and WRD Minister Vinod Paliencar. The only non-BJP MLA in the safe zone is Govind Gawade, who would be rewarded for his efforts to get Subhash Shirodkar elected during the recently held Shiroda by-election, and as he represents the influential Gakuvedh (Gawda, Kunbi, Velip, Dhangar) communities.
Sources confirmed this, though Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant from Delhi said, “The decision on the coalition partners will be taken once we are back in Goa.”
Earlier in the day, Sardesai during a media interaction in Margao said, “I continue to be in the NDA which is a fact and my role in forming this government cannot be erased by the political upheaval. That role and our membership of the NDA is also there. It is for the senior partner to tell us the status of this existence.”
A senior BJP leader on the condition of anonymity said that a formula of retaining Sardesai while dropping his ministers –Salgaonkar and Paliencar – was discussed, but some of the new entrants were against it.
Former Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar has staked claim for Deputy Chief Minister’s post and sought all the departments that Sardesai held.
“CM was very upset with the manner in which GFP leaders and Khaunte acted during the Lok Sabha election and by-elections. They were nowhere to be seen. Everything had triggered at that point,” a senior BJP person said. “Also, the new G-10 is against retaining Vijai in the cabinet,” sources said.
Sources said that Sardesai and Khaunte, through their well wishers from BJP in Delhi were lobbying to retain their positions.
The BJP is now tasked with the work of satisfying the fresh lot of ten MLAs while also taking care of two others – Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte – who had switched over in October and later won the by-election. Both MLAs are looking out for cabinet berths.
Lobo, who is finally in line for a cabinet berth, was instrumental in cobbling together the Manohar Parrikar-led alliance in 2017, but was not made a minister at that time. His efforts to break the Congress are being rewarded.