MUMBAI: Sudin Dhavalikar, one of the two deputy chief ministers in Goa, was dropped from the ministry on Wednesday, merely within a week from he was sworn in. The development came just hours after two of his party MLAs joined BJP in early hours of the day.
Manohar Ajgaonkar from Pernem in North Goa and Dipak Pawaskar from Sanvordem in South Goa were the two of three Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLAs who handed over a letter to officiating Speaker Michael Lobo merging their party’s legislative wing with the BJP at around 1.45 am on Wednesday. Emergency meeting of the state BJP was called in the morning wherein proposal to accept them in the party was officially accepted. Decision to drop Deputy CM and PWD minister Sudin Dhavalikar from the cabinet was then taken by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Ajgaonkar currently holds transport portfolio in Sawant’s cabinet, while Pawaskar is expected to be inducted in the cabinet very soon. Governor Mridula Sinha is not in Goa and the Pawaskar’s induction in the cabinet can be done after she arrives in Goa by evening, sources have said.
The merger has increased the strength of the BJP from 12 to 14 in the 36-member House. Congress, which is the principal opposition party in the state, too has 14 MLAs on the floor.
BJP’s increased strength in the house will bring more stability to the government and also increase party’s prospects in the assembly by polls in three constituencies scheduled on April 23, party sources said.
The MGP had been the ‘Hindu’ face in Goa politics for a long time and had been one of the oldest allies of the BJP. Fear of splitting Hindu votes had prevented the BJP from contesting polls against MGP. But, BJP started doing so after MGP deviated from the ‘Hindu’ agenda of politics during V P Singh government in 1989. Parrikar’s aggressiveness on issues of corruption and Hindu politics helped BJP capture the MGP’s space in Goa politics very fast. Today’s development is a decisive blow to MGP in the state, political analysts have said.
Dhavalikar’s strong ambition for the top post had led the BJP leaders to think of this alternative during the negotiations with allies after Parrikar’s death, said one of the senior BJP leaders from the state who was involved in the negotiations.
Furious with the development Dhavalikar termed it as dacoity.
“At night, the ‘chowkidars’, by committing biggest dacoity on MGP, have shocked the people of Goa. People of Goa are watching this. People will decide on the course of action,” he said while speaking to media.
On the other hand, Ajgaonkar and Pawaskar have accused Dhavalikar brothers of treating the party as private property while explaining reasons behind their decision.
“I was feeling unsafe in the party after Lavoo Mamlatdar, senior general secretary of the MGP, was recently expelled by the party chief Dipak Dhavalikar,” said Ajgaonkar and added that the MGP of today was not working for the downtrodden.
“During the last two years as an MLA, I was never invited to attend central committee meetings. Both the Dhavalikar brothers (Sudin and Dipak) never took us into confidence,” Pawaskar said.
Dipak Dhavlikar is already in fray for Shiroda by-poll and has refused to withdraw from it despite repeated pleas from the BJP to its ally.