Panaji: After the demise of chief minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday, the BJP-led coalition in Goa began discussions to find a new leader to replace him.
Parrikar (63) died of pancreatic cancer on Sunday at his private residence near here. Officially, he was described to have been suffering from a pancreatic ailment.
He was heading a coalition government comprising the BJP, the Goa Forward Party, the MGP and independents.
A meeting was held on Sunday which was attended by three MLAs of the Goa Forward Party, including its chief Vijai Sardesai and three MGP MLAs led by state transport minister Sudin Dhavalikar.
BJP state organisational general secretary Satish Dhond, independent MLA and state revenue minister Rohan Khaunte and state art and culture minister Govind Gawade were also present.
Dhond left in the middle of the meeting and refused to answer media queries on the new leader for the coalition government.
Allies in the Goa government Sunday said they would meet Union minister Nitin Gadkari to discuss the leadership issue, Dhavalikar said.
Gadkari is expected to arrive past midnight in the coastal state.
Sardesai said that the decision about the next leader would be taken after all the coalition partners meet. He said one of the suggestions was to make a non-MLA the next chief minister, which was also being considered.
When asked whether coalition partners will continue their support to the BJP, Sardesai said, “No one should be taken for granted.”
The death of Parrikar, who represented the Panaji assembly seat, will also necessitate a fourth bypoll in Goa, where by-elections are scheduled for the Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa assembly constituencies on April 23. These will held in the state along with the Lok Sabha polls.
“With chief minister Parrikar’s demise, the ruling coalition will have to make a fresh representation to the governor after choosing their leader. The representation will have the letter of support,” a senior official from State Legislature Department told PTI.
“If the governor (Mridula Sinha) is not convinced, then she will have to invite the single largest party to form government,” he said.
Parrikar, who was a former defence minister, was sworn in as the Goa chief minister in 2017 after he won from Panaji in the same year.
In order to allow him entry into the assembly, Panaji MLA Siddharth Kuncolienkar resigned on May 10, 2017, after which the by-poll was held.
The Congress is currently the single largest party in the state with 14 MLAs while the BJP has 12 in the 40-member Goa assembly. The Goa Forward Party, MGP and independents have three MLAs each while NCP has one legislator.
The strength of the House has been reduced to 36 due to demise of BJP MLA Francis D’Souza earlier this year, and Parrikar on Sunday, and resignations of two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte last year.