PANAJI, Sept 17 (IANS): Political activity in Goa gathered steam on Monday in the absence of an ailing Manohar Parrikar, with the Congress staking claim to form a government in Goa even as leaders of the BJP-led alliance discussed leadership options to replace the Chief Minister who is currently being treated for pancreatic cancer at the AIIMS in Delhi.
In a letter submitted to Raj Bhavan, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar demanded that in view of the political instability arising out of Parrikar's absence from office, the state Assembly should not be dissolved or held in suspended and instead the Congress, the single largest party, should be invited to take power.
"We have requested the Governor that the government should not be dissolved and put the state on the path of elections. We have also asked her not to impose President's Rule or keep the House in suspended animation. People have elected us for five years. Imposing an election after a mere 18 months is not good for anybody," Kavlekar said.
"We also apprehended that false letters or statements may be attributed to Leaders of INC (Indian National Congress), claiming there is a desire on the part of the INC to accept recommendation for dissolution of the Goa Assembly. This is not true and should not be accepted without adverting to a floor test," the letter signed by 16 Congress MLAs also said.
Governor Mridula Sinha is not in Goa. The Congress MLAs are expected to meet her when she returns on Tuesday.
Earlier, a team of Bharatiya Janata Party central observers, including General Secretary in charge of the organisation Ram Lal, who on Sunday had met BJP MLAs and leaders from alliance parties and independent lawmakers, conversed with senior BJP leaders from the party's core committee as well as former MLAs in a bid to draw up a list of potential alternative options for the post of Chief Minister, in place of Parrikar.
From Monday morning till afternoon, Ram Lal met former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, former Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, former Power Minister Mahadev Naik and former Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar among others.
"We have said that the CM (Parrikar) should continue. It will be for the good... He is undergoing treatment. He will recover sooner or later. There was no discussion on whether someone else should be appointed in charge. The High Command will decide that," Mahadev Naik told reporters.
Ram Lal, however, initially tried to play-down the discussions on leadership change, later insisting that the final call could be taken by BJP President Amit Shah.
"The government is strong and has the full majority, what is going to happen? It is not for me to decide (on a permanent solution). Whatever everyone has said I will place before the national president. What decision has to be taken will be taken. The government has to function," Ram Lal said, adding that there was no proposal for merger of any of the supporting alliance parties into the BJP.
Ram Lal's comment came on a day when Amit Shah also called on Parrikar at AIIMS.
Meanwhile, both key allies the Goa Forward and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have put the ball in the BJP's court as far the decision of leadership is concerned.
"We want common solution from the BJP, which will be agreeable to all alliance partners," MGP President Dipak Dhavalikar said, even as party sources suggest that the party has already pitched for Public Works Department Sudin Dhavalikar to be appointed as Chief Minister in Parrikar's absence.
Goa Forward President Vijai Sardesai has opposed Parrikar's proposal to appoint Dhavalikar as Deputy Chief Minister and has insisted on a "permanent solution" to the leadership issue, rather than opting for an ad hoc route.