Union Minister for Agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar arrived in Goa on Monday, hours ahead of a crucial meeting of BJP’s newly elected MLAs to formalise the name of its Chief Minister to head the party’s coalition government in the state.
Tomar, who is the emissary of the BJP’s highest decision-making body — the central parliamentary board — was accompanied by Union Minister of State for Fisheries L. Murugan, is expected to chair a meeting of party MLAs at 4 p.m., following which a letter formally staking claim to form a government would be sent to the Governor.
“Today the legislators will meet at 4 p.m. In this meeting, the legislature party of the BJP will choose its leader. I, along with Union state minister Murugan, are here. We will meet all party workers and MLAs and conclude the election procedure for the leadership,” Tomar told reporters soon after his arrival at the Dabolim international airport.
“We will seek a meeting with the Governor as soon as the legislature party meeting concludes,” Tomar also said.
The BJP won 20 seats in the February 14 polls, just one short of a majority of 21 in a 40-member House. Five MLAs, including three independent legislators and two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have already sent letters of support to the BJP.
Interestingly, ever since the election results were revealed on March 10, the BJP has been dilly dallying over its choice of the Chief Minister, amid infighting between caretaker Chief Minister Pramod Sawant who held the post from 2019-22 and his former Health Minister and arch rival Vishwajit Rane.
Both the leaders were present at a meeting at the residence of Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday night, where the issue of leadership was discussed, according to sources. The BJP central leadership has also involved former Speaker of the Goa assembly and currently the Himachal Pradesh Governor Rajendra Arlekar into the leadership discussion.
Arlekar’s active involvement in talks with the BJP’s central leadership over Goa, has given rise to speculation as to whether the party would look to repeat its strategy after the 2017 assembly polls, when it parachuted then Defence Minister late Manohar Parrikar as the new Chief Minister.
Tomar however insisted that there was no in-fighting within the BJP, adding that the delay in government formation was not a state specific issue.
“There is no question of infighting. BJP is a united party and it has a constitution, it has a style of functioning. After a poll, the legislature party meets and it selects a leader who becomes a chief minister,” Tomar said.
When asked why the swearing-in and government formation processes were delayed in Goa, Tomar said: “There has been no swearing-in yet in the four other states we have won”.