Goa Governor’s Jaitley ‘consultation’ rocks Rajya Sabha

In an interview, Goa Governor Mridula Sinha admits she consulted Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before before making up her mind to invite Manohar Parrikar to form the government


NH Political Bureau

Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar may have easily cruised the Goa floor test on Thursday by bagging 22 votes, but the moral legitimacy of him being invited by Governor Mridula Sinha to form the government—though the BJP just has 13 seats as against the Congress’ 16 in the 40-member Assembly—continues to be questioned. It just got worse.

Sinha said in an interview that she had consulted Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley before she made up her mind. And, that created a furore in the Rajya Sabha on Friday with the Congress party forcing an adjournment over the conduct of the Goa Governor —in both inviting BJP to form the government in Goa and after she reportedly consulted Jaitley.

In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, Governor Sinha said that “didn’t expect the BJP to form the government.” When asked whether there were any pressures on her before she took the decision to invite Parrikar to form the government, Sinha said that she didn’t speak with the Centre and that none approached her nor called her. She said that Parrikar contacted her on Sunday and met her with his supporters and the letters ostensibly expressing support to the government.

However, she seemed to contradict herself soon after. “Then I felt I should speak with Arun Jaitley, and I called him around 9.30 in the evening, discussing the situation. I informed him I had verified the numbers and was satisfied and that Congress leaders hadn’t arrived yet. He said that if any party comes with the numbers, it has to be considered. So, that settled it,” she told the newspaper.

Congress members alleged that Sinha consulting Jaitley was a breach of propriety and constitutional norms. Digvijaya Singh—who was also the Congress’ election in-charge for Goa—had given a notice under Rule 267 seeking the business of the day to be set aside and to take up the issue of “gross constitutional impropriety committed by the Governor of Goa.” Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien, however, maintained that the conduct of a governor could be discussed only on the basis of a substantive motion.

“How can the governor seek permission of a Cabinet minister to form a government,” asked Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Upper House.

Former Union Minister Anand Sharma said the Constitution clearly defined the Governor’s duties and powers in appointing the chief minister and it does not anywhere state that the governor is supposed to consult a serving cabinet minister.

Congress leaders stormed the well of the House raising slogans against “murder of democracy”, forcing Kurien to adjourn the House till noon.

Earlier, Digvijaya Singh tried to deflect the allegations against him of not having submitted a letter to the Governor on time, and thus losing out on the opportunity to form the government. In a series of tweets, he alleged that his proposal for a pre-poll alliance with Goa Forward Party was “sabotaged” by his own party leaders.

“As a strategy I had proposed a secular alliance with regional party headed by Babush Monserrate and Goa Forward headed by Vijay Sardesai… Our alliance with Babush went through and we won 3 out of 5 but our alliance with Goa Forward was sabotaged by our own leaders. Sad ! … Goa Forward won 3 out of 4 they contested. Had our alliance with Goa Forward gone through we would have been 22 (sic),” Singh tweeted.

The Goa Forward Party had won three seats and chose to join forces with the BJP.

With PTI inputs.

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