New Delhi: Soon after the Congress wrote to governor Mridula Sinha and staked claim to form the government in Goa, the state BJP unit called for a meeting of its MLAs at its Panaji office.
Leader of opposition in the assembly and Congress Legislature Party chief Chandrakant Kavlekar urged the governor to dismiss the BJP-led government, led by ailing Manohar Parrikar in the state, as it was in a minority now following the death of former chief minister and Mapusa MLA Francis D’Souza.
Kavlekar asked Sinha to invite the Congress, which he said was the “single-largest party” in the Assembly, to form the government.
In his letter to the governor, Kavlekar wrote, "Consequent upon the sad demise of Francis D'Souza, MLA, who belonged to the BJP, it is humbly submitted that the incumbent BJP-led state government under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, which has long lost the trust of the people and now also lost strength in the House."
"It is, therefore, incumbent upon you to dismiss the state government led by the BJP to ensure that the Indian National Congress, which is the single-largest party in the august House and is presently enjoying the majority, be called to form government," Kavlekar said.
The letter also said, “Any attempt to bring Goa under President’s rule will be illegal and will be challenged as deemed fit”.
Earlier in the day, the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) issued a statement claiming that the health of Parrikar, who is being treated at his private residence for advanced pancreatic cancer, is "stable", after media reports said his health conditions had worsened.
Parrikar was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer in February 2018 and has been in and out of hospitals in Goa, Mumbai, Delhi and New York ever since.
BJP MLA and deputy speaker of Goa assembly, Michael Lobo, said, "An emergency meeting was held as Parrikar ji got really ill last night. Doctors are seeing him and not saying that he'll recover. By-polls are also near in three constituencies and the meeting was also to finalise the candidature. However, there would be no leadership change in the state. Till Parrikar is here, only he'll remain the chief minister and no one has made the demand to replace him. We're praying that he gets well, but there are no chances, he is very ill. But if anything happens to him, a new CM will be be appointed from the BJP."
Later in the evening, Goa Forward ministers and independent MLAs went to meet Parrikar at his residence in Dona Paula.
The MLAs, all allies in the BJP-led government, are Goa Forward Party's (GFP) Jayesh Salgaonkar and Vinod Palyekar and independents Rohan Khaunte, Govind Gawade and Prasad Gaonkar.
GFP chief and town and country planning minister Vijai Sardesai said the chief minister's health had deteriorated but the MLAs would continue to support him.
"When cancer was detected and the chief minister showed willingness to step down, at that time we had asked for a permanent solution and stability. Today, his health has deteriorated, but we are with him. He is stable. I don't know what exactly is his stage (of ailment)," he said.
"He is not on life support. The chief minister's office has said he is stable, so we will take it that he is stable," Sardesai said.
The strength of the assembly has reduced from 40 to 37 after D'Souza's death and the resignation of two MLAs — Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte — after they switched camps from the Congress to the BJP.
While the Congress has 14 MLAs, down from 16 after Sopte and Shirodkar quit the party, the latter has 13 legislators.
Three MLAs each of the Goa Forward Party, Maharashtra Gomantak Party and an Independent and the lone NCP legislator are supporting the BJP government.
Bypolls to the seats previously held by Sopte, Shirodkar, and D'Souza will be held along with Lok Sabha polls in the state on April 23.
In September last year too, Congress MLAs met the governor to seek floor test in the assembly.
The Congress MLAs had requested Sinha to call for a special House session for a floor test by the BJP government.