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Wafer-thin Majority in Goa Reveals Why India's Smaller States Remain Politically Volatile

Data shows smaller states like Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Nagaland that comprise of five or less Lok Sabha seats are plagued by defection, infighting and mergers which make the state governments very volatile.

Rishika Pardikar | News18.com@PardikarRishika

Updated:March 25, 2019, 12:40 PM IST
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Wafer-thin Majority in Goa Reveals Why India's Smaller States Remain Politically Volatile
Goa Governor Mridula Sinha (R) administers the oath of the office to Pramod Sawant as the new Chief Minister of the state, at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji on Tuesday (PTI)

New Delhi: With 20 MLAs voting in favour of the state assembly, the BJP-led government in Goa passed the floor test to prove their majority on March 20.

Before the death of Manohar Parrikar, the ruling government comprised of 13 BJP MLAs, three MLAs each from the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, three independents and one MLA from NCP. In effect, the government had a majority of 23 in the 40-member House.

But both the results — the floor test and the result of the last legislative assembly — point at slim majorities, placing the ruling government on shaky ground. And such political uncertainty finds precedence in the state of Goa.

Since 1987, when the state was officially formed by splitting the Union Territory of Goa, Daman and Diu, to today, it has seen a change of chief ministers 20 times. this excludes one instance when in 2002 when Parrikar ruled as the ‘caretaker chief minister’ for about 65 days when the state assembly was dissolved.

The term of each of the chief ministers is noteworthy too. Ravi S. Naik from the Congress party ruled for only 6 days, from 2nd April to 8th April in 1994. Naik’s first stint as chief minister was also short-lived—an incomplete term that lasted 844 days.

The other chief minister with a brief term was Churchill Alemao of the Progressive Democratic Front who ruled for a mere 18 days in 1990.

Even Manohar Parrikar served as chief minister in three incomplete terms and one 65-day term as the caretaker chief minister.

The only chief minister who served a full-term since the time Goa attained statehood was Digambar Kamat from the Congress party who ruled from 2007 to 2012. But he too failed to secure a second term when the party lost to the BJP in the 2012 assembly elections and Parrikar became CM for the second time.

The terms of chief ministers aside, the other trend that points at an unstable government is the fact that no party has won a majority in the House since the assembly election in 1989.

This issue of volatility plagues other smaller states too that comprise of five or less Lok Sabha seats because relatively bigger states have bucked the trend and even held on to a single CM from a single party, the data shows.

For example, Arunachal Pradesh saw six chief ministers in the last decade with the period under the current incumbent, Pema Khandu, being highly controversial.

Khandu took office on July 17 2016 as a member of the Congress government but defected to the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA) two months later and then formally joined the BJP, following his suspension from the PPA. This term succeeded in a brief four-day term of the previous chief minister. Interestingly, all this took place while he retained his position as the chief minister.

The state also saw a change in the ruling party five times since 2008 with one 24-day period under president’s rule.

Likewise, Nagaland oversaw a change in chief ministers four times in the past decade and a 70-day period under president’s rule. Although, it should be clarified that since there was just one change in the ruling party during this same period the functioning of the government was relatively stable. This occurred when members of the ruling party defected and formed a new party in line with the Representation of the People Act and the Anti-Defection law.

Uttarakhand too has undergone political volatility with five different people holding the CM seat in the past decade and the ruling party being unseated twice.

State assemblies with members in double digits tend to show more political volatility. Defections, mergers and in-fighting tend to make governments in these states more un-stable vis a vis bigger provinces.

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| Edited by: Aditya Sharma
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