New Delhi, Mar 13: In an unprecedented success, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ended up winning two out of the five states contested in the assembly elections of February-March 2017. The states won by BJP are: Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. The sheer size of latter makes the victory all the more important for the saffron party. However, the Congress electorally outperformed BJP in the remaining three states. Yet, the efficient realpolitik of BJP provides them the opportunity to form government in Goa and Manipur, despite emerging as runner-up in the two states.
While Congress won Punjab with a brute two-third majority, the party failed to get past the halfway mark in Goa and Manipur. The latter witnessed a nail-biting electoral race, with Congress winning 28 seats, falling short of majority by 3. Meanwhile, in Goa, the party emerged victorious in 17 seats, failing to cross the magic figure of 21.
Following the mandate, the Congress camp appeared content, indicating that the next government in both Goa and Manipur would be formed by them. However, the realpolitik of BJP over the last 48 hours changed the electoral scenario. Despite trailing as the first runner-up in both the states, BJP ended up winning over the support of regional allies.
BJP plays Parrikar card in Goa
Status Known For 40 out of 40 Constituencies
|Bharatiya Janata Party||13||0||13|
|Indian National Congress||17||0||17|
|Nationalist Congress Party||1||0||1|
|Goa Forward Party||3||0||3|
In the coastal state, Manohar Parrikar remains the tallest leader. While pitching for a post-poll coalition with estranged ally Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), the prerequisite laid by latter was the return of Parrikar. Similar demand was raised by three independent lawmakers and the 3 MLAs of Goa Forward Party who extended their support.
BJP was quick to take the call. Following the round of discussions between Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Nitin Gadkari and BJP chief Amit Shah, it was decided that Parrikar should leave Centre and return to Goa. On Monday, Parrikar submitted his resignation, followed by Goa Governor Mridula Sinha’s announcement that the former would be sworn in as the CM tomorrow.
Congress MLAs are reportedly miffed at party high command for failing to negotiate the deal with independents and regional parties. Congress had pinned hope in Goa Forwards Party extending its support to Congress, in a bid to ‘check the communal forces in Goa’. Expressing disappointment over the developments, Congress-in-charge for Goa, Digvijay Singh said, “Manohar Parrikar has hijacked the popular mandate in Goa. He has brought down the morality of politics in the country. His act of indulging in horse-trading has affected the morale of Goan politicians.”
In a last ditch effort to save Goa from being wrested by BJP, Congress took the fight over fractured mandate to Supreme Court. The party argued that Governor flouted constitutional norms by not allowing the single-largest party to claim stake over the government. The top court is scheduled to hear the plea tomorrow.
In Manipur, Congress finds no regional ally
Status Known For 60 out of 60 Constituencies
|All India Trinamool Congress||1||0||1|
|Bharatiya Janata Party||21||0||21|
|Indian National Congress||28||0||28|
|Naga Peoples Front||4||0||4|
|Lok Jan Shakti Party||1||0||1|
|National People’s Party||4||0||4|
Winning 28 seats, Congress required only 3 more for majority. However, apart from the single elected MLA of Trinamool Congress, none of the regional players extended support to Congress. Instead, the Nagaland People’s Party (4), the Naga People’s Front (4) and the independent legislators decided to back the BJP, which was a distant runner-up with 21 seats. With the support of NPP, NPF and an independently elected legislator, BJP took its tally to 32, crossing the halfway mark in the 60-member assembly.
Similar to Goa, Congress has accused foul play in Manipur as well. “We were only 2 seats short of majority. Single largest party is given first option. It’s incompetent on part of the Governor,” said senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily. However, Najma Heptullah defended her decision, claiming that Congress came forward with an informal letter showing the support of 4 NPP MLAs. On the other hand, the NPP president had sent his signed letter pledging support of his party’s 4 elected legislators to the BJP.
Past instances when Governor overlooked the ‘single-largest’ party
In 1993 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, BJP emerged as the single largest winning 173 seats, 29 short of forming majority. However, the Governor decided to call the coalition of Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to form the government. Both the parties had collectively won 178 seats, and were supported externally by Bharatiya Kranti Dal, Congress and independents.
A similar situation was repeated in the 1996 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, when BJP was again not invited to form the government despite emerging as the single largest party with 110 seats. Instead, the Governor recommended President’s rule with no post-poll coalitions formed.
Similarly, after the results of 2002 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh came out, Samajwadi Party came out as the single-largest player winning 140 seats. With no post-poll alliance formed, Governor decided to impose President’s Rule in the state.
To cite a recent example, BJP emerged as the single largest party in Delhi following the 2013 assembly elections. Out of the 70 seats contested, BJP won 32, four short of majority. However, the post-poll alliance between Aam Aadmi Party (28) and Congress (8) compelled the then Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to allow AAP and Congress to form the government, whereas, the BJP was forced to sit in the Opposition.