The Supreme Court today ordered that a floor test be held on Thursday morning, refusing to stay the swearing-in ceremony of Manohar Parrikar. Miffed at the BJP moving ahead and claiming to have the required numbers to form a government despite not having the mandate of the people, the Congress Party has finally woken up and decided to take matters head on.
The Congress Legislature Party met at the party headquarters and will meet the Governor at 1.30 pm after she refused to meet them this morning. We’re getting you the latest from Goa.
1.20 pm: In his remarks before boarding a bus to go and meet the Governor along with his MLAs, Digvijaya Singh said the SC order was a victory for the Congress. Meanwhile, Parrikar refused to speak to the media only saying: “Come to the swearing-in ceremony and I will tell you what I have to, over there.”
1.20 pm: Senior BJP leader and Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu has also reacted to the developments in Goa and Manipur. “Majority was not received by any parties in Goa and Manipur, other parties gave us support for formation of government.”
1.15 pm: Congress Party leaders are now on their way to meet Governor Mridula Sinha. They had earlier sought a meeting at 10.00 am this morning but the Governor refused to meet them saying she would meet them only at 1.30 pm.
1.05 pm: Rahul Gandhi has reacted to the developments in Goa. “We are in opposition, you have ups and downs, we had a little down in UP, it’s fine, we accept that. It’s very difficult to stake claim in Goa as Governor appointed Parrikar as CM. It’s not about how soon you went it’s with how much money you went.”
1.00 pm: The Congress Party has reportedly agreed to 11-term MLA Pratapsingh Rane as their representative to chair the floor test, while the BJP has reportedly gone with former deputy CM Francis D’Souza.
12.50 pm: The BJP office, meanwhile, has already given a “comprehensive guest list” to Raj Bhavan and all arrangements are in place.
12.40 pm: Lots happening at both the party offices in Panjim. At the BJP office, Parrikar is currently in a meeting with top party leaders. At Congress House, that overlooks river Mandovi, Congress leader Digambar Kamat had a meeting with Digvijaya Singh, post which he left the building. Digambar is seen as a good friend of Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane. Stay tuned as all of this unfolds.
12.30 pm: Abhishek Manu Singhvi outside Supreme Court: “The Governor didn’t talk or telephone the single largest party. How could she arrive at a decision? The Supreme Court has intervened in significant manner. The Governor had given 15 days, we know how it is used to cobble up a majority. We wanted a floor test. The court has preponed it significantly for dayafter for logistical reasons as opposed to tomorrow. So Parrikar can be CM for two days.”
12.25 pm: The Governor had earlier given Parrikar 15 days to prove his majority on the floor of the house. He now has 48 hours to prove it. Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who petitioned the SC, said it was for the BJP to decide if they want to hold the swearing-in today or not. “It’s for them to decide if they want to be CM for two days.”
12.20 pm: BJP’s GVL Narsimha Rao, in its first reaction, says the Congress been given a long rope by the Supreme Court. Gadkari, speaking to the reporters, said: “Congress was not able to choose a leader due to their internal tussle and they are blaming us for it.”
12.15 pm: There’s renewed excitement at Congress House in Panjim. Senior MLAs Dayanand Sopte, Vishwajit Rane and others are happy with the order. The CLP meeting will get the MLAs in line for the floor test.
12.10 pm: The Congress Party now wants the Governor, who they are meeting at 1.30 pm, to issue a letter of invitation to them as well, before the swearing-in ceremony.
12.05 pm: The Supreme Court has refused to stay the swearing-in ceremony of Parrikar. It has ordered that the floor test be conducted on March 16 or within 48 hours. So the swearing in could take place this afternoon.
12.00 pm: Now that the matter has moved to the Assembly, let’s recap the numbers. The BJP won 13 seats, the Congress 17. Goa Forward won 3, MGP won 3 and three were independents. NCP has one seat. Letters of support have been given to BJP by the MGP, the Goa Forward and the three Independents. The BJP was to hold its swearing in ceremony this evening. However, now the SC has asked for a floor test. The Congress says it has the numbers – a minimum of 21.
11.50 am: What happens to the swearing-in ceremony now? It is likely that the swearing in ceremony will be postponed. We could soon see the BJP hold the smaller parties and independents close as they would not want the Congress approaching them before the test. In court, the SC told Salve, appearing for the Centre: “You are a very powerful man, you can manipulate anything. That’s what he is saying.”
11.40 am: Some reports indicate that the Supreme Court may direct that a floor test be conducted in Goa with senior most MLA as Speaker.
11.35 am: Congress has told Supreme Court that it wants a floor test conducted today itself. Congress claims they have the numbers.
11.30 am: There’s a huge presence of police force in Panjim and Dona Paula – where Raj Bhavan is located – to pre-empt any untoward incident. Messages on WhatsApp have called for citizens to come to Dona Paula and protest the ‘undemocratic’ move by the BJP.
11.20 am: In the Supreme Court, the bench has said that the numbers should determine the single largest party. “You would have held a dharna outside Raj Bhavan if you had a majority,” the bench has reported. “You had enough time… There is not a single affidavit from any member who supports you.” The bench has also asked Congress why they did not approach the Governor of Goa over government formation.
11.10 am: Congress has staged a walkout from Lok Sabha over the BJP’s move to form government in Goa and Manipur. They had asked for an adjournment motion.
10.57 am: In Supreme Court, the Congress is reportedly facing some tough questions from Chief Justice Khehar. “Did you submit in writing names of the MLAs who are supporting you and submit it to the Governor?”
10.52 am: Congress’s Digvijaya Singh has said that the Governor has decided to meet them only at 1.30 pm. ‘We had asked for an appointment at 1030 am. We would have been happier if she would have met us before. We are upset that the Governor called Parrikar without following the norms.”
10.45 am: The matter is currently being heard in the Supreme Court. The Congress will also raise the issue in Lok Sabha where they have asked for an adjournment.
10.20 am: The Supreme Court will hear the writ petition filed by Congress in a few minutes from now. The Congress Party will appeal to the bench to stay the Governor’s order. Its plea will be that the Governor is in blatant violation of the well established constitutional conventions of inviting the single largest party to form the Government. Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh will appear in the case challenging appointment of Parrikar as Goa CM.
10.05 am: Meanwhile, Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane has once again hit out at the top leadership of the party. “It’s a failure on part of Congress leadership… cannot identify any individual but there was a failure. Despite having 17 seats, we couldn’t form government, our decision making was slow. There were lapses in decision making,” he said.
10.00 am: Quick fact – If the Supreme Court does indeed stay Parrikar’s appointment as CM for a few days, then the Governor may have to impose President’s Rule in Goa. The term of the current legislative assembly ends on March 18. A new government has to be sworn in before this date. If not, the term expires and without a new government in place, it will have to be President’s Rule.
9.55 am: While they will have to be in Delhi to attend at least the morning session of Lok Sabha, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, along with BJP chief Amit Shah will arrive in Goa to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Manohar Parrikar. This, of course, given the Supreme Court does not stay his appointment as CM by Governor Mridula Sinha.
9.50 am: In Lok Sabha, Congress has gives a notice for adjournment of proceedings to discuss the issue of government formation in Goa and in Manipur. It will have to be seen whether Speaker Sumitra Mahajan accepts the motion and allows a discussion on the same. The BJP, as we said earlier, has issued a whip asking all its MPs to be present in the House.
9.40 am: In Supreme Court, the Congress’s plea will be represented by senior advocates and party leaders Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Kapil Sibal.
9.30 am: In Delhi, Finance Minister Arun has taken charge of the Defence Ministry. He has been given additional charge of the same after Parrikar resigned on Monday and the President, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Modi, accepted it and gave Jaitley additional charge.
9.20 am: More from Digvijaya Singh’s statement to the press. Now he refers to what happened in Delhi, when a hung assembly was elected. “In Delhi, when BJP was the largest party, they were called to form government but they refused. That’s when AAP was invited, so AAP-Congress formed government.”
9.10 am: “The Governor has to act according to the Constitution. There are established procedures that she has to follow,” says AICC General Secretary Digvijaya Singh. When asked if the Congress Party had the numbers, Singh said it does not matter at this stage as the numbers have to be proved on the floor of the House. Also seen outside the Congress House in Panaji were state president Luizinho Faleiro and senior party leader Pratapsingh Rane. The CLP meeting begins now.
9.05 am: This is what the Congress Party told Governor Sinha Monday night, requesting her to meet the CLP leaders and invite Congress to form government. “Any invitation to the BJP to form the government at this stage without first giving an opportunity to the single largest party (Congress) would mitigate against the essential democratic rights of the people of the state who have chosen the INC as the single largest party in the state.”
9.00 am: The AAP, late Monday night, questioned the role of Governor Mridula Sinha, saying she acted in haste without first asking the single largest party to prove its strength. In a press note issued, AAP demanded the President recall Governor Sinha for failing in her constitutional duties. “AAP denounces the hurry with which the Governor endorsed the politically adulterous BJP-MGP-Goa Forward combination and appointed Manohar Parrikar as CM-designate,” party spokesperson Dr Oscar Rebello said.
8.50 am: With Parrikar’s return, and if he gets the SC nod to go ahead and become chief minister, he will have to contest an election within six months. The most likely scenario is that he will contest from his home seat of Mapusa, which is currently represented by BJP’s Francis D’Souza. When asked, D’Souza said: People of Mapusa will be happy if Goa’s chief minister contests from their constituency. If the party asks, I will follow what they say.” Francis could well be the party’s Rajya Sabha candidate. The elections for the same are a few months away. The current Rajya Sabha MP is Shantaram Naik of the Congress.
8.45 am: Besides moving SC and meeting the Governor today, the Congress Party will also raise the issue of government formation in Goa and Manipur in Parliament today. The second leg of the Budget session is underway. The BJP has issued a whip asking all its MPs to be present in the House. So, while they reacted late to government formation in Goa, it appears the Congress is now doing all it can to stop BJP from forming government in these two states.
8.40 am: This is what the Congress legislators will tell Governor Sinha. “We will ask the Governor to consider our side. We will be asking her to reconsider her letter of appointment issued on Sunday night. We are using all constitutional apparatus available to us.” This includes them moving the Supreme Court last evening and getting an urgent hearing that has been slated for 10.30 am this morning.
8.35 am: Meanwhile, the BJP has just strenthened its numbers. They now have Sanguem Independent MLA Prasad Gaonkar’s letter of support. This now takes their tally up to 22. BJP – 13, Goa Forward – 3, MGP – 3, Independents – 3. The halfway mark in Goa is 21. The BJP has also been trying to get support of lone NCP MLA Churchill Alemao. Alemao is yet to reveal which side of the fence he will be on. Much depends on the central leadership of the party.
8.30 am: While the Congress Legislature Party meets in a few minutes from now, what is important to note is how many of the 17 MLAs actually turn up. Sources say a section of the newly-elected MLAs are upset with the top leadership of the party and want to split into a new faction. We will have to wait and watch.
8.20 am: The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) will meet at Congress House, the party headquarters in Panaji before they head out to Raj Bhavan. They will be at Raj Bhavan before 10 am as the Supreme Court hearing begins at 10.30 am. They would want to arrive before the matter begins.