Shah finally begins search for leadership alternatives to Parrikar

Panaji: The BJP has formally started its hunt for a leadership alternative to ailing Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, party leaders as well as an alliance partner said on Thursday.

The issue of leadership change had been a taboo subject for most of the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership, including MLAs and state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar, who until late on Wednesday had maintained that there was no question of even discussing possible alternatives to Parrikar’s leadership as the Chief Minister, who is suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer, was “recovering” and “governing the state well”.

The obduracy over the issue of leadership alternatives to Parrikar appears to have given way to a sense of pragmatism in the BJP ranks, especially with their national President Amit Shah formally broaching the subject with leaders from Goa’s ruling coalition parties.

“Amit Shahji spoke to leaders from our coalition parties today in Delhi. They discussed possible leadership options for the near future. A final decision will be taken after consultation with the party high command and state leadership,” a BJP leader told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Among the names of leaders discussed as possible Chief Minister alternatives at the meeting held between Shah, Goa Forward party President Vijai Sardesai and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leader Sudin Dhavalikar and other BJP leaders include Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik, state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar, Speaker Pramod Sawant and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, the party official said.

Sardesai, who met Shah earlier today, has also maintained that the BJP leadership is “seriously looking” at the leadership issue. “Some names have been discussed,” Sardesai said.

The failure of Chief Minister Parrikar to attend to day-to-day administrative and political chores due to prolonged treatment of cancer has thrown Goa into a political crisis for several weeks.

The BJP earlier this week inducted two MLAs from the Congress into its own party, in a bid to foil a government-toppling plan being engineered by the opposition party.

Ever since Parrikar’s health conditioned worsened, allies like Goa Forward as well as the MGP had been in touch with Congress leaders tinkering with a possible regime change, even as they had also been pressurising the BJP to allocate more plum portfolios to ministers from the coalition parties.