Categories: Editorial

Overambitious Moves Of Dhavalikar Brothers

All does not seem to be well within the state’s ruling coalition, especially because Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has been ailing and members of his cabinet appear to be pursuing their personal agendas, prejudices and rivalries without much restraint. The disrespectful fit of Art and Culture Minister Govind Gaude against Public Works Department Minister Ramkrishna Dhavalikar at the cabinet meeting last week in the presence of the Chief Minister is an indication of the licence members of the cabinet are taking. Gaude was believed to have not only used crude and rude epithets against Dhavalikar but also made a menacing advance towards him. Gaude has been publicly accusing Dhavalikar of holding up projects in his constituency. In reaction, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party leadership has given a four-day ‘ultimatum’ to the Chief Minister to sack Gaude from the cabinet, an ultimatum which expires today. Gaude has counter-attacked with a demand that the Chief Minister seek an explanation from Dhavalikar for neglect of his constituency.

The fight between Gaude and Dhavalikar suggests that ministers are trying to settle political scores taking advantage of Parrikar’s inability to forcefully assert on account of sickness. There are other things of concern to the ruling coalition that are emerging. The MGP has decided to set up candidates in both Shiroda and Mandrem. The BJP leadership has given a feeble response, which feebleness is driven by the fact that the BJP wants to keep rowing the boat at least until the elections to the Lok Sabha are over. However, the other partners are beginning to show their resentment against the MGP for deciding to set up candidates for the two by-polls. They see in it the MGP’s game of increasing its strength in the Assembly. Gaude’s assault has accentuated the pitch for the other allies. Though the MGP has not openly declared that it would walk out of the coalition in case its demand for removal of Gaude was not met, many see the ultimatum as a threat that it may walk out of government. The MGP sees a threat to its relevance as an ally ahead in case the BJP wins the two by-polls. The BJP needs to defuse the tensions building up in the coalition.

The MGP has not made it clear what action it would take in case the BJP ignores its demand. It is apparent that the MGP has been flexing its muscles to revise its deal with the BJP with more offices to its leaders. The decision to contest the by-elections to the Shiroda and Mandrem constituencies is clearly a strong message to the BJP to come to the negotiating table. The BJP has decided not to come to the table. In the recent months the MGP had mounted a campaign that Dhavalikar be made chief minister while Parrikar was undergoing treatment in the US. Reports quoting BJP sources that Parrikar would reallocate portfolios had given rise to hope in the MGP that Dhavalikar might at last see his dream of becoming chief minister realized. There were talks also of Dhavalikar using his personal equation with Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari to get the office. That did not happen.

That the relations of the allies in the government are not very cordial can be made out from the fact that Goa Forward Party leader and Agriculture and TCP Minister Vijay Sardessai has said he would ensure that the stability of the government was not threatened. Probably the MGP knew it would be looked at with suspicion and isolated by the BJP and other allies if it decides to contest the two by-polls and has made its calculations accordingly. So we have to see how the conflict plays out. As of now, however, the BJP does not want to push things very hard and is trying for reconciliation. None of the senior state BJP leaders has reacted to the conflicts developing within the coalition. Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik has advised ministers to exercise caution and engage themselves in carrying out their responsibilities. Politics is a strange game. The ground rule in politics is opportunism. The MGP has always been a part of government, no matter which party ran it. The Dhavalikar brothers have perfected the art of getting a few seats and pitching for good offices in the fragmented mandate. But perhaps this time they have a larger aim than just a berth in the cabinet or two. That is where they are driving themselves to. We will wait to see what happens.

nt

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