The MGP decision to contest the Shiroda bypoll is driving a wedge between two coalition partners of the state government. The BJP has drawn up a strategy. And as per the strategy, Deputy Chief Minister Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar may be dropped from the state cabinet if the MGP does not withdraw from contesting the bypoll.
Highly-placed sources said the senior coalition partner has worked out the strategy to handle the situation: if the MGP fails to withdraw from contesting the Shiroda bypoll then the BJP may drop Ramakrishna Dhavalikar from the state cabinet.
Although BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar time and again expressed confidence that the MGP will not contest the Shiroda bypoll, the MGP president and candidate for the Shiroda seat Pandurang ‘Deepak’ Dhavalikar has stood his ground on contesting the by-election. The sources said the BJP has worked out the strategy to stop the MGP from contesting the bypolls in Shiroda, Mandrem and Mapusa constituencies.
As per the strategy, the BJP may split MGP’s legislative wing by poaching two MGP legislators – Tourism Minister Manohar ‘Babu’ Azgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar. Ramakrishna Dhavalikar may be dropped from the cabinet if the junior coalition partner goes ahead with its decision on contesting the Shiroda by-election.
Trying to brazen out the BJP threat, the MGP said that it is ready to face any political consequences for contesting the Shiroda bypoll.
Ramakrishna Dhavalikar has discussed the issue with his family members and party leaders, sources in the MGP said.
There were no formal discussions on the issue between the leaders of the two allies till Tuesday evening, sources said, maintaining that BJP leaders have hoped that the MGP would follow coalition dharma and support the BJP candidates for the three bypolls.
Victory in the three by-elections will ensure stability of the Pramod Sawant government. But if the MGP contests the bypolls then stability of the government could be jeopardised.
The sources said the BJP will wait till March 28 for the MGP to reconsider its decision. And if it still goes ahead with its decision then a major move could be made before the polling.
It is also learnt that the BJP has instructed acting Speaker of state legislative assembly Michael Lobo to be available in the state.
Lobo, who had been on a visit to Dubai, returned to the state on Sunday on the direction of the party.
MGP says it is ready to face any consequences
MGP president Pandurang ‘Deepak’ Dhavalikar on Tuesday denied assuring Union minister Nitin Gadkari of backing out of the Shiroda bypoll, and said the MGP is ready to face any consequences for contesting the bypoll.
Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’, Pandurang Dhavalikar held his ground on contesting the particular bypoll, as “it is too late now”.
The MGP even threatened to quit the Sawant government over the bypoll row.
MGP’s central committee will meet on Wednesday where many important decisions could be taken.
“When Gadkari spoke to me over the phone I had clearly told him that it was too late to withdraw from contesting the Shiroda bypoll,” he said, pointing out that other than Gadkari no BJP leader has discussed the issue with him.
Pandurang Dhavalikar said that nobody can dictate terms to the MGP as it is an independent regional political party. “Nobody has right to set a deadline for the MGP on any matter, including withdrawing from the Shiroda bypoll,” he said.
When sought his reaction on a news report that claimed that Deputy Chief Minister Ramakrishna ‘Sudin’ Dhavalikar may be dropped from the state cabinet if the MGP does not withdraw from the Shiroda bypoll, the MGP chief maintained that his party is ready to face any consequences for contesting the by-election.
“The MGP will not ensure stability of the government if injustice is meted out to our MLA. If the BJP takes any decision against the MGP then we will also not hesitate to take a bold decision, including quitting the government,” Pandurang Dhavlikar warned.
He said that his campaign has entered the last phase.
I am not quitting Congress: Isidore
Canacona MLA Isidore Fernandes on Tuesday scotched off rumours on his plans to join a political party.
It was rumoured that Fernandes could be the latest Congress legislator to join the BJP after resigning as an MLA.
Dismissing the rumours, Fernandes said, “I am not leaving the Congress, although I have offers from other parties.”
Asked whether there has been frustration within the Congress over its failure to form government, the Canacona MLA said that there is no frustration among Congress leaders.
He said that all 14 MLAs are united and will work collectively to ensure the victory of the Congress candidates in the parliamentary elections.