The minister, who was despatched by
BJP chief Amit Shah
+ after the
demise of Manohar Parrikar
+ , had a role in working out equations for the second time in the coastal state. He was the man behind the scenes when BJP came from behind to pip Congress to form a government in 2017 despite lesser MLAs.
“Our strength has reduced to 12 and Congress is down at 14. It was natural that we needed support of other parties and independents. The distribution of departments has also been finalised and I am confident this government will carry forward the good work,” Gadkari told TOI.
The situation was resolved after protracted discussions between BJP leaders and smaller parties whose bargaining power had increased in the midst of the political flux. If even one of the regional parties had shifted loyalties, government formation would have become very difficult given the available options.
“Congress has 14 MLAs, but could take only three to the Governor. We produced names of all MLAs supporting us to show our majority. We will pass the floor test on Wednesday as well. There is no room for any interference in this process,” Gadkari said.
The negotiations first had to get around Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party’s argument that its leader Sudin Dhavalikar is the seniormost MLA and should be considered for the CM’s post. The issue consumed a few hours before BJP persuaded the ally that its nominee be accepted.
There were protracted negotiations that saw some would-be ministers threaten to head off to their homes. The portfolio-sharing was finally worked out well past midnight on Monday. “It was natural on their part to bargain as we needed their support. I have had a 30-year association with local leaders and that helped me. Now there is unanimity and the government will be stable,” said Gadkari.
BJP zeroed in on Goa speaker Pramod Sawant after briefly considering Sripad Naik, junior minister for Ayurveda at the Centre. The feedback from all 12 BJP MLAs favoured Sawant while allies and independents supporting the government also felt that the choice should be from among the MLAs.