Emerging as the single-largest party in Goa’s 40-member state Assembly on Saturday, though without a clear majority, the Congress on Sunday morning launched intense discussions with independent MLAs and those affiliated to smaller regional parties.

The Congress won 17 seats, while the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party got 13 seats. The Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward have bagged three seats each. The Nationalist Congress Party won one seat, while three seats went to independent candidates.

Digvijay Singh, the All India Congress Committee general secretary in charge of Goa, said that the party was in touch with all the non-BJP legislators. “We are absolutely confident that we have the numbers on our side and will be over 21,” he said.

He said the Congress would meet the governor to stake its claim after it had chosen its leader and had the letters of support from allies

Late on Saturday evening, shortly after the results, the BJP top brass including defense minister Manohar Parrikar interpreted the results as a “fractured mandate”. The BJP leader said his party had received the largest vote share and was therefore making a bid to form a government.

However, eight of the party’s ministers, including Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, lost their seats.

Claims dismissed

Digvijay Singh claimed that Parrikar’s interpretation of the situation was “ridiculous”.

All India Congress Committee general secretary Girish Chodankar agreed with Singh at a specially convened press conference on Sunday morning.“ It is clear that you [BJP] have not got a majority,” he said. “You are not even the single-largest party. To even claim you want to form a government is an insult to democracy and disrespect to the mandate of this election.”

The Congress Legislature Party was huddled in a meeting Sunday morning and has begun the process of electing its leader. There are several contenders for the top job, including Pratapsing Rane, Luizinho Faleiro, and Digambar Kamat.

Meanwhile the BJP legislature party met on sunday and passed a resolution to seek the return of Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar to state politics.

The legislature party has also asked the central leaders to relieve Parrikar of his duties as a Central minister. BJP leaders in the state said that only Parrikar is capable of forging an alliance and keeping it going, BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral told Scroll.in.