The police tried their best to keep them out of sight, but the 100 or so protesters held their ground. As Manohar Parrikar of the Bharatiya Janata Party made his way to Goa’s Raj Bhavan to be sworn in as the state’s new chief minister on Tuesday evening, they waved placards saying “I want my vote back” and “No horse-trading” and broke into jeers. “Shame,” they yelled. “Chor, chor” (thief, thief).
The small demonstration had been put together on social media by people using the hashtag #NotMyCM.
“I am a first-time voter,” said a young woman named Rhea Sequeira who was at the protest. “Whom I voted for is immaterial, but I feel like my vote has been usurped. This is unacceptable and I wanted to show my anger.”
The protest was the culmination of a wave of anger that had begun to build up in several pockets of the coastal state since Saturday, as the results of elections to its 40-member assembly became clear. The ruling BJP won only 13 seats. Eight of the 12 ministers of the government run by the BJP in an alliance with the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party lost their seats. Among them was Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar.
No party won a majority, but the Congress emerged as the single largest entity, with 17 seats. The other seats went to regional parties and independents.
Many expected the Congress to form the government with the support of the Goa Forward Party, which had three seats, and some of the three independent candidates. But on Sunday, the BJP pulled off a surprise when it announced that Parrikar would return to the state to become chief minister in a government that had obtained the support of Goa Forward, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the three independents.
The Congress attempted to block the BJP by filing a petition in the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the judges ruled that Parrikar and his cabinet could be sworn in, but needed to prove his majority on the floor of the house on Thursday.
Anger at decision
This decision convinced the protestors to come out with hastily painted signboards.
“I am here to insist that due process of governance be followed and our popular mandate is not hijacked by greedy interests who are selling Goa,” said a protestor named Anjali Sen Gupta. “I can’t understand why the Governor is in such a hurry to get the government formed. Give the single largest party the chance to prove its majority. She should have followed the law of the land. Is anyone above the law of the land?”
Added a man named Eric Pinto, “The BJP lost the mandate. This is a betrayal of the electoral process.”
Cars with Goa Forward Party flags drew especially loud hoots from the protesters. The party’s leader, Vijai Sardesai, had earned a reputation for being a trenchant critic of the BJP and Manohar Parrikar in particular. This, said people from his constituency, is what led them to vote for him. So his decision to join the government seemed particularly outrageous.
“It’s a shame that this government is facing a demonstration on its first day itself” said lawyer Aires Rodrigues. He said the government was “illegitimate” and had “come in through the back door”, after it got a drubbing in the polls.
Said architect Amita Kanekar: “The Governor has not acted as a Constitutional authority but like a BJP leader. It is a betrayal of the people, The governor has betrayed her post, The Goa Forward Party has betrayed its mandate and its voters and the BJP has upturned the people’s vote.”
Earlier in the day Scroll.in discussed the BJP’s decision with three Goan Padma Shri winners.
Lawyer Norma Alvares said that the mandate was clearly against the ruling dispensation. “It was very clear that people of Goa, by and large, did not want the present BJP government to continue,” she said. “And what was the clear mandate given in favour of the Congress, although they by themselves fell short of a majority, it was incumbent upon the Governor to first call the party with largest number of votes to ask them if they were able to form the government. So we feel very cheated in this election and this is clearly not what was expected and what was right and proper...”
Fashion designer Wendell Rodricks said, “Which ever way one looks at the political events in Goa, we as Goans are back to square one regarding the party that rules Goa. There are no new faces nor intentions for the betterment of the state and its people. Instead it is obvious that only selfish private interests and amassing of money is at the core of Goan politicians. The state and Goans are last on their minds”.
Educationist and writer Dr Suresh Amonkar said: “All I can say is that whoever gets an opportunity to form the next government should be committed to the welfare and development of Goa and to the welfare of all its people.”
In a speech shortly after his swearing in ceremony, Chief Minister Parrikar attempted to address the criticism. He said that said his government represented the majority of Goans, going by the vote percentages of the four groupings that comprise what he called the “post poll” alliance. Together, these groups accounted for over 55 % of the vote share, Parrikar said.
However, as critics pointed out, all the parties and independents who have now allied with the BJP were all elected on an anti-BJP plank, defeating BJP candidates in their constituencies.