With the Supreme Court asking the BJP to prove its majority in the Goa assembly on Thursday, new CM Manohar Parrikar today said another independent MLA has supported his coalition government, raising its tally to 22. "There has been a speculation for the last two days if the BJP has really got the majority required to form the government and here we are; we have 22 legislators with us," Parrikar told reporters after taking oath at Raj Bhavan. Earlier on a Congress' plea for a stay on Parrikar's swearing-in ceremony, a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar, in a special sitting, requested Goa Governor Mridula Sinha to summon the House for the floor test for which the session will commence at 11 AM on March 16. Led by Parrikar, the Goa legislature party had staked its claim on Sunday to form the government claiming support of 21 MLAs, including 13 of the BJP, three each of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party (MGP) besides two independents. Responding to reporters' query, Parrikar said another independent MLA has given support to the coalition, taking its tally to 22, two more than the halfway mark of 20 in the 40-member House. While independents Rohan Khaunte and Govind Gawade have already backed the BJP-led coalition and even took oath with Parrikar as ministers today, the third independent MLA Parrikar referred to is Prasad Gaonkar (Sanguem). "Our alliance partners took this decision to support us in the larger interest of Goa. Three independents have given us the support. Their support is only for the sake of Goa's development and state's speciality which is called 'goenkarponn' (Goanness).
I am very thankful to them. "Though the mandate is fractured, all the alliance partners have come together to take (our) number in assembly to 22," Parrikar said. When contacted, Gaonkar said, "I have given my letter of support to the BJP-led government. And my support is unconditional." Parrikar exuded confidence that the BJP would prove its majority on the floor of the House on March 16. "The day after tomorrow the procedure of proving majority on the floor of the House would be completed. Let everyone be very clear that this government will last its full term," the CM said. He said the portfolios would be allocated to the nine MLAs, who took oath with him, after the majority is proved on the floor of the House. In the 40-member House, the Congress is the single largest party with 17 seats, followed by the BJP 13, GFP 3, MGP 3, NCP 1 and three independents. While the MGP is the erstwhile ally of BJP, the GFP has won three seats in the debut contest, interestingly against the BJP candidates. All three GFP MLAs Vijai Sairdesai, Vinod Palyekar and Jayesh Salgaonkar took oath as ministers today. Among three MGP candidates who are backing BJP, Sudin Dhavlikar and Manohar Ajgaonkar were sworn-in. "We have the numbers to form the government. We have more than 21 MLAs with us with the support of alliance partners," Goa BJP unit General Secretary Sadanand Tanawade said. When asked about the numbers the Congress had mustered to reach the magic figure of 21, the Congress Goa Chief Luizinho Faleiro refused to elaborate and said, "the strength would be shown on the floor of the House.
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