Panaji, Nov 6:
Amid reports that he may join the union cabinet, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar is meeting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators here Thursday.
The meeting, to be held at the chief minister’s official residence, will also be attended by Goa party president Vinay Tendulkar and organising secretary Satish Dhond.
While the official agenda of the meeting has not been shared with most legislators, party sources said it could be a formal communication by Parrikar about his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi vis-a-vis a role in New Delhi and, in that eventuality, choosing a successor.
“Even if the chief minister’s name has been shortlisted along with others for the defence ministry, we have to prepare for a contingency,” a party source told IANS.
On his arrival at the Dabolim airport, the Goa Chief Minister told reporters he would comment on reports of his induction in the union cabinet only after an “official announcement” is made.
Parrikar, the state BJP president and the party’s organising secretary in Goa Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah.
The meeting came amid speculation that Parrikar would be appointed the country’s next defence minister.
“Let there be an official announcement. Until then I cannot say anything,” Parrikar said.
Parrikar also said he would think about the subject only after he gets a “request from (the) prime minister”.
Emerging from the meeting with Modi Wednesday, Parrikar had denied his visit to New Delhi had anything to do with his possible induction in the union cabinet, which is expected to be expanded within the week.
“The issue did not come up during our discussions,” Parrikar said.
The meeting of BJP legislators here is also expected to name a potential successor to Parrikar, in the eventuality that he does make to journey to the capital.
The top names in the reckoning are of Speaker Rajendra Arlekar, Health Minister Laxmikant Parsenkar and Deputy Chief Minister Francis D’Souza.
Arlekar has solid Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) credentials and also enjoys the confidence of Parrikar.
One potential blip on his record, however, is a petition by a lawyer activist pending in a trial court accusing the speaker of allegedly amassing disproportionate assets.
Parsenkar has been a state chief of the BJP on two occasions and like Arlekar has traditionally enjoyed the confidence of the chief minister.
On Wednesday, both Arlekar and Parsenkar said they were not actively gunning for the top slot.
D’Souza, on the other hand who has avoided the media, has in the past been a rallying point for dissenting legislators within the BJP, especially the Catholic legislators within the party.
He is also one of BJP’s oldest minority faces. While his inconsistent health is a matter of concern, his appointment as chief minister could help the party appease the state’s 26 percent Catholic population.