Cong accepts rebel demands to save Kamat govt

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New Delhi, Jan 19: The political crisis in Goa seems to have been blown over with the Congress reportedly accepting almost all demands of the rebel MLAs, including those from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

As part of the truce, the Cabinet, headed by Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, will go in for an expansion in the next few days, coupled with a reshuffle of the portfolios. The four-day-old crisis, which threatened the survival of the seven-month old Congress-led government, was resolved with the intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi who reviewed the situation last night with Mr Kamat and senior AICC leaders, including Mr A K Antony, Mr Ahmed Patel and Mr B K Hariprasad.

NCP sources said a Coordination committee consisting of representatives from all the partners of the ruling Congress-led coalition would be formed to give a direction to the government on policy matters. It would also work as a mechanism to resolve all contentious issues among the coalition partners so that such issues do not precipitate to public spats.

"It is a kind of internal mechanism to settle all issues internally," sources said, pointing out that this was one of the demands of the NCP.

Mr Kamat last night held several rounds of talks with NCP leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel in Delhi.

Mr Kamat is expected to meet Mr Patel again to give final touches to the compromise plan before leaving for Panaji tonight.

It remains to be seen which of the present ministers will lose their chairs to accommodate the new ministers under the new formula.

However, there are clear indications that the key Finance and Home portfolios may go to the rebels who have been targeting Finance Minister Dayanand Narvekar and Home Minister Ravi Naik.

There are reports that the Kamat government has decided to scrap the "IT Habitat Plan," a key demand of the rebels. Interestingly, the Congress has been accusing the SEZ lobby or the Real Estate lobby of aggravating the crisis as part of a plan to dislodge the government with the help of its political opponents.

It is not clear whether the new plan would work totally and the government would be saved in the western state which has seen nearly 15 Chief ministers in 15 years amid the dubious distinction of being the politically unstable state.

The present crisis in Goa started on December 16 when three ministers -- Vishavajit Rane (Independent), Francisco alias Micky Patheco and Joace Philip (both NCP) --tendered their resignations to Governor S C Jamir.

In a House of 40, the ruling coalition has 23 members -- Congress(16), NCP(3), Save Goa Front(2) and Independents(2). United Goans Democratic partys unattached legislator Atanasio Monserratte gives issue-based support to the government. The opposition has 16 members with BJP(14) and Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (2).


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