Protest in Goa as Hindu party forms government

The Bharatiya Janata Party has managed to form a government despite losing the popular vote
Protest in Goa as Hindu party forms government

People protest as newly-elected representatives join Goa’s new BJP-led government on March 14. (Photo by Bosco Eremita)

Unrest continues in India's Goa state as secular groups were joined by Catholics in the streets angry at the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who managed to take power despite losing the popular vote.

The incumbent BJP won 13 out of 40 seats in the recently concluded elections for the state legislature but quickly gained the support of two smaller parties and some independent candidates to form a majority government.

Goa governor Mridula Sinha has been accused of not following tradition when she failed to first call on the secular Congress party that emerged as the single largest party in the election with 17 seats.

Jurist Fali S. Nariman said the governor ignored the Indian Constitution and legal precedents that require the leader of the single largest party, Congress in this case, to form the new government. 

Catholic priests such as Father Eremito Rebelo joined the protest. He said the popular vote clearly went against the BJP who originally came to power in 2012 winning 21 seats in a result that saw the Congress party only win nine.

The BJP maneuver to form the government triggered ongoing protests that have seen people raising placards reading, "Death of democracy." Protesters have also been waving black flags outside the governor's residence even as the cavalcade of the ministers entered for the oath-taking ceremony. The BJP government was sworn in March 14.

They claimed that the representatives who allied with the BJP betrayed their supporters. They said the governor should be dismissed for not honoring the  tradition with regards to government formation.

"We cannot accept a BJP government," Father Rebelo, parish priest of Our Lady of Snows Church in Rachol told 

The BJP government of the past five years has "repeatedly breached trust" by "destroying the environment, extending mining leases and helping the proliferation of casinos," he said.

"They have been the worst government in decades. The damage done in its short tenure will have far-reaching consequences for the Goan people," the priest added.

Goa, India’s smallest state since its inception in 1962, has 28 percent of Catholics from among its 1.8 million mostly Hindu population. Goa, considered a Catholic stronghold, was a Portuguese colony for 451 years from 1510 and served as a springboard for missionary activities in Asia.

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