Panaji: The Congress on Wednesday alleged that the BJP was gearing up to call a one-day session of the Goa assembly on May 20 to elect a "reliable" Speaker as it was "expecting a spell of instability" after the results of four assembly bypolls are announced on May 23.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, however, dismissed the charge, claiming that while election of a Speaker was necessary as the post is currently vacant, no decision had been taken by the BJP-led coalition government about when the session was likely to be called to complete the formality.
Earlier, addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar told reporters that the BJP's plan to call a one-day session was a sign that it was expecting an adverse result to assembly bypolls on May 23 and they wanted to appoint a "reliable" Speaker who blindly follow the party's diktat.
"When governance was suffering for a year when Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was ill, the government and the Governor did not feel the need to call for a session and now for the appointment of a Speaker, they are calling a one-day session.
"We will launch an agitation across the state to stop the Governor from abetting the plans of the BJP just to keep control of the government by appointing a 'reliable' Speaker who will do whatever the party wants. The BJP knows that it will lose the assembly bypolls and its government will be in danger, which is why they are trying to appoint a 'reliable' Speaker in position before May 23," he alleged.
Both the BJP and Congress currently have 14 MLAs in the assembly and the coalition headed by the former party has a wafer-thin majority.
The post of Speaker fell vacant earlier this year, after incumbent Pramod Sawant was appointed as Chief Minister of the BJP-led coalition government, following the death of Parrikar on March 17.
Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo has been appointed as an officiating Speaker, but the BJP MLA's tirade against the ruling party's leadership in the recent past, has generated a trust deficit between Lobo and senior BJP leaders.
Kavlekar alleged that the BJP wanted to appoint a full-fledged, new Speaker, because Lobo tends to speak "honestly" about political and social issues.
"They do not want Lobo as a Speaker in case of political stability. They want someone who will do their bidding blindly. But we do not see the need for any urgency for the appointment of Speaker, when in the past the government and Governor did not call for a session when governance was suffering in the worst possible way due to Parrikar's illness," he added.
In response, Sawant accused the Opposition of indulging in speculation, adding that while it was essential to elect a Speaker, ahead of the monsoon session of the state assembly, no decision had been taken to call for an assembly session before May 23.
"There is no decision at a government level yet. I do not know where the news has come from. There is a need to elect a Speaker... That election can happen anytime. But there is no decision to hold the election on May 20. There was a discussion about election of Speaker, because we want to hold a monsoon session," he said.