Trouble for the Congress party, which is already grappling with the Karnataka crisis, has deepened after ten MLAs out of its total strength of fifteen in Goa defected to the state’s ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Wednesday. The leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Chandrakant Kavlekar, was also among the Congress lawmakers, who defected.
In the latest, the 10 Goa Congress MLAs who defected yesterday have left with the Goa Chief Minister, Pramod Sawant, for Delhi, Thursday, to meet Union Home Minister, Amit Shah and the party working President, JP Nadda.
Pramod Sawant said that no decision has yet been taken, regarding the reshuffle in his cabinet. Talking to reporters, Sawant said that the party’s central leadership will take a call in this regard.
The state assembly speaker, Rajesh Patnekar, yesterday, accepted the MLAs request to merge their group with the BJP. “Ten Congress members of the legislative assembly have merged with the BJP. Chief minister Pramod Sawant has also informed this office that the strength of the BJP in the (40-member) state assembly has increased to 27. I have accepted both the requests,” Patnekar said.
Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar: Today 10 Congress MLAs gave one letter to me that they are merging with BJP. The second letter was given by Goa CM Pramod Sawant that strength of BJP has been changed. I have accepted both the letters. pic.twitter.com/UUeNQrRLWZ
— ANI (@ANI) July 10, 2019
The 10 Congress MLAs who defected the party are:
- Chandrakant Kavlekar
- Isidore Fernandes
- Francis Silveira
- Filipe Neri Rodrigues
- Atanasio Monserrate
- Antonio Fernandes
- Nilakanth Halarnkar
- Clafacio Dias
- Wilfred D’Sa
The 5 members left with the Congress are:
- Digambar Kamat
- Luzinho Faleiro
- Ravi Naik
- Pratapsingh Rane
- Aliexo Reginaldo
As two-third Congress MLAs have quit the party, they will evade the anti-defection law and hence will remain as MLAs. At present BJP has 17 MLAs, and it is running the government with the support of Goa Forward Party and independent MLAs. After the 10 MLAs formally join BJP, the ruling party will have 27 MLAs in the 40-member assembly, and it will not need the support of others.
Chandrakant Kavlekar, leader of Opposition in the Assembly said that the 10 MLAs were forced to join the ruling party as they were frustrated in the opposition. “We have been in the opposition for so long. And to continue in the opposition at the cost of development in our constituencies was not possible. We have joined to strengthen the hand of the chief minister as well as to ensure development in our constituencies,” Kavlekar said.
One of the defected Goa Congress MLA, Filipe Neri Rodrigues said, “We have already joined the BJP. We are part of it now. Its the collective opinion of all the Congress legislators and BJP has got the mandate of people. What we could not deliver to the people in Goa being in the opposition, we will also try to take benefit of this government to the people”.