Former Congress leader and ex-CM of Goa Digambar Kamat, who along with seven of 11 Congress MLAs in Goa switched to the ruling BJP Wednesday, told the media that he has switched to the saffron party fold after taking permission from God and God ‘agreed’.
The comment came when he was asked about the ‘pledge of loyalty’ he and other Congress leaders had taken in the month of February, days before the Goa election.
“About the oath which I had taken before God, I have gone before God and the Goddess and said that this (joining BJP) is in my mind. What should I do? In Goa, we have a system of taking prasad. Then God said you go ahead, don’t worry,” Kamat told reporters in Panaji, as he walked out of the state BJP headquarters on Wednesday afternoon.
Goa | I went to a temple, asked Gods & Goddesses that this (joining BJP) is in my mind, what should I do… God said, you go ahead, don’t worry: Former Congress MLA Digambar Kamat, after joining BJP (14.09) pic.twitter.com/Nne2X9Q3zI— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2022
On September 14, eight out of eleven MLAs of Congress in Goa, including former Chief Minister of Goa Digambar Kamat and leader of opposition Michael Lobo joined Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
With the shift of eight MLAs, Congress was reduced to three MLAs in the state. BJP, which has 20 MLAs out of 25 MLAs of NDA, is set to improve its number. Reports of Congress MLAs leaving the party came at the time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was on the “mission” to “jodo” India via his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra.’ The eight ‘rebels’ also had a meeting with the Goa CM Pramod Sawant.
After defecting to BJP Wednesday, the former Goa Chief Minister stated that he believes in God and though they had taken an oath not to leave the Congress prior to the election, he gave himself an easy out. “I went to the temple again and asked God what to do. God told me do whatever is best for you,” he told the media.
Congress asks Goa members to take ‘pledge of loyality’, Digambar Kamat had said ‘serious about this and will not allow any party to poach our MLAs’
Interestingly, in the run-up to the February 14 Goa Assembly elections, the Congress took 36 of its election candidates to the Mahalaxmi temple in Panaji and the Holy Cross Shrine in Bambolim on January 22, while the 34 men went to the Hamza Shah Dargah in Betim to promise that if elected, they would not defect.
The Congress candidates had taken the ‘pledge of loyalty’ in Rahul Gandhi’s presence. Congress had then, extensively publicised the pledge in order to reassure voters that its MLAs would not swap sides this time.
The Congress candidates made the same declaration in an affidavit signed in the presence of top party leader Rahul Gandhi on February 4.
At the time, Kamat said, “We are very serious about this and will not allow any party to poach our MLAs. We are god-fearing people. We have full faith in the Almighty. Hence, today we have taken a pledge that we will not defect.”
“We have taken a promise in front of temple, mosque and church. Today, we are taking an oath in front of Rahul-ji, our boss,” Sankalp Amonkar, another defectors, had said at the time.
The grand old party, which has been in opposition in Goa, since 2012, had reportedly asked its members to swear the ‘pledge of loyalty’ in order to avoid a rehash of the 2019 defection, in which ten of its 15 MLAs switched to the BJP overnight.
However, just six months later, in July, the Congress found itself in the midst of another defection storm. It had then accused Kamat and then-LoP Michael Lobo of colluding with the BJP to organise the defection of at least eight of its 11 MLAs and removed Michael Lobo from the position of the leader of opposition in the Goa state legislative assembly.