More Headache for Congress as 10 Goa MLAs who Broke Away from Party Officially Join BJP
The lawmakers who joined the saffron party are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Atanasio Monserratte, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred D'Sa, Nilkant Halarnkar, Isidor Fernandes and Antonio Fernandes.
BJP Working President JP Nadda with Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and other MLAs in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI)
New Delhi: Ten 10 Congress MLAs from Goa on Thursday joined the BJP in presence of the party's working president JP Nadda and Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
The Congress on Wednesday had plunged into another crisis after a group of its MLAs in Goa, led by Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, merged with the ruling BJP, increasing the saffron party's strength to 27 in the 40-seat house.
The MLAs who joined the BJP with Kavlekar are Atanasio Monserratte, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred D'Sa, Nilkant Halarnkar, Isidor Fernandes and Antonio Fernandes.
The Congress, which had emerged as single-largest party after 2017 Assembly polls in the coastal state, has now been reduced to five legislators.
The letter of merger was handed over to Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in Sawant's presence on Wednesday evening. Patnekar later confirmed receiving the letter.
Earlier on Thursday, Sawant met BJP President Amit Shah and both leaders are believed to have held deliberations over a reshuffle in the state Cabinet. Sawant arrived in Delhi with the 10 MLAs and met senior BJP leaders, including Nadda.
There was no official word over what transpired in his meeting with Shah, also the Union home minister, at the latter's office in Parliament. Party sources said a Cabinet reshuffle in Goa is likely with the induction of the 10 MLAs.
Sawant will have to drop current ministers, many of whom are BJP allies whose support was crucial to his government's survival, to accommodate the defectors from the Congress.
With its numbers in the 40-member assembly swelling to 27, the BJP is no longer dependent on its allies, including Goa Forward party and Independents.
With the Congress accusing the BJP of "murder of democracy" over its MLAs' switchover, the Goa chief minister asserted that they have joined his party "willingly" and to push development work in the state.
Kavlekar, who was the leader of the opposition in the assembly before he spearheaded a coup in his own party and joined the BJP along with nine other MLAs, told reporters that they wanted development work in their constituencies. It was not possible if they were in the opposition, he claimed.
He also cited the "struggle" in the Congress, an apparent hit at the party's leadership crisis after its president Rahul Gandhi resigned following its rout in the recent Lok Sabha polls, and wondered how long they could have continued in such conditions.
He also praised policies of the state and central governments, saying they had made a good impact.
After the 2017 assembly polls, a hung assembly had emerged, with Congress winning 17 and BJP 13 seats. But the BJP outsmarted the Congress by cobbling together a coalition quickly. With steady erosion from its ranks, the Congress's strength is now only five.
(With inputs from PTI)
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