A headless Congress moved from crisis to crisis as after the resignations in Karnataka, the party suffered a jolt in Goa where 10 of its 15 MLAs switched sides to join BJP.
Today (Thursday, July 11) they were reportedly brought to Delhi by Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant for meeting BJP president Amit Shah.
The group of the 10 Congress MLAs in Goa led by Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar merged with the ruling BJP yesterday, increasing the saffron party’s strength to 27 in the 40-seat house.
The letter of merger was handed over to Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in Sawant’s presence on last evening.The MLAs asked the Speaker for a separate sitting in the assembly. The monsoon session of the Goa assembly begins on July 15.
Sawant said that two thirds of the Congress Legislative Party — enough to avoid action under the anti-defection law — has merged with the BJP.
“10 Congress MLAs, along with their Opposition Leader, have merged with the BJP. The strength of the BJP has now risen to 27. They had come for development of the state and their constituency. They have not put forward any condition, they have joined BJP unconditionally,” Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
The Congress, which emerged as the single-largest party after the 2017 Assembly polls in the coastal State, is now reduced to five legislators.
The MLAs who joined the BJP along with Kavlekar are Atanasio Monserratte, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred D’Sa, Nilkant Halarnkar, Isidor Fernandes and Antonio Fernandes.
Kavlekar, who is said to be the leader of rebel lawmakers, said, “If no development is done, how will people choose us next time? They (Congress) couldn’t fulfil the promises they made. There were several opportunities to form the government but due to lack of unity among some senior leaders, it could never be done. So we did this.”
Last month, the Congress suffered a similar collapse in Telangana, where 12 of its 18 lawmakers crossed over to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s party.
Sawant, who is in Delhi, told news agency PTI that a decision on dropping any minister from the coalition partners in the State will be taken after meeting senior BJP leaders, including Shah and party’s working president JP Nadda.
Sawant said he reached Delhi on Wednesday night along with the 10 MLAs who merged with the BJP, increasing the saffron party’s strength to 27 in the 40-member House.
“I will be meeting BJP national president Amit Shah and working president J.P. Nadda along with all the 10 MLAs who have merged with our party,” he said.
The BJP-led state government currently enjoys the support of three MLAs of the Goa Forward Party and three Independents.