11 Jul 2019
Amid Karnataka crisis, 10 Congress MLAs quit in Goa
Written byShalini Ojha
Among those who dumped Congress is Chandrakant Kavlekar, the leader of the opposition in the assembly.
With this defection, Congress is left with only five MLAs in the state.
Here's what happened.
BJP's strength in Goa assembly has now risen to 27
The MLAs who quit Congress are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Jennifer, Atanasio Monserrate, Antonio Fernandes, Nilakanth Halarnkar, Clafacio Dias and Wilfred D'Sa.
They requested assembly speaker Rajesh Patnekar to merge their group with BJP, and he accepted.
With this, BJP's strength in 40-member assembly rose to 27.
The lawmakers are expected to meet BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday.
On stunning development, CM Sawant said MLAs joined BJP 'unconditionally'
"10 Congress MLAs, along with their Opposition Leader, have merged with the BJP. They had come for the development of the state and their constituency. They have not put forward any condition, they have joined BJP unconditionally," said Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Won't these MLAs be disqualified under anti-defection law? Apparently, not
As it turns out, Congress MLAs won't be disqualified under the anti-defection law.
According to an amendment which came to force in 2004, defections are only allowed if two-thirds or more of another party's strength, decide to switch over.
Since these legislators make for two-thirds of Congress strength in Goa, they will remain in the assembly.
Patnekar said only their seating arrangement will change.
After leaving Congress, Kavlekar said party failed to form government
About the decision, Kavlekar said the MLAs switched over to BJP because they wanted development for their respective constituencies.
"If no development is done, how will people choose us next time? They (Congress) couldn't fulfill 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," he added.
Despite emerging as single largest party, Congress couldn't govern Goa
After 2017 Goa assembly polls, Congress emerged as the single-largest party but failed to form a government. With just 13 MLAs, BJP swept the opportunity and formed the government with the support of Goa Forward Party, Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three independents.
The allies only had one condition that Manohar Parrikar should remain as Chief Minister.
Notably, Parrikar passed away in March.
Leader, credited for 'negotiating' merger, said he isn't eyeing ministry
Atanasio Monserrate, who has just two months ago snatched Panjim seat from BJP in by polls, is said to be the "negotiator". But he denied it.
"We got together and said this is the best way out as far as development is concerned. I am not looking out for any ministry," Monserrate told IE.
When asked about the timing (considering Karnataka crisis), Monserrate said it's a "fantastic coincidence".
Naturally, Goa Congress President blamed BJP for decision of MLAs
Commenting on the turn of events, President of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee Girish Chodankar said it was time for the party to go "back to grassroots level". He also held BJP responsible for the "merger".
"Despite having clear numbers, BJP CM Pramod Sawant indulging in such unethical practices has displayed his fear to face the united opposition in the upcoming Assembly session," he said.
The new BJP members could be made ministers
Currently, Congress has just five MLAs in the state, namely Ravi Naik, Luizinho Faleiro, Pratapsingh Rane, Digambar Kamat, and Alex Reginaldo. The first four of the lot have served as Chief Ministers.
Reportedly, the lack of unity and poor leadership within Congress drove the MLAs away.
In all probability, BJP will now drop a few cabinet ministers to make way for new inductees.
Meanwhile, Congress is fighting for survival in Karnataka
The setback in Goa comes at a time when Congress is already fighting for breath in Karnataka.
Its coalition government with JD(S) has come extremely close to collapse after legislators quit.
On Saturday, 13 MLAs- three from JD(S) and 10 from Congress quit. They were followed by two independents, and on Wednesday two more MLAs dumped the government.