The Congress party, which has been facing a critical leadership crisis at the national and state levels, received a fresh blow after a group of 10 Congress MLAs in Goa merged with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The latest development has taken the tally of BJP MLAs in the state legislative assembly to 27. Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar accused the ruling party of blackmailing Congress MLAs. Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has reached Delhi along with 10 Congress MLAs. Here are the key points:
1) The 10 leaders, who switched parties, are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Jennifer and Atanasio Monserrate, Antonio Fernandes, Nilakanth Halarnkar, Clafacio Dias and Wilfred D'Sa.
2) Chandrakant Kavlekar, the leader of opposition in the Assembly, blamed disunity among senior Congress leaders in Goa and lack of development in the Opposition MLAs' constituencies as some of the reasons for splitting from the main opposition party.
3) The tally of BJP MLAs in Goa Assembly rose to 27 from 17. The legislative strength of the Congress party has been reduced to five MLAs—Digambar Kamat, Luzinho Faleiro, Ravi Naik, Pratapsingh Ran and Aliexo Reginaldo.
4) Speaker Rajesh Patnekar on Wednesday said "My office received two requests today. A breakaway Congress group of 10 MLAs wrote to me informing of their split from the party. The CM has also informed me that the group had merged with the BJP and the strength of his party has increased to 27 MLAs. I have accepted both the requests," Patnekar said.
When asked if the merger was legal, Patnekar said: "I am not a legal expert. Whether it is legal or not, somebody has to see".
5) CM Pramod Sawant along with 10 Congress MLAs will on Thursday meet BJP President Amit Shah in New Delhi. Talking to PTI, Sawant said 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 J P Nadda.
6) Goa Congress chief Girish Chodankar alleged that Congress MLAs joined the BJP after falling prey to blackmailing or allurements. Instead of "one nation one election", what the BJP really wanted was "one nation one party"
7) Kavlekar said “We have joined with a positive thought. We had the opportunity in the past to form a government, but because of lack of unity among our senior MLAs, we were not in a position stake our claim."
When asked if he felt it odd that a leader of Opposition should join a ruling party, Kavlekar said: "Apart from leader of opposition, I am also an MLA of a constituency and it is my duty to ensure that my constituency is looked after".
8) Deputy Chief Minister and Goa Forward party president Vijai Sardesai said, "Nothing has changed. Only thing that has changed is that Manohar Parrikar is not there. Those (Central) BJP leaders who had talked to us during government formation are still in power and have become more powerful. It is their obligation to see that what is created in 2017 is not killed for any reason.”
9) Aam Aadmi Party convenor in Goa Elvis Gome said that the merger was shameful. "There is no opposition or ruling party in Goa. They are all one. Both Congress and BJP have betrayed their voters," Gomes said.
10) Utpal Parrikar, son of late Manohar Parrikar, said the saffron party has "taken a different direction" after his father's demise and that time will tell if it is the right one. "The words like trust and commitment which were at the core of the BJP during Manohar Parrikar's time ceased to exist on March 17 (when the former Goa chief minister and BJP leader died)," Utpal told PTI.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS)