Crisis on Goa Congress, 6 of its 11 MLAs ready to join BJP
Panaji: Within four months of the BJP retaining the reins of the government, the Congress is holding on to just five of its 11 MLAs in the 40-member Goa Assembly.
After a day of drama on Sunday, the disgruntled Congress camp merged with the BJP as the breakaway group led by former chief minister Digambar Kamat failed to garner the support of the party’s stipulated two-thirds of its legislative strength. Works with eight legislators to evade anti-defection laws.
Till late in the night, it was not clear whether the strength of the Kamat group would increase.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi sent Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Wasnik to Goa to deal with the crisis. The Congress, which had asked its candidates to sign an affidavit and swear in front of a temple deity and a Catholic cross that they would not leave BJ P once elected, immediately broke the whip. The party’s Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao created a pressure to announce the removal of Kamat group member Michael Lobo from the post of Leader of the Opposition.
The development came on the eve of the two-week monsoon session of the Assembly beginning Monday.
Exactly three years ago, on 10 July, the Congress Legislature Party had split, with the then opposition leader Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavlekar leading the 10-member group and later joining the BJP.
As speculation arose about the merger of the MLA wing with the father of the new batch of disgruntled Congress MLAs, Rao held several meetings over the weekend. Congress blamed Kamat and Lobo for the partition.
On Sunday morning, Rao called a meeting of all Congress MLAs in Margao, but Kamat stayed away. Besides Kamat and Lobo, the separated group includes Saligao MLA Kedar Naik, Siolim MLA and Lobo’s wife Delilah Lobo, Nuvem MLA Alexi°Sikera and Kumbharjua MLA Rajesh Faldesai.
On not attending the meeting, Kamat said, “I was not called for the meeting in Margao. Dinesh Gundu Rao called me last night and I told him that I am a ‘retired injury’ and I would not like it. Somebody And take responsibility.”
Rao, who arrived in the state on Saturday, said, “These two (Kamat and Lobo) are working in tandem with the BJP to weaken the Congress and eliminate the Congress so that there is no one to stop the BJP’s authoritarian rule in the country. “
Terming it as “betrayal for personal gain”, he said the party will initiate whatever action is possible against the two MLAs.
Rao said Kamat, who got so much out of the Congress, was “indulging in cheap, dirty politics”. He described Lobo as “a traitor and a backstabber”.
Congress state president Amit Patkar blamed the BJP for trying to divide the Congress. “The party is not getting divided. If someone wants to be divided, they will have to resign and contest again and they will have to introspect and think what they will tell their voters;’ They said.
“The BJP was trying to create a two-third division. I am shocked by the amount being given to our MLAs,” Rao said.
BJP’s Union Minister Bhupendra Yadav had reached Goa in the morning to oversee the merger. However, CM Pramod Sawant said that he has come to discuss the work related to his departments.