With hardly an hour left for the swearing-in of four new ministers at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday dropped four alliance ministers from his cabinet to accommodate the Congress defectors.
Sources at the State Secretariat said that the four ministers — Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, Vinod Palienkar, Jayesh Salgaocar (Goa Forward Party MLAs) and Rohan Khaunte (Independent MLA) — were dropped from the Cabinet and an intimation had been sent to Raj Bhavan, which is prepping up for the swearing-in ceremony.
The move has ended a daylong deadlock as the four ministers had refused to quit, despite a request made to them by Sawant on Friday.
Sardesai, who is also the president of the Goa Forward Party, had earlier maintained that the issue was being resolved “amicably”.
Sardesai on Saturday said that his party has maintained the “promise” given to late Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar that the Goa Forward Party will not destabilise the government.
Former leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, who led the Congress MLAs rebellion on Wednesday, is tipped to replace Sardesai as the Deputy Chief Minister, while another former Congress MLA Jennifer Monserrate is also likely to be sworn-in.
Adding on to the trouble of the grand old party in the country amidst the Karnataka political crisis, 10 Goa Congress MLAs split away from the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late on Wednesday.
The BJP in Goa engineered a split in the 15-member Congress legislature party and inducted the 10-member splinter group headed by the leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar into the BJP.
The 10 Congress MLAs who are part of the rebel group are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Jennifer and Atanasio Monserrate, Antonio Fernandes, Nilakanth Halarnkar, Clafacio Dias and Wilfred D’Sa.
The stunning development takes the tally of BJP MLAs from 17 to 27 in the state legislative assembly.
The development has brought down the legislative strength of the Congress party to a paltry five MLAs. It includes Digambar Kamat, Luzinho Faleiro, Ravi Naik, Pratapsingh Rane (all of whom have served as Chief Ministers) and MLA Aliexo Reginaldo.
Goa CM Pramod Sawant welcomed the development saying the merger of the breakaway group would help strengthen his government and help it to perform better.