Hours after Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant dropped four alliance ministers from his cabinet, three Congress rebels and a BJP leader were sworn in as ministers in the Goa Cabinet on Saturday.
Congress defectors Chandrakant Kavlekar, Jennifer Monserrate and Filipe Nery Rodrigues and lone BJP minister Michael Lobo took oath as ministers at the Raj Bhavan in Panaji.
Kavlekar, a former leader of Opposition, is likely to be appointed as the deputy chief minister, the post previously held by Vijai Sardesai.
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 to accommodate the Congress defectors.
“I have asked three GFP ministers and Khaunte to resign from the cabinet. I have given them the instructions as per the orders from my high command,” Sawant was earlier quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The four ministers had earlier 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.
10 Goa Congress MLAs split away from the party and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) late on Wednesday.
The 7 other Congress MLAs who are part of the rebel group are Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, 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.