Amid the ongoing political crisis in Karnataka, 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.
Kavlekar has 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. The Aam Aadmi Party in Goa has called the merger a betrayal of Goan voters.
Isidore Fernandes, Goa Congress MLA who merged with the BJP told ANI that they wanted to be “part of development”. “BJP is an inclusive party. Congress is a divided house where everyone is bothered about themselves.”
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.
Speaker Rajesh Patnekar formally confirmed the development late on Wednesday.
“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.
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.
Sawant also said that the merger had been okayed by the party leadership. All newly inducted MLAs will meet BJP President Amit Shah on Thursday.
For now, the BJP-led coalition government has a majority of 33 MLAs, including three MLAs from the Goa Forward party and three independent legislators.