Goa Public Works Department Minister Nilesh Cabral on Sunday resigned from the Cabinet to make way for Alexio Sequeira, one of the eight Congress MLAs who defected to the Bharatiya Janata Party in September 2022, reported PTI.

Sequeira will be inducted in his place at 7 pm.

Rumours of a Cabinet reshuffle since Chief Minister Pramod Sawant formed the government in Goa in 2019 have been rife since last year’s defections. Former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo were among those who switched sides.

Talks of a reshuffle gained prominence after Cabral said on Saturday that senior BJP leaders spoke to him about making a “sacrifice” to accommodate one of the eight MLAs, reported The Indian Express.

Representing the Curchorem constituency in south Goa, Cabral also held the law and judiciary, environment and climate change and legislative affairs portfolios in the state.

In his resignation letter addressed to Sawant on Sunday, Cabral said: “As requested by you and the senior members of the party, due to commitments you have previously made, I tender my resignation from your Cabinet of ministers.”

Sawant told PTI it was the “party’s decision”.

“Cabral is a core member of the party,” Sawant said. “Party persons have to [make] sacrifices during such a situation.”

The BJP has split the Congress in Goa twice over three years despite 37 of the party’s candidates taking “loyalty pledges” in the presence of former party chief Rahul Gandhi ahead of the Assembly elections in February 2022.

The defections gave the BJP a majority in the Assembly with 28 out of 40 seats, one more than the party’s previous tenure in Goa. The Opposition was reduced to just seven MLAs – three from the Congress, two from the Aam Aadmi Party and one each from the Revolutionary Goans Party and the Goa Forward Party.