Goa Congress legislators Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday evening, reported News18. Shirodkar confirmed the development after meeting BJP President Amit Shah in Delhi.
“We are joining the BJP today,” said Shirodkar. “We expect two-three more MLAs to come, not today, but in the coming days.”
The resignations mean that the Congress’ strength in the 40-member Assembly has gone down from 16 to 14. The Manohar Parrikar-led government has the support of 14 BJP MLAs, three each from the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three Independents.
Goa Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant said that he had received the resignations. “Congress legislators Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte faxed their resignations as members of the Assembly to my office,” he said.
Shirodkar and Sopte on Monday night left for Delhi, PTI reported. A little before their departure, Goa Health Minister and BJP MLA Vishwajit Rane also left for Delhi.
Sopte represents Mandrem constituency and defeated former BJP Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar in the Assembly election last year. Shirodkar represents Shiroda constituency.
However, BJP leader and former Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar seemed to be upset with Sopte’s defection to the BJP. “I was not taken into confidence by the BJP before taking Sopte into the party,” PTI quoted him as saying. He said there was no reason for Sopte to switch over to the BJP. “Developmental works proposed by Sopte were approved by Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. He [Sopte] had himself said that the BJP never gave him any step-motherly treatment for being a Congress MLA.”
The Congress, on the other hand, said the defections were not a setback for the party. “We may have been reduced by two numbers, but our efforts to form the state government will continue,” state’s party spokesperson Nilkant Halarnkar told PTI. “They [the BJP] have taken two of our MLAs and we will get four from their camp.” But he refused to disclose the names.
The Congress’ Goa unit on Monday had written to President Ram Nath Kovind to warn against the dissolution of the state Assembly by Parrikar through “foul play”, ANI reported. The party told Kovind in a letter that it was willing to prove its strength “at any given time” and form the government. Parrikar’s ill health had led to an absence of administration in the state, claimed the Congress.
Parrikar, who was undergoing treatment for a pancreatic ailment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, was discharged on Sunday and returned to Goa. He has been suffering from the ailment since February, and was admitted to AIIMS on September 15.