Goa Deputy Chief Minister Sudhin Dhavalikar was dropped from the state Cabinet on Wednesday, hours after two MLAs from his Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party joined the Bharatiya Janata Party, Herald Goa reported.
Goa’s Governor Mridula Sinha accepted Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s recommendation that Dhavalikar will cease to be a part of the Council of Ministers with immediate effect, reported ANI.
The BJP’s strength in the 40-member state Assembly increased to 14 after the two legislators joined. The Congress too has 14 members.
“Two MGP MLAs Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar have joined BJP for the stability of the government,” Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told ANI. “Automatically, our strength has grown to 14.” Pauskar is likely to sworn in as minister on Wednesday night, according to Herald Goa.
On Tuesday, Dhavalikar had alleged there was a political conspiracy and his party member was “made to issue a letter” to the governor, according to PTI.
Ajgaonkar and Pauskar submitted a letter to Speaker Michael Lobo around 1.30 am. “MGP’s legislative wing has split,” Lobo told the news agency. “Two-third of MGP legislators formed a separate group and they are merging it with the BJP. All formalities as per the Constitution of India have been completed.”
Sudin Dhavalikar, who is the Marcaim legislator, was recently made Goa’s deputy chief minister when Sawant took over after the death of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Ajgaonkar, who is also the Goa tourism minister said, “As a Dalit, I was unsure of my existence in MGP. Bahujan Samaj leaders like Lavu Mamledar were sacked from MGP.” He added that the next government at the Centre will be formed by the BJP.
Pauskar said the oath-taking ceremony for him and Ajgaonkar will take place at noon on Wednesday in the presence of the governor. “We have happily joined BJP. We will accept whatever ministry will be given to us by Goa CM,” he said. “Sudin Dhavalikar should be dropped now. He will be dropped during working hours today.”
The Goa Congress has criticised the merger of the two parties. “The BJP has proved it is a threat to all its allies, this is a clear indication to all NDA partners all over the country just before Lok Sabha elections that any partnership with BJP will be detrimental to the existence of their own party,” its chief spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar was quoted as saying by ANI.
BJP MLA and Goa Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant was sworn in as the new chief minister around 2 am on March 19, hours after Parrikar was cremated at Miramar beach. Eleven leaders were also sworn in as Cabinet ministers, including Dhavalikar and Goa Forward Party chief Vijai Sardesai, who were made the state’s new deputy chief ministers. Sawant won the floor test in the Assembly the next day to prove the BJP’s majority.