Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and 10 Congress MLAs who joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday are in New Delhi to meet BJP President Amit Shah, PTI reported. “I will be meeting BJP National President Amit Shah and Working President JP Nadda along with all the 10 MLAs who have merged with our party,” Sawant told the news agency.
However, Sawant refused to speculate if any minister from his government will be dropped to make way for the new legislators into the Cabinet. “I will not be able to say anything till I meet the leaders,” he added. The BJP-led government has the support of three Goa Forward Party MLAs and three Independents.
Meanwhile, Hindustan Times reported that Sawant is likely to drop four ministers to accommodate the new legislators. A swearing-in ceremony has been tentatively scheduled for 4 pm on Thursday, the newspaper quoted unidentified officials as saying. The chief minister is expected to drop all three Goa Forward Party MLAs and Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte. Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate, Velim legislator Filipe Neri Rodrigues and Michael Lobo may be accommodated in the new Cabinet.
“Ten Congress MLAs, along with their Opposition leader, have merged with BJP,” Sawant had said on Wednesday. “Strength of BJP has now risen to 27. They had come for development of the state and their constituency. They have not put forward any condition, they have joined BJP unconditionally.”
The lawmakers who defected from the Congress are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Babush Monserrate, his wife Jennifer Monserrate, Tony Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Clafasio, Wilfred De Sa, Nilkanth Halarnkar and Isidore Fernandes. The Congress was the single largest party in Goa after the 2017 elections to the 40-member Assembly, but the BJP tied up alliances to form the state government.
Meanwhile, the Congress sent senior leader A Chellakumar to take stock of the situation in Goa after the defections, PTI reported. Chellakumar arrived in the state on Wednesday night and began discussions with the remaining five legislators of the party to decide the future course of action.
The five MLAs will meet on Thursday to choose their new leader, Chellakumar told PTI. He alleged that the BJP was luring MLAs from Opposition parties by offering them crores of rupees.