Ten Congress MLAs officially joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday in the presence of party Working President JP Nadda in New Delhi, PTI reported. This came a day after the lawmakers resigned from the Goa Congress Legislative Party and merged with the BJP.
Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and the 10 lawmakers arrived in New Delhi on Wednesday night to meet BJP President Amit Shah and Nadda.
The leaders have reportedly held meeting to discuss a possible reshuffle in the state Cabinet. However, there were no details or official comments over what transpired in the meeting among the top leaders.
Earlier in the day, Sawant refused to speculate if any minister from his government will be dropped to make way for the new legislators into the Cabinet.
Reports said that Sawant was likely to drop four ministers to accommodate the new legislators. 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.
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. 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.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi also joined a protest at Parliament after the defections. They shouted slogans and carried placards of “Save Democracy”. They accused the BJP of “killing democracy” by taking their lawmakers in various states.
The crisis in the Goa Congress has come even as the party is struggling to retain power in neighbouring Karnataka. Its coalition with the Janata Dal Secular is on the verge of collapse after 16 MLAs resigned.
Former Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar appeared to oppose the induction of the MLAs. “The words like trust and commitment which were at the core of the BJP during Manohar Parrikar’s time ceased to exist on March 17 [the day on which Parrikar died],” Utpal Parrikar told PTI.