Deserters roil Congress’s plan to upstage BJP in Goa2 min read . Updated: 17 Oct 2018, 04:58 AM IST
ResignationsofShirodkar, Sopte brings down Congress's strength to 14, the same as BJP's
Mumbai: Two Congress legislators in Goa on Tuesday resigned their seats and joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), reducing the party’s strength in the 40-member Assembly to 14 and dealing a setback to its effort to form the government.
On Monday, the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind asking him to direct the governor to invite the Congress to form the government as it was the single largest party with 16 MLAs. However, Tuesday’s resignations of Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte bring the two parties on par with each other.
The Congress also petitioned the President that the governor should be urged to ensure that the Assembly is not dissolved.
After meeting BJP president Amit Shah in the national capital, Shirodkar and Sopte joined the BJP, which leads a coalition government in the coastal state with allies Maharashtravadi Gomantak Paksha (MGP), Goa Forward (GF), and three Independents. Their resignations necessitates by-elections in their constituencies.
A Goa BJP core committee member, who accompanied Shirodkar and Sopte in Delhi, said that the two will contest the by-elections on BJP tickets, conceding that “there could be some heartburn among the BJP cadres and former chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar who was defeated by Sopte in the 2017 Assembly elections."
The MGP and GF have three legislators each and both the parties have pledged support to the BJP though they have stepped up demands for restoring stability and governance in Goa in view of chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s prolonged absence because of illness.
MGP leader and public works department minister in chief minister Parrikar’s cabinet Sudin Dhavalikar and GF leader and city and town planning minister Vijay Sardesai are likely to meet Shah in Delhi on Wednesday.
The Congress in Goa is a “leaderless party and the current split in the party is the result of a leaderless party", said the MGP leader in Panaji on Tuesday.
The BJP should make efforts to ensure that the government completes its full term, Sardesai said on Monday.
Parrikar, who has been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer since February, was moved to Goa on Sunday after being discharged from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. The 62-year-old chief minister is at an intensive care unit set up at his residence in at Dona Paola, Panaji.
The Goa BJP core committee met in state capital Panaji on Monday to begin the process of selecting a new chief minister, according to the core committee member quoted above.
“We have started the process. We are talking to our legislators and allies," said the BJP leader.