In a dramatic turn of events in Goa, 10 of the total 15 Congress MLAs in the legislative assembly split to merge with the ruling BJP.
They met speaker of the Goa legislative assembly Rajesh Patnekar in the presence of Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant. Mr Patnekar confirmed receiving a letter from the 10 MLAs for merger with BJP and said that he had accepted it.
Speaking to reporters at the assembly complex in Porvorim, Mr Sawant said the step has been taken to strengthen BJP in Goa.
The Congress group which has split from the party is led by the leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar and includes Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Jennifer Monserrate, Atanasio Monserrate, Antonio Fernandes, Nilakanth Halarnkar, Clafacio Dias and Wilfred D’Sa.
Mr Kavlekar told reporters that the merger with BJP was aimed at the development of Goa and strengthening of the state government. He added that Congress had the opportunity in the past to form a government, but could not due to lack of unity.
The move significantly increases BJP’s strength in the house from 17 to 27 MLAs, while also consolidating the BJP-led state government, which is also supported by three legislators each from Goa Forward Party (GFP) and independents.
The development effectively means the BJP-led government now enjoys the support of 33 of the 40 MLAs in the house.
Following the move, the Goa assembly currently has 27 BJP legislators, five Congress MLAs, three each from GFP and independents, and one each from Nationalist Congress Party and Maharasthrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP).
In March this year, two of the three MGP MLAs had merged the party’s legislative wing with the BJP. Next session of the Goa legislative assembly begins on 15th July.