Shameful exercise of power, money, says Congress as 8 Goa MLAs join BJP

Eight Goa Congress MLAs joined the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday in the latest in a series of defections from the Opposition party.

Eight of the 11 Congress MLAs met chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday after holding a meeting in the chamber of the Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo in the state assembly. They passed a resolution to “merge” their group with the BJP.

The Congress MLAs included former chief minister Digambar Kamat, leader of Opposition Micheal Lobo, his wife Delilah Lobo, Kedar Naik, Rudolfo Fernandes, former Goa power minister Aleixo Sequeira, Rajesh Phal Dessai, and Sankalp Amonkar.

Former chief minister Digambar Kamat and Lobo led the lawmakers as they arrived at the state assembly even as the House is not in session. They have conveyed their voluntary decision to quit the Congress to Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar, who is in Delhi and expected to arrive in Goa later on Wednesday.

“We have joined the BJP to strengthen Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Pramod Sawant so that development works can be carried out in all constituencies. The Congress has commenced a Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. We have in Goa started the Congress Chhodo and BJP Jodo and we are doing this only to take forward the vision of the Prime Minister and to strengthen Sawant,” Lobo said.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said: “Today, Congress MLAs have merged with the BJP. The process will be completed. The MLAs, including Digambar Kamat, Micheal Lobo and those who have come with them, have come keeping in mind the vision of PM Narendra Modi to create a new India and for the development of Goa. They have joined the government and supported us. I welcome them. This will prove to be a historic decision in the development of Goa.”

The defections come months after a split in Congress was averted in the state In July after rebels failed to get the requisite numbers to switch to the BJP without attracting disqualification proceedings under the anti-defection law.

The three MLAs who remain with the Congress are Altone D’Costa, Yuri Alemao, and Carlos Ferreira.

Shameful exercise of power and money

Congress leaders have hit back with the ‘operation kichad’ jibe at the development in Goa and called it a shameful exercise of power and money.

“Operation Kichad of BJP in Goa has been fast tracked because of the visible success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. BJP is nervous. A daily dose of diversion & disinformation is handed out to undermine the Yatra. We remain undeterred. We will overcome these dirty tricks of the BJP,” said senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

AICC Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao said: “The destruction of democratic principles is in full display in Goa. Offering huge monies, ministries and inducements the BJP is trying to uproot the opposition. Shameful exercise of power and money by an authoritarian establishment.”

Meanwhile, AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also targeted the Congress for breaking away from the party to join the BJP. He asked why the Congress MLAs gave in. He also blamed the BJP for devaluing the electoral process, democracy and the Constitution of the country.