In a major political development on Wednesday evening, 10 of the 15 Congress MLAs – comprising two-third majority – merged their party’s legislative wing into the Bharatiya Janata Party, which now has a total strength of 27 legislators in the 40-member state legislative assembly.
The legislators led by former leader of the opposition Chandrakant ‘Babu’ Kavlekar and including Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate, Jennifer Monserrate, Isidore Fernandes, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Nilkanth Haldankar, Clafasio Dias, Antonio Fernandes, Wilfred D’Sa and Francisco Silveira handed over a letter to merge the two-third Congress legislature party into the BJP to Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in the presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo.
The Congress party is now left with only five MLAs namely Pratapsing Rane, Ravi Naik, Digambar Kamat, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco and Luizinho Faleiro.
“This merger was necessary to strengthen the government and to protect Goenkarponn in true sense. During the last three months, as the Chief Minister, I learnt that the common man was suffering and facing difficulties. This is to eliminate the sufferings of the common man. This government is of Goans and for Goemkarponn,” said Sawant while interacting with media persons at the Secretariat in Porvorim.
The Chief Minister said that the merger has taken place after obtaining consent of the BJP central leadership.
He said that BJP is yet to take any decision on reshuffle in the cabinet. When questioned about the status of BJP’s coalition with Goa Forward Party (GFP), he refused to speak and said that all the decisions will be taken on Thursday by the party leadership.
Taking a jibe at Deputy Chief Minister and GFP president Vijai Sardesai by
way of an indirect reference, Sawant said, “In the last three months when I took charge of the administration I learnt that common person was facing a lot of hardship, hence we had to take this decision (merger of CLP with BJP).”
Chandrakant Kavlekar said that all ten Congress MLAs joined BJP for the sake of development of their respective constituencies. “We have been in opposition for quite some time now and it was not possible to continue to remain in opposition, as people in our constituencies were suffering due to lack of development,” he said. He also praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sawant for their ‘commendable’ work in the country and state.
When questioned whether he and the other nine MLAs have been offered ministerial berths, Kavlekar kept mum and said that development of the constituencies would be the top priority.
Incidentally, state organisational secretary of BJP Satish Dhond had told the BJP workers from Tiswadi taluka on July 4 that ten Congress MLAs were desperate to join BJP.