As many as 10 MLAs of Congress have deserted the grand old party in Goa and joined the ruling BJP, which has effected another defection following Karnataka.
The group, led by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, met Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in the evening and gave him a letter, informing him about their breaking away from the party.
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The MLAs include Atanasio Monserratte, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred DSa, Nilkant Halarnkar and Isidor Fernandes.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was present when the group arrived at the Assembly complex around 7.30 pm. Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo was also present.
CM Sawant said the 10 Congress MLAs, along with their opposition leader, have merged with the BJP.
“The strength of the BJP has now risen to 27. They had come for the development of the state and their constituency. They have not put forward any condition, they have joined BJP unconditionally.”
Kavlekar said they joined the BJP “because the CM is doing good work”. “I was leader of Opposition, but despite that, development work in my constituency could not be done. Despite being the single largest party, we (Congress) could not form the government.”
Goa Assembly Speaker Rajesh Patnekar said he got two letters. “10 Congress MLAs gave one letter to me saying that they are merging with the BJP. The second letter was given by CM Pramod Sawant saying that the strength of BJP has changed. I have accepted both the letters.”
Goa Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo said the Congress MLAs merged with the BJP under Schedule 10 of Constitution.
With 10 MLAs changing sides, the strength of Congress in the House would be reduced to five. Goa Forward Parrty and Independents have three legislators each, while one MLA each is from NCP and MGP.
Sawant was sworn in as CM in March this year, after the death of then-CM Manohar Parrikar.