In what has become a severe backlash for the Congress party in Goa, a handful of legislators switched their sides and joined BJP as the opposition camp collapsed in the state in the midst of Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra to revive the party as the strongest contender against the BJP. The development has shocked the Congress leaders while it has awarded extra-mile support for the BJP in Goa's assembly.
On Wednesday, eight Congress MLAs in Goa, including former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, joined the ruling BJP in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and state BJP Chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade. As eight MLAs have joined the rival, Congress is left with three MLAs in the 40-member state assembly.
As eight MLAs, the two-thirds of the party strength, joined the BJP, they can't be disqualified under the anti-defection law. Congress leaders Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo were getting close to the BJP earlier in July after which the Congress leadership removed Lobo as Leader of Opposition. On Wednesday, these Congress MLAs met the Speaker when no assembly session was underway.
Their meeting sparked speculations across the political spectrum and Goa BJP Chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade then revealed that the MLAs are going to join BJP. After joining the BJP, Kamat said, "We are unhappy with Congress. We saw what happened with Ghulam Nabi Azad." "We will work with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Goa CM Pramod Sawant for the betterment of the state", he added.
Kamat further said that God told him to join the BJP. Addressing the reporters, he said, "I went to a temple, asked Gods & Goddesses that joining BJP is my mind, what should I do. God said, you go ahead, don't worry." His speech was going viral and the Congress party slammed the legislators for joining the BJP and said it is an act of betrayal.
According to PTI, Congress termed the move as the height of betrayal and shamelessness on part of the MLAs who had pledged to remain faithful to the people and the party after the Assembly elections. By citing the cross-over of Congress MLAs is part of BJP's Operation Kichad, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "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", Ramesh added. Congress spokesperson in Goa, Pawan Khera said, "The BJP used all kinds of tactics - central probe agencies, threats by goons, the lure of money- to do this because it is rattled by Bharat Jodo Yatra."
In the midst of a political tussle, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told the reporters that the decision is yet to be taken on the cabinet overhaul as the BJP's strength has increased in the assembly. He further claimed that eight Congress MLAs have joined BJP unconditionally. Earlier this March, Gao went to the assembly polls and BJP retained the power in the state. In the 40-member assembly, BJP and its alliance have 25 MLAs and with the support of eight Congress MLAs, the number has gone up to 33 for the ruling party. Of the rest of the seven seats, Congress has three, Aam Aadmi has two and Goa Forward Party and Revolutionary Goans Party have one each.
Goa | I went to a temple, asked Gods & Goddesses that this (joining BJP) is in my mind, what should I do... God said, you go ahead, don't worry: Former Congress MLA Digambar Kamat, after joining BJP (14.09) pic.twitter.com/Nne2X9Q3zI— ANI (@ANI) September 15, 2022