Two Goa Congress MLAs quit, join BJP

Two Goa Congress MLAs quit, join BJP

Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte being felicitated by Railway Minister Piyush Goyal upon joining the BJP in New Delhi on Tuesday. PTI

In a boost to the BJP, two Congress MLAs, who resigned from the Goa Assembly, are set to join the saffron party amid its vigorous efforts to strengthen the thin majority of its alliance government in the state.

Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte met BJP president Amit Shah here on Tuesday and later said they will be joining the party.

BJP sources said more opposition MLAs may join its ranks.

Both legislators have quit as MLAs. Their departure will bring down the effective strength of the 40-member state assembly, denting the Congress' attempts to cobble up a majority to replace the Manohar Parrikar-led alliance government.

Parrikar has been critically ill for a while, causing some unrest among a few of the BJP's allies.

In Goa, Assembly Speaker Pramod Sawant said Shirodkar and Sopte had faxed their resignations as members of the Assembly to his office.

"We have received their resignations," Sawant told PTI.

Sopte (54) represented the Mandrem Assembly constituency in North Goa district and Shirodkar (66) was elected from Shiroda in South Goa district.

Both the legislators had gone to Delhi on Monday night, fuelling speculation that they might join the BJP.

Goa was witnessing hectic political activity in view of Parrikar's prolonged absence from office due to ill health. He is currently being treated by doctors from the state-run Goa Medical College and Hospital at his private residence at Dona Paula near Panaji.

In the 40-member Goa Assembly, the Parrikar government has the support of 23 MLAs. These comprise 14 BJP MLAs, three each from the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as well as three Independents.

The strength of the Congress, which has so far been the single largest party with 16 MLAs, will now come down to 14. 

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