Cong rebels inducted in BJP; Goa ruling allies nervous

BJP Working President JP Nadda with Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant (yellow shirt), Chandrakant Babu Kavlekar, the leader of opposition in the Goa Assembly, and other Goa Congress rebel MLAs, in New Delhi on Thursday. PTI photo

On a day of hectic political developments, the 10 rebel Congress MLAs, who split the Opposition party and joined the BJP late on Wednesday, were formally welcomed into the ruling party by BJP working president J P Nadda in Delhi on Thursday.

The MLAs are expected to meet BJP national president Amit Shah later on Thursday night. 

The mass induction, could have repercussions on the current political alignment of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s Cabinet, with alliance partners already bracing to face the axe.  

Meanwhile, the Congress, whose strength has been reduced to 5 MLAs in the 40-member Goa legislative Assembly, has sent All India Congress Committee secretary in-charge of the Goa desk Dr A Chellakumar to the coastal state, who has begun interactions with party leaders and MLAs claiming the party’s agenda was to rebuild the political outfit from the grassroots. 

Earlier on Thursday, Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar who led the Congress rebellion, once again reiterated from Delhi, that the party was a divided house, which is why the 10 MLAs collectively decided to join the BJP. 

“We lost the chance to form a government in 2017 because of infighting. As MLAs who want to develop constituencies, we collectively took the decision to quit the party,” Kavlekar told DH. 

Some of the new inductees, including Kavlekar, Atanasio Monserrate, among others are expected to be sworn-in as ministers on Friday.   

Meanwhile, in Goa, the induction has put BJP’s alliance partners in a tizzy, with Goa Forward which has three MLAs — all of them Cabinet ministers — preparing to face the worst. 

The party’s state president Vijai Sardesai, who is deputy chief minister, said that it was up to the BJP to decide the fate of the current coalition and its ministerial quota. 

“They (BJP) have the numbers now. They have to tell us what is our role,” Sardesai said, while ruling out a merger with the BJP. 

In a touch of histrionics, Sardesai also invoked the memory of former chief minister the late Manohar Parrikar, who he said had been instrumental in patching together the coalition government in 2017, while urging the BJP High Command to not upset the current ruling alliance combination. 

Chellakumar, who met several Opposition party leaders, hinted that the party would file disqualification petitions against the 10 rebel MLAs, while also saying that “efforts would be made to rebuild the party from grassroots”. 

“We are taking legal counsel. The party will file disqualification petitions both in Court and before the Goa Speaker,” Chellakumar said.

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