In a serious setback to the Congress in Goa, two of its MLAs on Tuesday resigned from the party soon after they met BJP President Amit Shah in Delhi. Subhash Shirodkar said that he along with another MLA Dayanand Sopte will join the BJP on Tuesday.
“We expect 2-3 more MLAs to come, not today but in the coming days,” said Shirodkar.
Both Shirodkar and Sopte had left for Delhi on Monday night while being accompanied by AYUSH Minister Sripad Naik.
“Both the Congress MLAs will be resigning from Congress party on Tuesday and joining the BJP,” a senior BJP leader was quoted by news agency PTI.
Sopte had won from Mandrem assembly constituency by defeating the then incumbent chief minister of BJP, Laxmikant Parsekar, in the last year’s assembly polls. As for Shirodkar, he had emerged victorious from Shiroda constituency in the February 2017 elections.
Sopte told reporters at Goa airport that he was going on a ‘business trip.’ Shirodkar, for his part, evaded questions on whether he was going to join the BJP adding that ‘You will come to know if I do it.’ Goa Health Minister and BJP lawmaker Vishwajit Rane too had left for Delhi hours before the two Congress MLAs boarded the Delhi-bound flight. Rane too had first been elected on the Congress ticket before quitting the party to join the BJP.
This development comes a day after Goa Forward Party’s Vijai Sardesai said that the onus was on the BJP to ensure that the government in the state completed its full term.
Goa has been in the news for the poor health of its chief minister, Manohar Parrikar, who is undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer. The Congress has alleged that the reason why Parrikar was not being removed despite his poor health adversely impacting the governance because the latter knew too many secrets related to what’s being billed as Rafale scam.
Goa Congress President Girish Chodankar had told reporters in Panjim, “If they upset him, he may put those details in the public domain.” The state Congress president was reacting a day after it was reported that Parrikar had called his cabinet meeting at Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences last week. This had not gone down well with many on social media, where an overwhelming majority of users accused Parrikar of being greedy for power.
In the 40-seat Goa assembly, Congress has 16, while the ruling BJP 13. With the help of GFP, MGP, NCP and independent, the ruling alliance has a majority of 23 MLAs.