“How Can We Stop Them?” Goa Congress Leader To NDTV After 10 Join BJP


The switch means the BJP, which ruled with a wafer-thin majority, now has 27 seats in the 40-member house

Panaji, Goa:

After last week's implosion in Karnataka, where 18 lawmakers resigned and left the Congress-Janata Dal Secular alliance on the brink of collapse, the Congress faces more internal strife – this time in Goa, where party leaders Atanasio Monserrate and Chandrakant Kavlekar led 10 legislators into the BJP fold. The BJP has claimed the 10 joined on their own accord. The Congress disagrees.

"We welcome the Congress MLAs for a stable govt. They have merged with the BJP. We have done nothing. They said they want to join our party and we have welcomed them," Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant told reporters.

Congress insiders in Goa told NDTV that despite being aware of the BJP planning a rebellion, there was nothing they could do given the lack of leadership at the centre and the focus on the Karnataka crisis. The BJP simply had to make a move and faced no obstacle like they have in the South Indian state.

Ironically, Congress leadership has claimed they were in touch with these legislators over strategy to corner the BJP in the new Assembly session.

Sources also said infighting, the offer of money and pending cases against some rebel leaders, including Mr Monserrate, who last month had charges framed against him in a 2016 rape case, and Mr Kavlekar led to the switch.

"If they have a difference of opinion in the party's functioning or ideology we can take corrective measures. If someone is leaving for personal gain or monetary benefit how long can we stop them?" A Chellakumar, AICC in-charge for the state, told NDTV.

However, some BJP leaders are unhappy with Mr Monserrate's inclusion, arguing he would never have been allowed in by former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who died earlier this year.

"This is definitely a different path which my father had taken. This new path is taken by new state leadership. Only time will tell will this path take party," Utpal Parrikar, Manohar Parrikar's son, said.

The switch means the BJP, which ruled with a wafer-thin majority, now has the support of 27 lawmakers in the 40-member house. The Congress, which was the single-largest party after 2017 polls, now has only five. Four of those five are held by former chief ministers, leaving the party crippled in a state that is no stranger to political instability.

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