New Delhi, September 14:
The Goa legislative assembly on Wednesday witnessed heightened activity after reports emerged that as many as eight Congress MLAs, led by Michael Lobo and former chief minister Digambar Kamat, are set to join the Bharatiya Janata Party today. The MLAs’ meeting with the assembly is unusual as the assembly is not in session.
In the 40-member assembly, the ruling BJP has 20 seats, one short of the majority. The party enjoys the support of three independents and two members of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.
Meanwhile, state BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade also confirmed the development.
While none of the MLAs were available for comment, it is understood that the eight have begun formalities to convey their “voluntary” decision to the Speaker, who is in Delhi and is expected to arrive in Goa only later today.
An earlier attempt by Congress MLAs in July this year had fallen flat after the breakaway group had failed to gather the requisite numbers to switch to the BJP with five members refusing to join to breakaway camp while two others were dithering.
However, efforts by Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo to win over the other MLAs have continued in the weeks since. Lobo had recently travelled to Delhi, and on his return to Goa unconvincingly claimed that he was in Delhi to take part in the Congress protest against price rise and inflation. However, he wasn’t seen at the Congress protest in Delhi. Kamat too had denied reports that he had travelled to Delhi, but a local media house published a passenger list that showed Kamat’s as having booked a ticket to Delhi. It wasn’t known whether Kamat had actually made the trip.
Earlier, the Congress had moved a disqualification plea against both Kamat and Lobo accusing them of colluding with the BJP to break the Congress and merge with the former. The plea is still pending before the Speaker.
Goa has a history of defections and individuals changing parties having created a record for having thirteen chief ministers in 12 years between 1989 and 2000.
During the previous term of the Legislative Assembly, 10 MLAs merged with the BJP while 27 MLAs jumped ship from the party on whose ticket they were elected.