Press Trust of india

Ditching pledge not to defect, 8 Congress MLAs join BJP in Goa

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Panaji:  Eight Congress MLAs in Goa, including former chief minister Digambar Kamat, on Wednesday joined the ruling BJP, in a body blow to the opposition party which is now left with just three MLAs in the 40-member state Assembly.

The eight MLAs joined the BJP in presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and state BJP chief Sadanand Shet Tanavade.

The Congress termed the move as “height of betrayal and shamelessness” on part of the MLAs who had pledged to remain faithful to the people and the party after the Assembly elections.

In January, they had taken the loyalty pledge at a temple, church and dargah in Goa ahead of the elections.

Asked about the breach of pledge, Kamat said that before joining the BJP he had visited the temple again.

“I went to the temple again and asked God what to do. God told me do whatever is best for you,” he said.

In a similar move in July 2019, 10 Congress MLAs had switched over to the BJP in Goa.

Michael Lobo said the MLAs took the decision to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sawant.

The crossing over of eight of its Goa MLAs to the BJP is part of the ruling party’s ‘Operation Kichad’, the Congress said and claimed the “break” was fast-tracked because of the visible success of its Bharat Jodo Yatra.

“Operation Kichad of BJP in Goa has been fast tracked because of the visible success of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. BJP is nervous,” Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh tweeted.

“A daily dose of diversion & disinformation is handed out to undermine the Yatra. We remain undeterred. We will overcome these dirty tricks of the BJP,” he said.

His party colleague Pawan Khera echoed him and said the BJP, rattled by the Bharat Jodo Yatra, had organised ‘Operation Kichad (mud)’ in the coastal state.

The BJP retained power in the coastal state after the state Assembly elections in March this year. It has 20 MLAs in the Assembly, while the Congress’ strength will be depleted from 11 to three.

The eight Congress MLAs – Kamat, Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes – were seen interacting with Sawant in a viral photo hours ahead of formally joining the BJP.

Earlier on Wednesday, a resolution was passed in the Congress Legislature Party meeting here to merge with the BJP, Lobo said. The three other Congress MLAs – Yuri Alemao, Altone D’Costa and Carlos Alvares Ferreira – were not present when the resolution was passed, he added.

Sawant told reporters that no decision has been taken yet on a cabinet reshuffle in the backdrop of the BJP strength rising to 28 in the House.

The eight Congress MLAs have joined the BJP unconditionally, Sawant said.

Sawant said the BJP now has 28 MLAs and enjoys support of 33 MLAs altogether in the Assembly.

Sawant said the “Congress Chhodo Yatra” has begun from Goa, as seen from the influx of that party’s legislators into the BJP.

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