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HomeINDIAWill Goa Congress Defectors Be Ministers In BJP Government? What Chief Minister...

Will Goa Congress Defectors Be Ministers In BJP Government? What Chief Minister Pramod Sawant Said

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant finds himself stronger after mass defection from Congress.

Panaji:

Further strengthened after eight of 11 Congress MLAs in Goa walked over to the BJP, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant today said there will be no immediate changes to his cabinet. He claimed the BJP never approached the MLAs. “They were unhappy in the Congress anyway. And Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s terrific work inspired them to join us,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.

His assertions puncture the speculation that some of the defectors would get cabinet spots, particularly Digambar Kamat, who is a former chief minister, and Michael Lobo, for whom the defection is simply a switchback to the BJP.

The Chief Minister underlined what Mr Kamat said yesterday about joining the BJP, that it’s “without any conditions of any kind”. Mr Kamat had told NDTV, “If the party chooses not to give me any post, I will simply work to strengthen the organisation.” Mr Lobo, too, said, “I just want to work towards a more developed Goa.”

On Michael Lobo’s earlier allegations that the BJP, particularly the Chief Minister, is corrupt, Pramod Sawant responded, “He has realised that he was wrong, and the Congress wasn’t a good choice for him.” Mr Lobo had gone to the Congress from the BJP just before this year’s elections. 

“All these MLAs clearly see that no one other than Modi ji can run this country,” he added.

The group of eight skirted the anti-defection law as it forms two-thirds of the Congress strength.

Mr Sawant repeated a dig he took yesterday at the Congress’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ (Unite India March) led by Rahul Gandhi: “From Goa, a ‘Congress Chhoro Yatra’ (a march to leave Congress) has started instead.”

For the Congress, such a splinter in Goa wasn’t completely unexpected, even though it had got its candidates to take a loyalty vow. It was a redux of 2019, when the party’s two-third strength — 10 of 15 MLAs — defected to the BJP. This time, in July, the Congress managed to keep itself together, but, as it turned out, that was just a two-month halt before the march.

The Congress now has just three MLAs in the House of 40, while the BJP goes up to 28, plus two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, and three independents, thus a brute majority of 33. Goa Forward Party has one MLA supporting the Congress. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has two MLAs here, the only place where it has Vidhan Sabha presence outside of Punjab and Delhi. The Revolutionary Goans Party has one MLA.

Mr Sawant, when asked if the BJP intended to engineer more defections, said, “We never tried it, I told you. Those coming in are inspired by the ‘double engine government’ (same ruling party for state and Centre).”

“I believe a robust Opposition is necessary for a healthy democracy,” he further said.

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