Shoring up the ruling BJP in Goa where uncertainty had gripped the government over the failing health of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, two MLAs of the Congress resigned and joined the BJP Tuesday. In the process, the Congress, which had 16 MLAs in the 40-member House, lost the status of being the single largest party.
MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte flew to New Delhi and met BJP president Amit Shah. Union Minister Piyush Goyal welcomed them to the BJP and handed them membership receipts. He said the two MLAs will strengthen the hands of Chief Minister Parrikar and the NDA government in the state.
The BJP has 14 MLAs and the backing of three legislators of the Goa Forward Party, three of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, three Independents and external support from Churchill Alemao of the NCP — that adds up to 23 plus 1 NCP.
The Congress MLA count was reduced to 14 after Sopte and Shirodkar sent their resignation papers to Speaker Pramod Sawant. Later in the day, Sawant said it is now up to the Election Commission to announce dates for the bypolls for the two seats — the House strength is now 38.
Sopte represented Mandrem in north Goa while Shirodkar was MLA from Shiroda in south Goa.
Until Tuesday morning, the Congress had been to the Governor five times, claiming majority in the House and seeking a floor test.
Congress Goa in-charge Dr A Chellakumar told reporters: “I got a message that (Goa Health Minister) Vishwajit Rane was the man who had convinced and taken them to Delhi and bargained with the BJP high command that if he were to get the two Congress MLAs, he should be made Chief Minister.”
Late Tuesday, after the BJP announced that the two MLAs had joined the party, he said: “The BJP has shown that they do not want to run a government democratically. They are desperate for power. People from Goa have seen it. When they formed a government in 2017, they did not have a mandate. They did it via the back door… Despite having a government, there is no governance.”