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Goa ex-CM joins BJP; Congress down to 3 MLAs

State Congress chief Girish Chodankar said, “Ravi Naik was only technically in Congress. The day his sons joined BJP (in 2020), we had disowned him.... We have groomed new leaders in Ponda.”

L-R: BJP Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar, Goa BJP president Sadanand Tanavade, ex-MLA from Ponda Ravi Naik, CM Pramod Sawant, BJP Goa incharge Devendra Fadnavis, Dy CM Chandrakant Kavlekar. (Pic courtesy: BJP)

On a day senior Congress leader Ravi Naik resigned as MLA and joined BJP in Goa, the party’s state in-charge, former Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, indicated that former Goa CM and senior Congress leader Pratapsingh Rane may ‘bless’ the party soon, and that the opposition party will soon be left with only two MLAs in Goa.

“When (deputy CM) Babu Kavlekar-ji joined BJP, I had said Congress was reduced to a Nano (the small hatchback) party. They had enough MLAs to fit into a Nano car. Now, with Ravi Naik-ji joining (BJP), they have become an autorickshaw party — all their MLAs can fit into an auto rickshaw,” Fadnavis said on Tuesday, addressing party workers in Ponda at an event to induct Naik into the party.

“Soon, when we get (Congress MLA) Pratapsingh Rane-ji’s blessings, they will be reduced to a cycle party. Their MLAs will be able to go anywhere on a bicycle.”

Rane’s son, incumbent state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, quit Congress in 2017 to join BJP. Rane senior, an 11-time MLA, may not join BJP, party sources said. When Fadnavis had met him in September, he had requested Pratapsingh to give his “blessings” to his son and his Assembly seat of Poriem to BJP, sources said.

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Vishwajit has maintained since 2017 that he had joined BJP with his father’s blessings.

Naik’s exit has reduced Congress to three MLAs. Naik’s two sons had earlier joined BJP. A leader from the numerically strong Bhandari Samaj, Naik was Goa CM from 1991 to 1993 and is also a former MP. He has been an MLA six times from Ponda and once from Marcaim constituency.

State Congress chief Girish Chodankar said, “Ravi Naik was only technically in Congress. The day his sons joined BJP (in 2020), we had disowned him…. We have groomed new leaders in Ponda.”

Naik’s induction ceremony in Ponda was held with Fadnavis, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and state BJP president Sadanand Tanavade and senior state leaders in attendance.

A day after Trinamool Congress announced an alliance with Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), a traditional BJP ally, leaders of the ruling party lashed out at the regional party and mocked that the lion (MGP’s symbol) had fallen into the trap of hunters who had arrived in Goa ahead of elections.

“This is an unnatural alliance. It is the party of Bhausabheb Bandodkar that ruled Goa for 17 years. In 2022, people will show them their place,” Goa BJP chief Sadanand Tanavde said.

Fadnavis said, “There are 576 lions left in India. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi-ji has started a programme for their conservation. Hunters are on the prowl to catch lions. Lions of Goa have been trapped by hunters but it is not their fault. The Kolkata party has come with bags, they have set up shop but I want to tell the MGP, you may be attracted to their purse but you will only get people’s curse,” said Fadnavis.

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