BJP outsmarting Oppn in Goa, Cong still on shaky ground

Despite the Congress emerging as the largest party in the 2017 Goa Assembly election with 17 MLAs, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with just 13 seats outplayed the former to form the government and also welcomed Congress defectors into the party fold. Now in 2022, the Congress with 11 seats is on the brink of collapse as its MLAs are keen to join the saffron party.

Recently, the Congress party in Goa suspected that two-thirds of its members would join the BJP, repeating the history of 2019 when 10 Congress MLAs had joined the BJP. It tried to upset the plan of the rebels by filing disqualification petitions against Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo and Margao MLA Digambar Kamat, alleging both were involved in anti-party activities.

On July 10, 2022, the Congress claimed that the BJP was trying for a two-thirds split in the Congress. With 11 MLAs, a minimum 8 MLAs had to leave the party.

“The BJP was trying for a two-third split in the Congress, so a minimum 8 MLAs had to leave the party,” Congress Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao had said attacking the BJP for allegedly offering money to the MLAs.

Goa Congress former chief Girish Chodankar also targeted the BJP saying its industrialist friends, mine owners and coal mafias were offering Rs 30 to Rs 40 crores to Congress MLAs to defect.

The Congress has removed Michael Lobo as Leader of Opposition alleging he is the one who hatched the conspiracy, along with former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, by hobnobbing with the BJP to split the Congress.

Sources said that this political drama has been temporarily defused but the MLAs who have made up their minds may shift to the BJP anytime in the future.

Every time an MLA defected to the party, they have been telling the voters that they took the step for the development of the constituency. However, the people who have started to protest against such moves of the politicians have rejected it, saying they defect only for personal benefit, be it to save themselves from cases filed against them or for power, said analysts.

“We are all together. I have told Dinesh Gundu Rao and GPCC President Amit Patkar that whatever is happening after I got elected as MLA and CLP leader… the number of cases filed against me, I said I won’t be able to do justice to the post (CLP). I had told them to give the CLP post to any other MLA among us,” Michael Lobo, against whom cases have been filed in recent times, said.

Lobo, a former BJP leader, had joined the Congress ahead of the 2022 state assembly polls, while Digambar Kamat is also a former leader of the BJP.

According to Dinesh Gundu Rao, the BJP’s mission is to finish the Opposition in the country. “They especially want to finish the Congress party. Because by finishing the Congress and by trying to weaken the Congress they feel that nobody will be able to stop them from doing whatever they want,” Rao said.

“They will definitely join the BJP, we know it very well. Presently they are falling short of three MLAs to take the number to eight (two third). However, we are trying our level best to restrain them from joining the BJP,” a senior Congress leader told IANS.

“The BJP wanted numbers for the presidential election and also the Lok Sabha elections in 2024, otherwise at present they have enough strength to run the government,” he added.

Reacting to allegations levelled by the Congress over the recent political developments, BJP state president Sadanand Tanavade said they have no role in a ‘split in the Congress’.

“We have no role in this development, only the Congress can tell you. I have no information if anyone is joining, if someone comes then we will see. The Congress levelled many allegations. Maybe they were trying to keep their MLAs united during the assembly session,” Tanavade said.

In the last term of the BJP government, in March 2017 then Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane resigned from the party as well as an MLA and joined the BJP. He then won the by-election and became a minister in the BJP government.

Later in October 2018, two more Congress legislators, Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, also resigned and joined the BJP, subsequently winning the by-elections.

It didn’t stop here. On July 10 and October 2019, 10 more Congress MLAs along with Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavalekar switched over to the BJP. However, Kavalekar along with 6 other defected MLAs lost in the assembly election held in February 2022.

Though the Congress rose from the 2017 defection shock and managed to have 11 MLAs elected in 2022, there is every possibility that the party will get jolted again.

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