CM Sawant takes ‘Congress Chhodo Yatra’ jibe as 8 party MLAs join BJP in Goa

NEW DELHI: It’s a deja vu of sorts in Goa’s political landscape, with 8 of 11 Congress MLAs switching over to the BJP on Wednesday.
This includes former Goa chief minister Digambar Kamat, who led the party campaign in the state elections earlier this year, and the current LoP Michael Lobo.
The others are Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes.
Lobo held a crucial meeting of Congress Legislature Party on Wednesday morning and resolved to merge Congress Legislature Party into BJP. The MLAs then submitted the letter of merger to Secretary (Legislature). They later joined BJP in presence of chief minister Pramod Sawant.
The switch leaves Congress with just 3 MLAs, and the opposition benches depleted to only 7 members.
The BJP on the other hand has its ranks swelling to 28 from the current 20.
Taking a dig at Rahul Gandhi’s “Bharat Jodo Yatra,” Goa CM Pramod Sawant said “Congress Chhodo (leave Congress) yatra will commence now.”
“With today’s development, the BJP now enjoys the support of 33 MLAs (including two of the Maharashtravadi Gomantak Party and three Independents). These Congress MLAs have joined the BJP unconditionally,” Sawant said.
However the development drew a sharp response from the opposition Goa Forward Party.
“The eight legislators who have decided, against all political propriety, basic decency and honesty, to pursue their greed for wealth and hunger for power, stand today as the symbols of pure evil, displaying their shameless selfishness, avarice and chicanery, in defiance of almighty God,” said party president Vijai Sardesai.
The previous Goa assembly too saw large scale defections, with 67% MLAs switching sides, many in the weeks leading to the 2022 state polls.
27 MLAs in the 40-member house switched sides in the last assembly, with Congress taking the biggest hit- 16 of its 17 legislators ditching the party.
Ten Congress MLAs joined BJP in 2019 itself, including the then leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar. Another three joined the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.
Two MLAs from MGP and one from GFP also joined the saffron party.
The BJP too saw defection from its ranks, with 4 legislators joining various parties before the polls in February 2022.

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