Following news that eight Congress MLAs, including Michael Lobo and former chief minister Digambar Kamat, were planning to join the Bharatiya Janata Party today, activity in the Goa legislative assembly increased on Wednesday. Since the assembly is not in session, the MLAs’ meeting with the assembly is unique.
The ruling BJP has 20 seats in the 40-member assembly, falling one shy of a majority. Three independents and two members of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party support the party.
Sadanand Shet Tanavade, the state BJP chairman, also provided PTI with confirmation of the occurrence.
While none of the MLAs were accessible for comment, it is thought that the eight have started the paperwork necessary to inform the Speaker—who is currently in Delhi and won’t be arriving in Goa until later today—of their “voluntary” decision.
A previous attempt by Congress MLAs in July of this year had failed because the breakaway group had not amassed the necessary number of members to transfer to the BJP, with five members refusing to join and two others wavering.
Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo have nevertheless persisted in their attempts to persuade the other MLAs in the weeks thereafter. After recently visiting Delhi, Lobo falsely stated upon his return to Goa that he had been there to participate in the Congress demonstration against inflation and price increases. He was absent, nevertheless, at the Delhi Congress protest. Kamat again rejected the rumours that he had visited Delhi, although a passenger list provided by a local news outlet indicated that Kamat had actually purchased a ticket to Delhi. It was unknown if Kamat had actually travelled.
In an earlier motion, the Congress sought to disqualify both Kamat and Lobo, charging that they had conspired with the BJP to split the Congress and join with the latter. The Speaker is still considering the plea.
Goa has a history of defections and people switching parties; between 1989 and 2000, the state had thirteen chief ministers, setting a record.
27 MLAs defected from the party on whose ticket they were elected, while 10 MLAs united with the BJP during the previous Legislative Assembly term.