Months after their failed coup, eight Goa Congress MLAs on Wednesday claimed to have engineered a split in the party’s legislature wing and merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party, according to former Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo, who headed the group of Congress rebels.
Soon after the split and the subsequent merger, the rebel leaders also took pot-shots at the Congress’ ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra, a high-profile, pan-India campaign led by party leader Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2024 general elections.
With Wednesday’s split, the Congress’s legislature strength in Goa has dropped from 11 MLAs to just three.
The split followed a meeting of the eight Congress rebels on Wednesday morning, where they signed a resolution to split the legislature party and merge it with the ruling BJP.
“We spoke to the Speaker of the state assembly over phone and informed him about our decision. We have also sent him the resolution via fax and email,” Lobo told reporters at the state assembly complex, soon after the Congress breakaway unit joined the BJP.
“We have joined the BJP to strengthen hands of PM Narendra Modi and take his vision forward. The Congress has started ‘Bharat Jodo’ from Kanyakumari, but we have started another yatra from Goa. ‘Congress chhodo, BJP ko jodo’ (Quit Congress and join BJP),” Lobo told reporters.
Apart from Lobo, the seven other MLAs who are part of the split are former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, Aleixo Sequeira, Kedar Naik, Delilah Lobo,
Rudolf Fernandes, Rajesh Phaldessai and Sankalp Amonkar.
Speaking to reporters after the completion of merger formalities, Kamat also took pot-shots at the ‘Bharat Jodo’ campaign and also quoted now former veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had a bitter exit from the opposition party last month.
“A person takes decisions in politics based on circumstances. When I was not appointed as Leader of Opposition, I had said that what was going on in Congress was not right. And you can also draw conclusions from Ghulam Nabi Azad’s letter. He said that instead of ‘Bharat Jodo’ there is need for a
‘Congress Jodo’ programme,” Kamat said.
The Congress had survived another attempt to split its legislature wing in July this year, ahead of panchayat elections in the state. But the attempt had failed after the rebels failed to cobble together eight out of the 11 MLAs to make up for the two-thirds threshold, required to split the party and dodge the anti-defection law.
The latest development takes the strength of BJP MLAs in the state assembly to 28 in a house of 40 legislators.
Sources in the Bharatiya Janata Party said that with the latest merger, a cabinet reshuffle would be carried out soon to accommodate senior legislators in the rebel group.
“We are still finalising the adjustments,” a party leader said.