Former Leader of Opposition in Goa and Congress MLA Michael Lobo was among the eight MLAs who joined the BJP on Wednesday.
Eight Congress MLAs in Goa joined the BJP on Wednesday morning. This comes after there had been rumours surrounding their plans of defection for in July.
The Congress MLAs met Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant in the morning as they defected from their party.
Congress has pushed to revive the party with its Bharat Jodo Yatra, where Rahul Gandhi is walking on foot for 3,750 km from Kanyakumari to Jammu and Kashmir.
Who are the MLAs?
One of the most significant faces of the Goa Congress, Micheal Lobo, joined the BJP. His wife Delilah Lobo too followed suit. Digambar Kamat, a former Goa chief minister, was also among eleven MLAs who joined the Congress.
According to The Indian Express, the other five MLAs are Aleixo Sequeira, Sankalp Amonkar, Rajesh Phal Dessai, Kedar Naik, and Rudolfo Fernandes.
They were welcomed into the party during an event, in the presence of chief minister Sawant.
Why have they left Congress?
Lobo, who had in July denied speculation about him joining the BJP, told the media on Wednesday morning that he wanted to strengthen the hand of the prime minister. He was quoted by ANI as saying, "We have joined the BJP to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant… Congress chhodo, BJP jodo (leave the Congress and join the BJP)"
How has Congress reacted?
Congress leaders have hit out at the BJP calling it "Operation Kichad (mud)" and saying the BJP only knows how to break things. Congress leader Jairam Ramesh took to Twitter to say, "Operation Kichad of BJP in Goa has been fast tracked because of the visible success of the #BharatJodoYatra. BJP is nervous. A daily dose of diversion & disinformation is handed out to undermine the Yatra. We remain undeterred. We will overcome these dirty tricks of the BJP."
Meanwhile, Khera said, "Phir see sabit ho gaya ki BJP sirf tod hi sakti hai (it has been proven yet against that the BJP can only break)." Khera wrote, "I heard that BJP has organised 'Operation Kichad' as they're baffled by the Bharat Jodo Yatra. "
What does this mean for the Goa legislative assembly?
The Goa legislative assembly has 40 seats and a any party needs to win 21 seats for a majority. The Congress has 11 MLAs of whom eight have now defected, leaving three.
The BJP meanwhile now has 33 MLAs in its coalition — 28 MLAs from BJP (including those who defected), three independent MLAs and two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party.
The opposition now essentially has seven MLAs — three from Congress, two from Aam Aadmi Party, one from Goa Forward Party and one from the Revolutionary Goans Party.
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