Eight Goa Congress legislators met with chief minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday as they prepared to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This is the most recent in a string of defections from the opposition party days after Rahul Gandhi began a 3,700 km-long foot march to resurrect its waning electoral fortunes amid internal strife.
Following a meeting in the state assembly chamber of the leader of the opposition, Michael Lobo, eight of the 17 members of the Congress met Sawant. To “merge” their group with the BJP, they adopted a resolution.
While none of the MLAs were accessible for comment, 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.
After rebels failed to secure the necessary number of votes to defect to the BJP without triggering anti-defection statute disqualification proceedings, a split in the Congress was avoided in July. While two other MPs hesitated, five of them declined to participate.
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.
Earlier, the Congress filed a disqualification plea against both Kamat and Lobo, alleging that the two conspired with the BJP to split the Congress and unite with the latter. The Speaker has not yet ruled on the plea.