In a big jolt to the Congress, 8 of its elected legislators in Goa, including former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo have switched to the BJP. The 8 legislators joined the BJP in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.
Here are the 8 MLAs who dumped the Congress to join the BJP in Goa:
With this, Congress is left with only 3 lawmakers in a 40-member Assembly.
Goa | 8 Congress MLAs including Digambar Kamat, Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Rajesh Phaldesai, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Aleixo Sequeira & Rudolf Fernandes join BJP in presence of CM Pramod Sawant pic.twitter.com/uxp7YaZAUN— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2022
What Michael Lobo said: Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo, speaking to news agency ANI earlier today, said that all top Congress leaders who strengthened the party will leave it in the coming days because of too much differences among themselves.
"We're representing the people, will have to hear their voices; [they] told us to leave and we are leaving," Lobo said.
Goa | All top Congress leaders who strengthened the party will leave it in the coming days because of too much of differences among themselves. We're representing the people, will have to hear their voices; told us to leave & we are leaving: Michael Lobo after joining BJP pic.twitter.com/uCj6wn0rVZ— ANI (@ANI) September 14, 2022
It was Lobo who convened a meeting of Congress Legislature Party early Wednesday and resolved to merge the Congress Legislature Party into the BJP. The MLAs later submitted the letter of merger to the Secretary.
What happened and how it happened: The latest political shift in Goa isn't surprising, given the growing tensions among the Goa legislators of the Congress party. The party high command knew of an uneasiness among the party members in Goa and the chief architect of it was considered to be former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Leader of Opposition Michael Lobo. It was said that Kamat, on not being given the Leader of Opposition role, was quite disgruntled and since then, he was trying to engineer the defect of 6 Congress MLAs to the BJP.
For this, the Congress party had even called for disqualification of Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo under the anti-defection law in July.
Congress's Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao had said that the two MLAs were working in total coordination with the BJP. Rao had accused Kamat of resorting to cheap and desperate politics.
In July, when Kamat was disqualified, he had called it shocking and surprising. Speaking to Indian Express, Kamat said that he contributed to the party for several years and worked very hard for it.
Who is Digambar Kamat? In 2005, Kamat switched from the BJP to the Congress. From 2007-2012 he was the Chief Minister of Goa. From 2019-2022, he was the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly. He is also a seven-time MLA from the Margao constituency in Goa. Since joining politics in 1994, he has oscillated several times between the Congress and the BJP.
In 2019, Kamat had said that joining BJP would be 'suicide'. And now, nearly three years later, he has joined the BJP.
Who is Michael Lobo? Michael Lobo is a three-time MLA from the Calangute constitutency. He was with the BJP from 2007 to 2022. Before the 2022 Goa Assembly elections, he switched to the Congress after finding himself sidelined under the new CM, BJP's Pramod Sawant.
Along with Kamat, he is a big reason behind the 8 Congress MLAs switching from the party at a time when the grand old party is facing flak from all over the country. The reason why Kamat and Lobo took 6 other MLAs along with them is because by doing so, they survived the anti-defection law.
This sudden chage in the political landscape in Goa also serves a big blow to Rahul Gandhi, who is on a foot march across the length and and breadth of the country under the Congress's Bharat Jodo Yatra.