Panaji, Sep 10 (IANS): With two failed attempts to catch the 'double engine' train, Congress MLAs in Goa who are interested in switching sides have still not abandoned hope. Both the times, they reportedly decided to join the ruling BJP but could not manage a two-third majority.
On July 10, 2019, during the last term of BJP government, 10 MLAs of Congress along with Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavalekar had switched to BJP. However, Kavalekar and other six politicians lost the assembly election held in February 2022. The incident of Leader of Opposition joining the ruling fold had invited ire and criticism.
As the example of switching the party was set by seniors, the old faces along with new faces of Congress elected in 2022, attempted to take the legacy of defection ahead on the same day, July 10, of 2022. However, early intervention of central leadership of Congress foiled their plans. Since then, Congress office bearers are keeping a close vigil on political happenings.
The second move by these MLAs in defection mood also got foiled during Ganesh Chaturthi as they couldn't manage an eighth MLA. Congress has 11 MLAs in 40 members of the legislative assembly and require a flock of 8 MLAs (two-third) to switch sides.
Speaking to IANS, central leader of Congress said that due to unmanageable number, their second attempt also failed. "Now if they wish to join BJP, then they will have to resign and go, a risk which they will not take," said a Congress leader on condition of anonymity.
Interestingly, it is not only that Congress leadership wants these MLAs to stay in Congress, but even some BJP Ministers are in fear that they may be dropped from the Cabinet to accommodate new comers with top seats.
Recently, there were reports that Congress MLA Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo, against whom party has moved a disqualification alleging they tried to split the party, were in Delhi to meet BJP leaders. However, both have rejected it. Both have said that they are still very much with Congress.
On July 9, 2022, amid speculation that some Congress MLAs were camping in the national capital and were in talks with BJP leaders to join their fold, Congress Goa desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao had said that those were just the rumours. But soon Rao had arrived in Goa to persuade the MLAs who had made up their minds to join BJP.
The very next day on July 10, Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed that BJP was trying for two-third split in Congress.
Rao had attacked BJP for allegedly offering money to MLAs to split. "In spite of offering huge money, six of our MLAs have stood firm. I am proud of them. BJP was trying for two-third split in Congress, so minimum 8 MLAs leave the party," he had said.
Congress on the same day had removed Michael Lobo as Leader of Opposition, alleging that he was the one who hatched conspiracy, along with former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, by hobnobbing BJP to split Congress MLAs.
On July 11, BJP unit in Goa had rejected allegations that they were trying to split the Congress MLAs and had said that their leaders were at their respective homes, when the political development was going on.
"We have no role in this development, only Congress can tell you. I have no information if anyone is joining, if someone comes then we will see. Congress levelled many allegations. Maybe they were trying to keep their MLAs united as the assembly session started from today," BJP State President Sadanand Tanavade told reporters.
However, BJP's Goa desk in-charge C.T Ravi had stated on May 28 that five MLAs from the opposition were interested in joining the ruling side.
Congress on July 11, also filed disqualification petition with the Assembly Speaker against former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo for anti-party activities. This indicates that all is not well in Congress camp and they have no trust in MLAs and see them as defectors.
Political analyst says that those who had made up their minds to join BJP, will in future make a move again as it is a question of power and BJP needs more strength to win seats of Lok Sabha in 2024.
Congress Senior leader Mukul Wasnik along with Dinesh Gundu Rao are likely to come to Goa on September 11 or 12 to choose the leader of opposition, take stock of the political situation and deter their MLA's from boarding on the 'double engine' train in future.