Panaji, Sep 10 (IANS): With two failed attempts to catch the ‘twin engine’ train, Congress MPs in Goa who wish to switch sides still haven’t given up hope. Both times they reportedly decided to join the ruling BJP but could not secure a two-thirds majority.
On July 10, 2019, during the last term of the BJP government, 10 Congress MPs along with opposition leader Chandrakant Kavalekar switched to the BJP. However, Kavalekar and six other politicians lost the assembly elections held in February 2022. The incident of the opposition leader joining the ruling fold had drawn anger and criticism.
As the example of party change was set by senior citizens, the old faces as well as the new faces of Congress elected in 2022 attempted to carry forward the legacy of defection on the same day, July 10, 2022. However, the early intervention of the central congressional leadership foiled their plans. Since then, members of the Congressional office have been closely monitoring political events.
The second move of these defecting MPs was also foiled during Ganesh Chaturthi as they could not handle an eighth MP. Congress has 11 deputies out of 40 members of the Legislative Assembly and requires a group of 8 deputies (two-thirds) to switch sides.
Speaking to IANS, the central Congress chief said that due to unmanageable numbers their second attempt had also failed. “Now if they want to join the BJP, they will have to resign and leave, a risk they will not take,” a Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
Interestingly, it is not only that the Congress leadership wants these MPs to stay in Congress, but even some BJP ministers fear that they will be removed from the Cabinet to accommodate newcomers with senior seats.
Recently, it was reported that Congress MP Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo, against whom the party sought disqualification alleging they tried to split the party, were in Delhi to meet with BJP leaders. However, both rejected him. Both said they were always very close to Congress.
On July 9, 2022, amid speculation that some Congress MPs were camped out in the nation’s capital and were in talks with BJP leaders to join their group, Congress Goa office official Dinesh Gundu Rao said that it was just rumours. But soon Rao had arrived in Goa to persuade MPs who had decided to join the BJP.
The very next day, July 10, Dinesh Gundu Rao claimed that the BJP was trying to split two-thirds in Congress.
Rao had attacked the BJP for allegedly offering MPs money to split. “Despite huge money offer, six of our MPs stood firm. I am proud of them. BJP was trying to split two-thirds in Congress, so at least 8 MPs are leaving the party,” he said. .
On the same day, Congress dismissed Michael Lobo as opposition leader, alleging he was the one who plotted with former chief minister Digambar Kamat to incite the BJP to divide MPs of Congress.
On July 11, the BJP unit in Goa dismissed allegations that they were trying to divide Congress MPs and said their leaders were at home as political development continued.
“We have no role in this development, only Congress can tell you that. I have no information if anyone joins, if anyone comes, we will see. Congress has made many allegations. Can “Maybe they were trying to keep their MPs united in the assembly session started from today,” BJP state chairman Sadanand Tanavade told reporters.
However, the head of the BJP’s Goa office, CT Ravi, had said on May 28 that five opposition MPs wanted to join the ruling party.
On July 11, Congress also filed a motion for disqualification with the Speaker of the Assembly against former Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo for anti-party activities. This indicates that all is not well in the Congress camp and that they have no confidence in the MPs and see them as defectors.
The political analyst says those who had decided to join the BJP will do so again in the future as this is about power and the BJP needs more strength to win seats in Lok Sabha in 2024.
Top Congress leader Mukul Wasnik and Dinesh Gundu Rao are likely to travel to Goa on September 11 or 12 to choose the opposition leader, take stock of the political situation and talk their MPs out of boarding the train” dual engine” in the future.