Three Cong defectors named ministers in Goa cabinet rejig
Three days after 10 Congress MLAs in Goa defected and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), chief minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday reshuffled his cabinet by dropping three members of ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) and an Independent legislator as ministers. He inducted four new faces, including three Congress defectors, into the cabinet.
The four ministers were sworn in by governor Mridula Sinha at a ceremony in Raj Bhavan at Dona Paula in Panaji.
Chandrakant Kavlekar, who until Wednesday was leader of the Opposition in the Goa assembly; Michael Lobo, a BJP legislator who until Saturday morning was the deputy speaker; Jennifer Monserrate and Filipe Neri Rodrigues were sworn in as ministers. Kavlekar will be given the title of deputy chief minister,Sawant said.
Sawant claimed the move was in line with instructions he received from the party’s high command. A livid GFP accused Sawant of betraying the party which had helped the BJP come to power despite it not having the numbers required to form government after the February 2017 assembly elections, and of trampling on the legacy of late chief minister Manohar Parrikar.
“Ten MLAs from the Congress approached us unconditionally so we welcomed them into our party. When our party’s numbers reached 27 MLAs, we approached party’s leaders to seek advice. After the party’s central leadership’s instructions, we dropped four ministers,” Sawant said.
Sawant said the portfolios of the newly sworn-in ministers would be allocated latest by Monday, before the start of the monsoon session of the assembly the same day.
Outgoing deputy chief minister Vijai Sardesai and two of his party colleagues were dropped from the cabinet prior to the swearing-in after having been asked on Friday evening to put in their papers.
“This is a betrayal of an NDA ally. We are a party which is part of the NDA, we have been ditched after they brought in people of questionable character,” Sardesai said.
“Today Parrikar’s close team, who came together to build a new Goa, this whole team is being dismantled,” Sardesai said. “Maybe we were hurdles to this clean sweep involving the dismantling of Parrikar’s legacy which is the only plausible reason I feel they have taken this suicidal step.”
“Parrikar died twice. He died physically on March 17 and today he died politically,” Sardesai said. He said that his party would cease supporting the government and would now sit in the opposition.
“We will give them a letter before the swearing-in ceremony to the governor and we will sit in opposition. We will sit as watchdogs for Goans,” Sardesai said.
When asked to comment on Sardesai’s allegation that he was out to finish Parrikar’s legacy, Sawant said: “I do not wish to comment.”