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Congress to file disqualification petition against 10 deserter MLAs in Goa

The party is confident that it can weather the storm despite being reduced to five MLAs in the House

india Updated: Jul 12, 2019 09:48 IST
Gerard de Souza
Gerard de Souza
Ten Congress MLAs resigned from the Congress party and formed a separate splinter group on Wednesday.(PTI Photo)

Alleging that the ‘defection’ of 10 of its MLAs in Goa to the BJP was ‘illegal’, the Congress has said it would file a petition before the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly and move courts seeking the disqualification of those who switched sides.

Ten Congress MLAs out of the 15 in the assembly split and merged with the BJP on Wednesday evening, adding to the crisis for the grand old party which is already struggling after 16 legislators resigned in Karnataka putting its coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular) in the red.

Congress secretary in-charge of Goa A Chellakumar on Thursday said his party will reorganise itself, appoint a new leader in the upcoming assembly session and seek legal relief from the disqualifications.

“First, we have to give the letter to the Speaker also and after that, we will go to court. Yes, we will move for disqualification because there is no split in the original party. The Congress party is a wide party. These 10 (MLAs) are individuals. How can they say it is a split and a merger?” Chellakumar asked while speaking to reporters in Margao, 35 km south of Goa, where he is camped.

“This is not the first time for the Congress party. It is a more than 120-year-old party. We have come across these type of crises on so many occasions. For certain people for their own personal gains… They are so greedy and they don’t have any political ethics and principles. If somebody is leaving they don’t damage the party in any way,” Chellakumar said.

“We stand for the principles and ideology. We are not bothered about individuals. Yes, many of them got elected. It is a clear case of murder of democracy,” Chellakumar said.

During the day, former chief minister Digambar Kamat met with the leader and apprised him of the situation in Goa. Kamat, who is now expected to be given a larger role in the party, said after his meeting with Chellakumar that he had no doubts about the future of the party.

“The Congress party as such has sizeable support across the state. Every constituency has fixed voters who will vote for Congress. It is the leaders who have ditched the voters. This is the way things are moving then I think the anti-defection law will have to be redefined,” Kamat told reporters.

Kamat, the only chief minister in the history of the state of Goa to have completed a five-year term, had himself faced a coup on his government in 2007 led by the then leader of opposition Manohar Parrikar. A coup he successfully negotiated.

Kamat said he too was shocked by the developments.

“I really do not know. I was also shocked. When the leader of the opposition is himself going away, what can I say,” Kamat said.

The Congress was elected with 17 MLAs in the 2017 assembly elections but failed to form the government. It first lost one MLA to the BJP—Vishwajit Rane who was made minister for health—and subsequently, two other MLAs resigned and recontested the elections which they won. The party’s strength in the house is now five.

The BJP despite winning only 13 seats moved quickly to secure the support of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), who agreed to support it on the condition that then defence minister Manohar Parrikar returns to Goa as the chief minister.

Both the parties have now been sidelined by the BJP with the MGP reduced to one legislator and the Goa Forward Party’s support is now redundant for the survival of the government.

The Goa Forward Party and the MGP emerged largely at the expense of the BJP in the hustings with two of GFP’s three MLAs defeating sitting BJP ministers while one of the MGP’s MLAs defeated a sitting BJP minister and the other defeated an MLA.

“This is also a lesson to its alliance partners who went against the mandate of people in 2017 and installed the BJP in power. This was the day in waiting as they disrespected the common people,” Congress’ Goa unit president Girish Chodankar said.

First Published: Jul 12, 2019 09:48 IST

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