Blow to Goa Congress as two MLAs join BJP

Goa: In a shot in the arm for the Manohar Parrikar-led government in Goa, two Congress legislators have quit the grand old party to join the BJP. This will strengthen the BJP government in the state, which has been facing constant pressure from the Congress over the formation of the government.

The resignations will bring down the bench strength of the Congress, which was the single-largest in the Goa assembly, from 16 to 14. BJP leaders have claimed that three more Congress legislators are likely to join the party in 10 days.

On Tuesday, Congress legislators Subhash Shirdokar and Dayanand Sopte tendered their resignations to the governor. The duo, who represent north Goa, joined the BJP. Their resignation means that they will have to fight in by polls later.

While Shirodkar, a former Goa Congress president is a six-term MLA and represents Shiroda, Sopte earned a reputation of a giant killer by defeating then chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar from Mandrem in last year’s polls, in the first instance of an incumbent chief minister being trounced.

Speaking to DNA from New Delhi, where they will formally join the BJP in presence of party president Amit Shah, Shirodkar and Sopte attributed their decision to the cause for “development” in their constituencies.

“My main issue is the development of the state and constituency,” said Shirodkar, adding that he had resigned as a MLA and would seek re-election as a BJP nominee.

“I had to take the decision because of pressure from my constituents. They elected me as their MLA with a lot of expectations, but there are limitations on work that can be done as an opposition legislator,” said Sopte, who was earlier with the BJP.

In 2007, Sopte defeated former minister Jitendra Deshprabhu (Congress) from the Pernem constituency. He later joined the Congress and successfully contested from Mandrem against Parsekar.

Parrikar, who is said to be suffering from a pancreatic ailment, had been admitted to AIIMS, Delhi and was airlifted back to Goa this week. Parrikar (62) has been undergoing treatment at medical facilities in Mumbai, the United States, Delhi and Goa.

“We are not engineering defections. If someone wants to join the BJP on their own, we will welcome them,” said BJP Goa president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Tendulkar, claiming three more Congress MLAs were likely to join the party in 10 days.

Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Girish Chodankar and leader of the opposition Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar could not be reached for comments.

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