Three defecting Congress MLAs likely to be inducted in Goa Cabinet

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is likely to drop all three MLAs of the BJP ally Goa Forward Party to make space for Congress MLAs.

Published: 12th July 2019 08:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 12th July 2019 08:38 PM   |  A+A-

Goa CM Pramod Sawant

Goa CM Pramod Sawant (File Photo | PTI)

By PTI

PANAJI: Three MLAs, who recently deserted the Congress, along with BJP legislator and Deputy Speaker of Assembly Michael Lobo are likely to be inducted in the Goa cabinet Saturday, sources said.

A top BJP source said that three of the 10 MLAs, who left the Congress to join the BJP, and Lobo would be sworn in as ministers.

He also said that Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte could be dropped.

Lobo himself indicated that while accommodating new entrants, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant is likely to drop all three MLAs of the BJP ally Goa Forward Party (GFP) and one independent.

The GFP lent support to the BJP to form government in 2017 under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, and again in March 2019 when Sawant took over following Parrikar's death.

GFP chief Vijay Sardesai is currently Deputy Chief Minister.

"I feel one Independent MLA will remain in the cabinet and rest of the berths will be given to BJP MLAs," Lobo told reporters after arriving from New Delhi where he, along with the ten newly inducted MLAs and Sawant, met BJP president Amit Shah.

Justifying dropping of ministers, Lobo, without naming anybody, alleged that some of them tried to arm-twist Sawant.

"The chief minister is ready to help, but you cannot just be arm-twisting him. You cannot put your ego before him or say, if you do not do my work I will topple the government. This language will not do," the BJP leader said.

The swearing-in of new ministers will take place at 4 pm Saturday, Lobo added.

Ten of the 15 Congress MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, switched sides and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Wednesday.

While the ten MLAs and Lobo returned here from Delhi, Sawant stayed back to attend a high-level meeting on the issue of mining in Goa Friday evening, which has come to a standstill following a February 2018 Supreme Court order.

Lobo was instrumental in convincing the Congress lawmakers to switch sides, giving the BJP an overwhelming majority with 27 members in the 40-member Assembly, he said.

The source indicated that all three ministers of the GFP -- Sardesai, Vinod Palyekar and Jayesh Salgaonkar -- were expected to be dropped, along with Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte, while Govind Gawde, another independent, will retain his berth.

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