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In Goa, 4 ministers may be dropped to make way for newly inducted MLAs

Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant is likely to reshuffle his cabinet on Thursday to accommodate some of the newly inducted MLAs, who have been promised ministerships, after they switched side from the Congress to the BJP.

Ten Congress MLAs out of the 15 legislators in the assembly split from the opposition party and merged with the BJP on Wednesday evening, adding to the crisis in Karnataka where its coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular) is struggling after similar desertions.

The MLAs have said, “development of their constituencies” was the only driving force behind their decision to join the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP’s strength in the 40-member House is 27 now, including the newly-merged group of ten MLAs,

The Congress is now left with four former chief ministers — Digambar Kamat, Luizinho Faleiro, Ravi Naik, Pratapsingh Rane — and Reginaldo Lourenço.

Also read: ‘Only God can save this country’, says Goa Congress president says after 10 MLAs jump ship

Sources in the government said a swearing-in ceremony has been tentatively scheduled for 4pm on Thursday once the delegation of legislators returns from Delhi after meeting Union home minister Amit Shah and other BJP leaders.

Pramod Sawant, however, remained tight-lipped regarding the reshuffle.

“We will be meeting our party’s central leadership. Nothing has been finalised. The central leadership will take a decision,” Sawant said before leaving for Delhi on Wednesday night.

The chief minister is expected to drop three MLAs of ally Goa Forward Party from his cabinet as well as minister for information technology Rohan Khaunte, an Independent. Govind Gaude, the other independent MLA, is expected to survive the cull.

Chandrakant Kavlekar, who until Wednesday was the Leader of Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly, is expected to be inducted as a minister and given the titular post of deputy chief minister at the expense of leader of Goa Forward Party Vijai Sardesai.

Also read: As Karnataka simmers, Goa erupts; 10 Congress MLAs break off and join BJP

Others expected to be given portfolios include Panaji MLA Atanasio Monserrate, who had wrested the state capital from the BJP after he defeated the ruling party’s Siddharth Kuncaliencar in the by-poll. The by-election was necessitated after the death of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar earlier this year.

Velim MLA Filipe Neri Rodrigues as well as the BJP’s own MLA Michael Lobo, who represents the Calangute constituency, will also be accommodated.

Monserrate and Rodrigues had been ministers in the Manohar Parrikar cabinet between 2002 and 2005. Monserrate, then an MLA of the United Goans Democratic Party, had been the minister of town and country planning while Rodrigues, then an Independent MLA, was the minister for water resources under Parrikar.

Both of them had deserted the BJP in 2005 to join the Congress bringing a premature end to the Parrikar government in 2005 within three years. Monserrate’s victory in May had marked the first time the Congress held the Panaji seat in 26 years.

First Published:
Jul 11, 2019 10:22 IST

Source: HindustanTimes