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BJP chews up Goa Congress, two-thirds of MLAs defect


MUMBAI/NEW DELHI : Amid the Karnataka drama, the Congress suffered a meltdown in Goa with 10 of its 15 MLAs merging with the ruling BJP, beating the anti-defection law as two-thirds of them had switched sides.Chief Minister Pramod Sawant later said the merger was unconditional.The group led by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar met Speaker Rajesh Patnekar in the evening and handed him a letter about the merger. Sawant and Deputy Speaker Michael were present when the group arrived to meet the Speaker. 

The national leadership of the Congress knew about the defection at least two days ago but could do little to prevent it. Dr A Chellakumar, AICC in charge of Goa, told TNIE he had called up Kavlekar two days ago about the buzz but was assured everything was okay. Kavlekar sought to mislead Chellakumar, Congress MP from Krishnagiri, as he was the leader of the rebels.

After the 2017 Assembly polls threw up a hung Assembly in Goa, the Congress was the single largest party with 17 seats  while the BJP got 13. But the BJP quickly cobbled together a coalition government, which came to be known as the Goa model. “The strength of the BJP has now risen to 27 MLAs,” Chief Minister Sawant said.