3 Goa Congress Lawmakers Who Switched To BJP To Be Made Ministers Today

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The BJP has claimed the 10 legislators joined the party on their own. (File)

Panaji:

Three of the 10 Congress lawmakers in Goa who switched to the BJP earlier this week will find a place in the cabinet as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant readies to induct four new ministers today. Chandrakant Kavlekar, the former leader of opposition, will be sworn in as deputy chief minister, the deputy speaker of the Goa Assembly told NDTV.

"Jennifer Monserrate, the wife of Atanasio "Babush" Monserrate, will be sworn in as minister, as will Filipe Nery Rodrigues," Michael Lobo, the deputy Speaker of the Goa Assembly, told NDTV over the phone.

Mr Lobo added that he will be the fourth minister who will be inducted in the cabinet expansion that takes places at 3 pm today.

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On Friday, the chief minister had asked three legislators from the coalition partner, Goa Forward Party, and an independent legislator, Rohan Khaunte, to step down. Deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, Vinod Palienkar and Jayesh Salgaocar are the ministers from the Goa Forward Party, who were told to quit.

"I have asked three GFP ministers and Khaunte to resign from the cabinet. I have given them the instructions as per the orders from my high command," Mr Sawant was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

In a bid to clear the air after the GFP ministers were asked to resign, the BJP's coalition partner, on its Twitter handle, said the matter will be "sorted out amicably".

"@Goaforwardparty is part of the NDA and had joined the BJP-led state government after talks with the national leadership of the @BJP4India. The present state BJP leaders were not part of the discussions then. (1/2)," it wrote.

"As such we will take appropriate steps only after talking with the NDA leadership at the centre.We have not yet received any official communication from the @BJP4India central leaders.On the contrary,we have received indications that the matter will be sorted out amicably. (2/2)," another tweet read.

@Goaforwardparty is part of the NDA and had joined the BJP-led state government after talks with the national leadership of the @BJP4India. The present state BJP leaders were not part of the discussions then. (1/2)

— Goa Forward (@Goaforwardparty) July 12, 2019

As such we will take appropriate steps only after talking with the NDA leadership at the centre.We have not yet received any official communication from the @BJP4India central leaders.On the contrary,we have received indications that the matter will be sorted out amicably. (2/2)

— Goa Forward (@Goaforwardparty) July 12, 2019

Earlier on Friday, Michael Lobo had indicated that the alliance ministers who were "arm-twisting" the chief minister may be asked to leave. "You cannot put your ego before him (Pramod Sawant) or say if you do not do my work I will throw the government. This language will not do," Mr Lobo had told reporters.

On Thursday, 10 Congress legislators, led by the leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, joined the ruling BJP, increasing its strength to 27 in the 40-seat house. The Congress, which had emerged as the single-largest party after the 2017 state elections, is now reduced to just five legislators.

The BJP has claimed the 10 legislators joined the party on their own.

However, the discord within the BJP was clear soon after the party welcomed the Congress legislators.

A BJP worker, Pranav Sanvorderkar, resigned from the party on Friday expressing his discontent. "I am deeply hurt with the news of 10 Congress MLAs shifting allegiance to the BJP and joining the party ahead of some of them being inducted in the state cabinet," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

The cabinet reshuffle in Goa comes as the Congress-JDS coalition in Karnataka struggles to survive after the resignation of 18 lawmakers.

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