Goa Cong Moves Its 5 MLAs to Undisclosed Location Ahead of Assembly Session; to Announce New CLP Leader

Ahead of the Goa Assembly session beginning on Monday, the opposition Congress has moved five of its MLAs to an undisclosed location, after five other party legislators went incommunicado, a senior Congress leader said. The party will also announce the name of its new leader of opposition before the commencement of the Assembly session, according to Goa Congress chief Amit Patkar.

As on Monday morning, five of the total 11 Congress MLAs, in the 40-member Goa Assembly, were with the party, while five others remained out of reach. Another MLA Aleixo Sequeira was at home and pledged his support to the party.

A senior Congress leader confirmed that they have moved the five MLAs, who are with the party, to an undisclosed location to avoid further ‘split’ in the outfit. “These MLAs will arrive at the Assembly complex to participate in the session, he said. The state Congress faced an embarrassing situation on Sunday when five of its MLAs – Michael Lobo, Digambar Kamat, Kedar Naik, Rajesh Faldesai and Delialah Lobo – went incommunicado.

The Congress subsequently removed Lobo from the post of Leader of Opposition in the Goa Assembly, the party’s state desk in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao announced late Sunday evening. “Lobo and Kamat were hatching a conspiracy by hobnobbing with the BJP to engineer a split in the Congress,” Rao alleged. Therefore, the party has decided to remove Lobo from the post of the Leader of Opposition. Action will be taken against both Lobo and Kamat, he said.

Rao had also said that if the five MLAs cross sides, they will have to face elections again as the group does not enjoy the two-third majority of the party’s legislative wing (to escape action under the anti-defection law). While none of the five ‘rebel’ MLAs were available for comments, sources in the BJP claimed the legislators were in touch with them.

Talking to reporters on Sunday, Goa Chief Minister and senior BJP leader Pramod Sawant said he would not like to comment on developments in the other party (Congress). Asked if any of the Congress legislators had come to meet him, Sawant said, Many MLAs come to meet me, specially because the Assembly is being convened from Monday.

On Sunday night, the Congress held a meeting of its legislature party, resolving to remove Lobo from the post of Leader of Opposition. Patkar had said the name of the new LoP would be announced before the session begins on Monday. Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Sunday asked senior party leader Mukul Wasnik to rush to Goa to “oversee latest political developments” in the state.

The ruling BJP in Goa has 20 MLAs, and the Pramod Sawant government also enjoys the support of five other legislators – two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) and three Independents. The Congress had won 11 seats in the Assembly polls held in February this year. The Goa Foward Party (GFP) and Revolutionary Goans Party (RGP) had won one seat each, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) bagged two seats.

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