Flip-flop Goa legislators desert BJP-led front

By Faraz Ahmad, IANS

New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party has been left in the lurch as three legislators in Goa who had deserted the Congress-led ruling coalition in support of the BJP-led alliance have changed their minds.

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The party has been forced to quietly and meekly withdraw its demand to pull down the nine-week-old Congress-led coalition government of Chief Minister Digambar Kamat.

Three legislators who had deserted the ruling coalition July 27 and joined the BJP-led Goa Democratic Alliance (GDA) returned to their fold Monday.

“Three GDA MLAs called up at the last moment to inform about their change of mind,” Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the BJP leader in charge of Goa affairs, said Tuesday morning.

Churchill Alemao and Alex of the Save Goa Front and Babush Mansarat of United Goa Democratic Party (UGDP) changed their minds minutes before the GDA’s appointment with President Pratibha Patil Monday afternoon.

Rudy told IANS, “We have neither broken any party nor bought any MLAs. We told them we will not hold you back.”

He blamed the Congress for the changing equations and said, “The Congress has got back to its old ways of horse-trading”.

Kamat, sworn in as Goa chief minister June 8, received a jolt July 27 when some of the legislators supporting him crossed over and announced their support to the BJP.

With the new supporters, the BJP formed the GDA under the chairmanship of well-known industrialist Anil Salgaocar and a day later the alliance members came to Delhi to present their case before the president.

After returning to Goa, they met Governor S.C. Jamir and urged that Kamat should be asked to seek a vote of confidence. Their wish was granted, but Kamat won the trust vote after Speaker Pratap Singh Rane disqualified two members.

The BJP rejected the speaker’s decision and went to court insisting they had a majority in the house. Now that the party has lost this majority, it remains to be seen whether it will pursue the case in court.