These are the musical chairs in Goa as nearly a fifth of MPs change political ties in three months
Bombay: In less than three months, the political alignments of nearly a fifth of Goa’s 40 members of the Legislative Assembly have changed, with at least five MPs resigning and joining other parties and two pledging their support to parties without. leave their post as legislators.
Of the seven MPs who changed political affiliation, three joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) led by Mamata Banerjee, one joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and one independent MLA has extended its support to Congress.
The latest to resign and defect is independent MP Rohan Khaunte, who joined the BJP on Friday in the presence of Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Goa assembly elections are only two months away, and although pre-election defections are common everywhere, they are almost a local tradition in Goa, where most MPs have been members of more than one party. during their political career.
Assembly constituencies in Goa are small, with each seat having about 25,000 to 30,000 voters, which helps representatives of the public to build an individual audience. For this reason, they are confident of being re-elected regardless of which party they run for.
Read also : Goa BJP Minister Milind Naik, who resigned over “exploitation” scandal, also charged with corruption
MPs from Goa who joined the BJP
According to election records from deputies who left the ship, the ruling BJP is likely to be the biggest beneficiary of the bandwagon of defections. Of the three who have joined the BJP – Khaunte, Ravi Naik and Jayesh Salgaonkar – the first two have achieved a streak of victories in their constituencies.
Khaunte, who was a minister in the BJP-led government until the death of former chief minister Manohar Parrikar, triumphed over the BJP as an independent candidate for two successive elections – 2012 and 2017 – in the Porvorim constituency . He chose to sit on the opposition benches after being dismissed from his post as minister in July 2019.
While welcoming Khaunte to the BJP on Friday, Fadnavis said: “In 2007, when I first worked on the elections in Goa, I was staying in Porvorim and working in the constituency. We couldn’t win the seat in 2012 or 2017. Then I got a call from central management saying, why don’t we get Rohan Khaunte to join the BJP? “
Khaunte was among the sharpest critics of the BJP government led by Pramod Sawant. However, as he stood next to Sawant and officially entered the BJP, Khaunte rationalized his decision by saying, “Political and ideological differences make legislation dynamic.”
“Many ask, why do you meet with the people you were fighting against? The question is not wrong. But I only made this decision after discussions with my kernel karyakartas. The leaders of the BJP are my colleagues. Sometimes there is cooperation, sometimes there are debates on certain issues, but there is never personal enmity, ”he added.
Naik, a former Goa CM, had a nearly five-decade long journey in Goa politics, and join the BJP from Congress earlier this month was kind of back to basics.
He has won the Ponda constituency five times (1984, 1999, 2002, 2007 and 2017) and the Marcaim constituency once in 1989.
Naik was first a member of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) until 1991, then joined Congress. In 2001, he organized a split in the Legislative Party of Congress and supported Parrikar in concocting a BJP government in which Naik was a CM deputy. He left the BJP before the 2002 legislative elections and returned to Congress.
His son, Roy Naik, joined the BJP in 2020. Ten years earlier, in 2010, the BJP, then in the Opposition, had severely criticized the Naik clan for Roy’s alleged involvement in a drug cartel.
A senior Congressional official from Goa who did not wish to be nominated told ThePrint: “We had stopped counting Ravi Naik as MPP long before he resigned and joined the BJP. Defeat will not hurt us.
Salgaonkar, the third MP to resign and join the BJP, was the MP for Saligão of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) led by Vijai Sardesai. His entry into the BJP earlier this month is expected to spark some disappointment among local party workers looking for a seat ticket.
The BJP has also attempted to recruit former Congressman CM Pratapsingh Rane, whose son Vishwajit Rane is a minister in the cabinet headed by Sawant. Earlier this month, Fadnavis publicly indicated that Elder Rane, one of three congressional lawmakers remaining in the Goa assembly, may soon join the BJP. Rane, however, refuted the suggestion as a “Product of the imagination”.
Read also : Why congressional and TMC alliances with regional parties in Goa might not be enough to fight the BJP
TMC’s gain could be Congress’s loss and BJP’s gain
The first MP to resign and defect was former Congress CM Luizinho Faleiro, who moved to TMC in September and received a Rajya Sabha sits by the party in November.
Faleiro is a seven-time Member of Parliament for Navelim and his defection from the TMC, along with that of Churchill Alemao, will create a solid base for the Banerjee-led party to make forays into the Catholic-dominated subdistrict of Salcete.
Alemao, another former CM from Goa, is a sitting MP from Benaulim, adjacent to Navelim. He defected from the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to the TMC earlier this month without resigning as a lawmaker, claiming that he (as the only NCP MP) had merged his party’s legislative unit with the TMC. Alemao represented Benaulim for four terms and Navelim for one term in 2007.
The Salcete taluka has traditionally been a stronghold of Congress, and a chance the TMC breaching here could indirectly help the BJP by weakening Congress.
Political analyst Cleofato Coutinho told ThePrint: “The BJP faced strong anti-incumbent sentiment, but TMC’s entry disrupted that scenario. The entry of the TMC created a small dent in the congressional vote, and the AAP chart is edging up. The opposition is divided and the obvious beneficiary is the party in power.
Besides Faleiro and Alemao, Prasad Gaonkar, the independent member of Sanguem, had also initially pledged his support for the TMC, but decided later support the Congress with the GFP.
In the melee of defection, the BJP also lost an MP, Alina Saldanha, who represented the constituency of Cortalim. Saldanha resigned Thursday and joined the AAP, saying, “The BJP seems to have forgotten all of its principles and there is chaos in the state.”
Parrikar had brought Saldanha into electoral politics after the death of her husband, Matanhy Saldanha, a few weeks after her victory over Cortalim in the parliamentary elections of 2012. She won the ballot and was re-elected in 2017.
BJP sources, however, said it was unlikely the party would re-present the constituency’s Alina Saldanha anyway, as her margin of victory in 2017 was 518 votes and the wave of sympathy following the death of her husband having declined.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
Read also : With free pilgrimages, power and a Bhandari CM, AAP says it sets the agenda in Goa
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