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Congress to launch disqualification petition against rebel MLAs in Goa

Congress will file the disqualification petition against eight MLAs who “merged” the Goa Congress Legislature Party into BJP in September. According to an office holder, Congress will introduce the petition this week.

On September 14, former Prime Minister Digambar Kamat, Michael Lobo, Delilah Lobo, Kedar Naik, Sankalp Amonkar, Rajesh Faldesai, Aleixo Sequeira and Rudolf Fernandes “merged” with the BJP, reducing the Congress to three MLAs in the 40-member assembly house. Since then, there were speculations that two more MLAs would be included in the cabinet along with Kamat, but CT Ravi, the leader of the BJP in Goa, who was in Goa on 14 October to attend the party rallies, had rejected such plans.

The opposition in the state has claimed that these rebel MLAs are silent without demanding positions as “they have been given huge amounts of money”.

Speaking to IANS on Monday, Amit Patkar, chairman of the Goa Pradesh Congress Committee, said that “these MLAs have been given huge amounts of money by the BJP to change parties and some have been assured seats in the cabinet, but there is some confusion between them”.

“The next day, after these 8 MLAs joined BJP, we had told how they got money to embrace (the BJP). Some of them were also assured that they would be given a ministerial berth. But there is disagreement and confusion within the BJP over who should be cut to accommodate the newcomers. This is why these 8 MLAs are silent without claiming positions,” Patkar claimed.

He said Congress will file a disqualification request against these eight MLAs this week.

Congress MLA Carlos Ferreira, also a lawyer, said “we were looking for certain elements and material, that’s why the filing of a petition is postponed”.

Ferreira said Congress will fight to ensure that such unscrupulous apostasy does not take place.

Goa Forward Party President and MLA Vijai Sardesai recently claimed that these rebel MLAs have not been given positions in the cabinet because they were ‘bought’. “They have been bought by the BJP, therefore they cannot claim positions. This is their condition today,” Sardesai had said.

When he contacted Goa BJP President Sadanand Tanavade to know his response to Sardesai’s allegation and reshuffle issue, the former refused to talk about it.

Digvijay Velingkar, secretary general of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) of the Goa Unit, said these eight Congress rebels will not dare claim positions for fear of action. “Most of them are involved in various scams, including mining. They got a huge amount of money (while they joined). That is why they are afraid of BJP action if they claim positions,” Velingkar claimed.

Meanwhile, two individual disqualification petitions against eight MLAs who had switched to the BJP were filed with Goa Assembly Speaker Ramesh Tawadkar on 11 November.

Tawadkar, speaking to IANS, confirmed that the petitions submitted by former AICC secretary Girish Chodankar and one Dominic Noronha have been received by his office. “They have filed the disqualification requests,” he said.

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