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Two Congress Leaders in Goa Called it Quits; Aligned with BJP

Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, have together landed Congress on thin ice while reducing their number from 16 to 14 in Legislative assembly of Goa with their resignations from the aforesaid party.

Both ex- Congress leaders who flew to Delhi late night on Monday, faxed their resignation letters to Speaker Pramod Sawant. By Tuesday evening, they were with the BJP.

This departure of two members at this critical hour can jeopardize the whole situation for congress which is now evenly matched with the BJP, which is trying to hold its coalition together as Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar battles a pancreatic condition.

Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar left for Delhi late on Monday night and, until their meeting with Amit Shah, had been very secretive despite speculation about their party swap.

“We expect two-three more legislators to come (with us), not today but in the coming days,” Subhash Shirodkar was quoted as saying after his meeting with the BJP president.

The Congress expressed shock. Both lawmakers were part of a Congress meet held to discuss the political situation arising out of Mr Parrikar’s health.

Last night, Congress leader A Chellakumar told PTI that he had spoken to both the legislators and they had assured him that they were not quitting the party. This morning, that changed dramatically.

Mr Chellakumar admitted that the legislators “may have been taken by the BJP”. He alleged that the two were intimidated by Amit Shah and poached by Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who is seen to be aiming for the Chief Minister’s post in case Manohar Parrikar steps down over his poor health.

“I got a message that Vishwajit Rane was the man who has convinced and taken them to Delhi and he has bargained with the BJP high command that if he got the two Congress MLAs, he should be made the Chief Minister,” Mr Chellakumar claimed.

The latest shake-up in Goa politics comes alongside the BJP’s need to firm up its numbers as coalition partners clamour for meaty portfolios.

The BJP also hopes to stymie Congress efforts to raise numbers to form a coalition government.

The ruling BJP, with 14 lawmakers, has the support of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and the Goa Forward Party – both with three lawmakers each, three independent lawmakers and one legislator from the Nationalist Congress Party.

The Congress party recently demanded that they be invited to form government in the state, since the BJP-led coalition was in a state of flux over Mr Parrikar’s health.