Goa Congress crisis: Sonia sends Mukul Wasnik to state unit over ‘defection’

Panaji (Goa): Concerned over the conspiracy of defection by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi has asked party MP Mukul Wasnik to visit the coastal state to monitor the latest political developments. Congress leader KC Venugopal tweeted, “Congress President Sonia Gandhi has asked MP Mukul Wasnik to visit Goa to monitor the latest political developments in the state.” The Congress on Sunday also sacked Michael Lobo from the post of Leader of Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly. The Congress said that the BJP is trying for a 2/3 split and has offered huge amount of money to the party MLAs.

The Congress alleged that Lobo along with Digambar Kamat hatched a defection conspiracy in “complete coordination” with the BJP. “The BJP was trying to do a 2/3 split to see that at least 8 of our MLAs go away. Huge amounts of money have been offered to many of our people. I am surprised by the amount offered. But Our 6 MLAs stood firm, I am proud of them,” Dinesh Gundu Rao, Congress Goa in-charge said at a press conference on Sunday.

Rao said that some of our leaders had conspired with the BJP to weaken the Congress party in Goa and lead to defection. “This conspiracy was led by two of our own leaders, Leader of the Opposition Michael Lobo and Digambar Kamat. These two men were working in perfect coordination with the BJP.

Read also: Goa Congress sacks Michael Lobo from the post of Leader of Opposition in the Assembly for planning defection

One man—Digambar Kamat—did this to protect his skin because there are so many cases against him and another man—Michael Lobo—for power and position. BJP wants to eliminate the opposition. ”Rao said that a new leader will be elected for the post of Leader of Opposition. Whatever action is taken against such defection by law, anti-party work will be done. Let’s see how many people will stay/move. We have five MLAs here, we are in touch with some more MLAs and they will be with us.”

Rao insisted that the Congress party would not be disappointed or weakened. “We will take up this issue more aggressively. We will inform people that this betrayal is being done by two people for power and personal gain,” he said.

Amid rumors that some Congress MLAs may join the ruling BJP, Goa Assembly Speaker Ramesh Tavdkar on Sunday canceled the notification announcing elections for the post of deputy speaker.

Earlier on Sunday, Congress MLA and Michael Lobo’s wife Delilah Lobo was seen leaving the residence of CM and BJP leader Pramod Sawant. When asked whether Congress MLAs had come to meet him, Goa CM Pramod Sawant said, “As Chief Minister, many people come to meet me. Tomorrow is the Vidhan Sabha, people came to meet me. I am in my assembly work. I am busy… why would I comment on issues related to other parties?”

The order to withdraw the notification for the election of the Deputy Chairman was withdrawn on Sunday morning. Voting was to be held on July 12 during the upcoming monsoon assembly session. Legislature Secretary Namrata Ulman has said that the notification issued on July 8 under Rule 308 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Goa Legislative Assembly stands withdrawn.

“Therefore the notice of nomination for the election of Deputy Speaker issued under Rules 9(2) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Goa Legislative Assembly is also withdrawn,” the order said. All members can take note of it. No. Nomination will be accepted for the above election.”

The two-week long assembly session will begin on Monday. The withdrawal comes amid rumors that a group of Congress MLAs may part ways to join the BJP. Despite several meetings of Congress MLAs in Margao city on Sunday, there was no formal confirmation of this. In the Goa assembly elections held earlier this year, the BJP emerged as the single largest party, winning 20 seats in the 40-member state assembly and reducing the Congress to 11 seats. Following the political developments in Goa, Eknath Shinde’s camp joined hands with the BJP to form the government in Maharashtra after the collapse of the Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government.