Panaji: Goa saw political drama again late last night. At about 1:45 PM, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) virtually merged with the BJP. Two MLAs ― Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pavaskar ― informed Speaker Michael Lobo of their decision to join the BJP.
The MGP had three MLAs. Under the anti-defection law, at least two-thirds of a party legislator strength must move to another party to avoid disqualification from the legislature. The BJP now has 14 MLAs in the 36-member House.
The only MGP MLA who did not sign the letter submitted to the speaker is deputy chief minister Sudhind Dhavalikar.
Speaker Lobo, confirming the breakdown of the MGP, said that two-thirds of the party’s MLAs had formed a separate party and merged with the BJP. All the formalities have been completed according to the constitution.
Decision on Dhavalikar today
Chief Minister Pradeep Sawant said that the fate of Dhavalikar ― whether he will stay in the Cabinet ― would be decided on Wednesday. Sawant said the swearing-in ceremony will be held after that.
Sawant wins floor test
After the death of Manohar Parrikar, then Speaker of the Goa Assembly Pramod Sawant was elected the chief minister. On 20 March, he had to prove he commanded a majority in the House through a floor test. To save the government, 19 MLAs were needed, Sawant was supported by 20 MLAs. The opposition had 15.
MLA count of BJP, Congress equals
The number of BJP legislators in the Assembly has increased from 12 to 14. Congress has as many MLAs. The MGP has been a BJP ally since 2012.
How Lobo became Speaker
Michael Lobo used to be the deputy speaker of the Goa Assembly. Pradeep Sawant was the Speaker. But after Parrikar’s death, Sawant was made the chief minister. Until further or a different arrangement was made, the deputy speaker got a promotion.
There are 36 legislators in the 40-member Goa Assembly these days. Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Parrikar died on 17 March and another BJP legislator Francis D’Souza passed away last month. Two Congress MLAs Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte had resigned last year.
The following are the respective party strengths in the Goa Assembly as of now.
BJP (after MGP merger) 14
Goa Forward Party 3