12 Jul 2022

Congress Drops Goa Revolt, But BJP In Touch With Rebels: Sources

So far, the Congress appears to have averted a Shiv Sena-style revolt in Goa, but sources say possible defectors are in touch with the state's ruling BJP, a sign that the plan has not been foiled.
At least eight of the 11 Congress MLAs need to change for the BJP's plan to succeed. Sources say the plan is on track and former chief minister Digambar Kamat is in touch with the BJP to make it happen.

Congress sources say the BJP had a chartered flight ready to move six of its MLAs from Goa. A top BJP leader was personally in touch with the MLAs, who were each offered ₹15 to ₹20 crore for the switch, sources said. The plan was reportedly scrapped when the number of MLAs fell short.

Accused by the Congress of trying to create a rebellion, Digambar Kamat conspicuously missed the meeting called by senior party leaders Mukul Wasnik and Dinesh Gundu Rao last evening. It was attended by 10 other Congress MLAs.

The revolt may be contained for now, but the Congress says it will not back down and has several MLAs on "defection watch".

One of them is Michael Lobo, who appeared yesterday - he was in solitary confinement on Sunday - to insist that he is in Congress and that outsiders are targeting him.

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant strongly denied any role in the Congress's apparent crisis.

"The BJP has nothing to do with the current crisis in the Congress," Sawant told NDTV.

The Congress yesterday said there was "nothing wrong" in the party and it was the BJP that was trying to divide its Goa unit.

The Congress alleged that Michael Lobo and Digambar Kamat had "conspired" with the BJP to cause defection. The party asked the Assembly Speaker to disqualify Mr. Kamat and Mr. Lobo under the Anti-Defection Act. Mr. Lobo was also dismissed as Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Kamat was tipped as the Congress' chief ministerial candidate in the Goa elections earlier this year. But after the Congress lost, he was upset that he lost out on the post of Leader of the Opposition.

The Congress went into crisis mode on Sunday when five of its MLAs went 'missing'. They turned up at the rally on Monday and insisted that they had gone to South Goa for the meeting. Sources claimed that five MLAs led by Digambar Kamat met the Goa Chief Minister on Sunday.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi rushed senior party leader Mukul Wasnik to Goa for the shootout.

Mr Kamat is still in touch with the BJP, according to sources.

Looking at the BJP, Mr. Wasnik said there are some "habitual offenders" who often try to lure MLAs from other parties.

The Congress compared the Goa plan to the Shiv Sena coup in neighboring Maharashtra, where Uddhava Thackeray's coalition government recently collapsed due to an insurgency led by Eknath Shinde, who became chief minister and formed a government with the BJP.

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