Seven months after they took a “loyalty pledge” at temples, churches and mosques, eight of 11 Congress MLAs in Goa have switched to the ruling BJP. They had even taken an oath in the presence of Rahul Gandhi, hoping to convince voters — and the party leadership — that they would not switch after elections.
According to the anti-defection law, if two-thirds of legislators from a party merge with another party, then the MLAs cannot be disqualified. With disqualification out of the question, the Congress party stands completely obliterated, after being reduced to only 3 MLAs in the 40-member Goa state assembly.
Suggesting their act of betrayal had the blessings of God and timing their move with the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra that the Opposition party is deeply invested in and which has been attracting widespread public support, former CM Digambar Kamat appeared to claim that his deceit had divine approval.
The Congress, in turn, engaged in wordplay and called BJP’s ‘Operation Lotus’ as ‘Operation Keechad’ (mud) in Goa. The Congress said that it was not affected by the recent exodus, and claimed that the BJP is engineering such splits in a desperate move, daunted by the success of the Bharat Jodo yatra.
After the first defection bid was foiled back in July which eventually led to the removal of Lobo from the LoP post, a helpless Congress couldn’t prevent it from happening again this time around. Back in 2019, the Congress saw 10 of its 15 MLAs joining BJP. This time around, the defection further signified the merger of two legislative parties in Goa.
The BJP and its allies are already in a majority in Goa with 25 MLAs, five over the half-way mark in the 40-member assembly. The BJP is now at 33; the opposition is down to just seven MLAs.