PANAJI: The Congress on Monday sought disqualification of two of its leaders – Michael Lobo and former chief minister Digambar Kamat – from the Assembly. Congress alleged that the two senior functionaries were trying to “engineer a defection” in the party for a switchover to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Both the leaders have denied the charge.
Speaking to the media, Goa Congress committee president Amit Patkar said that the petitions were filed with Goa Assembly speaker Ramesh Tawadkar.
“I have submitted the letter to the speaker regarding the resolution of the CLP meeting to remove CLP leader (Lobo),” Patkar said. He added that the new CLP leader will be finalised by today and will be submitted.
He also claimed that Congress has 6 MLAs and one more is expected to join.
The development came hours after five Congress MLAs who allegedly became incommunicado a day ago attended the Assembly proceedings on the first day of the monsoon session.
Patkar was accompanied by deputy CLP leader Sankalp Amonkar, working president and MLA Yuri Alemao, Altone D’Costa, advocate Carlos Alvares Ferreira, Rajesh Faldessai and Rudolf Fernandes.
On Sunday, Goa Congress in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao removed Lobo as the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly in the wake of reports that some Congressmen were switching over to the ruling camp.
On Monday, in a tweet, he said, “It’s not just BJP which is trying to split Goa Congress but also the mining and coal lobby have gotten involved. Big businesses and the government want to create an opposition-free situation in Goa. Goa Congress will continue its fight against these hegemonic forces.”
Fearing defections, Congress General Secretary (Organisations) KC Venugopal on Sunday night said that the party is sending general secretary and Rajya Sabha MP Mukul Wasnik to Goa to oversee the latest political developments in the state.
Wasnik, speaking to reporters on Monday, said that he needs to speak to all the party colleagues and then only he shall be in a position to speak.
Wasnik will be meeting the party leaders and MLAs on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, Lobo said that all the party MLAs had won on the party ticket and they are with the party.
Speaking to the media here, Lobo, who had joined the Congress ahead of the assembly elections earlier this year said, “All Congress MLAs are together. Everybody was there and everything was over.”
He said that yesterday (Sunday) in South Goa we were called and we went. “Then again they are having another press conference. I don’t know why they are trying to confuse people. We have won on the Congress ticket and we are with Congress,” he added.
He also said that in his wife’s constituency, about 6,000 houses were damaged and three trees were uprooted. “So, she had gone to the Chief Minister’s residence. She was called in the morning, then Chief Minister (Pramod Sawant) was not available and called her in the evening, so she went,” Lobo added.
Even Margao MLA Kamat said that the Congress press conference addressed by Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao has hurt him and stunned him.
The Congress has 11 MLAs in the 40-member Goa Assembly. There are rumours that around 7-8 Congress MLAs may cross over to the ruling BJP as a few legislators skipped a crucial party meeting on Sunday.