Giving a big jolt to the Congress party, Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte on Tuesday morning resigned as the party’s MLAs and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in the evening at a function held in New Delhi.
This comes as a huge setback to the Congress party, which has been staking claim to form government in the state by taking advantage of the prolonged illness of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.
It is pertinent to note that though BJP could not resolve the leadership issue, the ruling party has succeeded in poaching two Congress legislators, in turn, demolishing the status of the Opposition party as the single largest party in the assembly.
Shiroda MLA Shirodkar and Mandrem MLA Sopte, who flew to the national capital Monday midnight, met BJP national president Amit Shah on Tuesday morning. Later, they tendered their resignation as MLAs of the Goa legislative assembly via fax messages to Speaker Pramod Sawant and also quit the Congress party before joining BJP.
Both, Shirodkar and Sopte, sent their resignation letters to the Speaker at 12.30 pm and their resignations were immediately accepted by the Speaker.
With the resignation of the two legislators, the strength of the 40-member state legislative assembly has now been reduced to 38.
Now the strength of the ruling coalition government remains 23 with BJP 14, three each of Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Goa Forward Party and three Independents. The strength of the Congress legislators has reduced to 14 from 16. Nationalist Congress Party has lone legislator in the state assembly.
Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’, Speaker Sawant said that on Tuesday afternoon, he received resignation letters from the two Congress legislators – Shirodkar and Sopte – by fax. “As they confirmed with me that they are resigning as MLAs willingly without any pressure, I accepted the resignations and informed the Election Commission office accordingly,” he said, adding that after completing the due process, copies of the same
will be sent to all the members of the House, Governor and the Election Commission.
He further said that it is up to the Election Commission to decide when to conduct bypolls for the two seats, which have been vacant now after the resignation of the concerned legislators.
Meanwhile, Shirodkar and Sopte joined BJP at a function held at the party’s office in New Delhi in the presence of Union minister and BJP leader Piyush Goyal, Rajya Sabha MP and state BJP president Vinay Tendulkar, Union Minister for AYUSH Shripad Naik and Health Minister Vishwajit Rane.
Speaking to media after emerging from the meeting with BJP president Amit Shah, both, Shirodkar and Sopte said that they have resigned from Congress and decided to join BJP on development issue.
Shirodkar also claimed that another 2-3 Congress legislators will quit the party soon. However, he did not mention the names.
Interestingly, Sopte had become a giant killer in the 2017 assembly election by defeating BJP candidate and then chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar in Mandrem constituency with a margin of more than 7,000 votes.
Sopte was first elected as BJP MLA in 2007 from then Pernem constituency, but he had left the party on the eve of 2012 assembly election and joined Congress. However, he had lost the election as Congress candidate to BJP’s Parsekar in 2012.
Shirodkar, who was president of Goa Pradesh Congress Committee in the past, has left the party for the first time after serving it for 34 years in various capacities including being a six-time MLA. He had lost the assembly election in 2007 and 2012 to BJP’s Mahadev Naik.