Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on July 12 said he had asked three MLAs of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and Independent legislator Rohan Khaunte to resign from his cabinet, as he would induct four new ministers on July 14.
“I have asked three GFP ministers and Khaunte to resign from the cabinet. I have given them the instructions as per the orders from my high command,” Sawant told PTI over phone from the national capital. “I will induct four new ministers tomorrow,” the CM added.
Of the four, three are likely to be Congress turncoats. BJP leader and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly, Michael Lobo, could be the fourth.
The GFP, a BJP ally, did not make its next course of action immediately clear.
“We are a part of the NDA and had joined the BJP-led state government after talks with the national leadership of the BJP. The present state BJP leaders were not part of the discussions then. As such, we will take appropriate steps only after talking with the NDA leadership at the Centre. We haven’t yet received any official communication from BJP central leaders. On the contrary, we have received indications that the matter will be sorted out amicably,” a party statement said.
The GFP lent support to the BJP to form the government in 2017 under the leadership of Manohar Parrikar, and again in March 2019 when Sawant took over following Parrikar’s death.
GFP chief Vijay Sardesai is currently Deputy Chief Minister, while Vinod Palyekar and Jayesh Salgaonkar are ministers.
Ten of the 15 Congress MLAs, led by Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar, joined BJP on July 10. With this, the BJP has 27 legislators in the 40-member Assembly, and no longer needs allies for the government to survive.
Lobo, who was instrumental in getting the Congress MLAs to switch sides, alleged some ministers tried to arm-twist Sawant.
“The Chief Minister is ready to help, but you cannot just be arm-twisting him. You cannot put your ego before him or say ‘if you do not do my work I will topple the government’. This language will not do,” the BJP leader said.
The swearing-in of new ministers will take place at 4pm on July 13, Lobo added.
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