Asked if the crisis has blown over, Michael Lobo, the Leader of Opposition who was sacked since, told that the events have been “blown out of proportion”. He accused “outsiders” of calling shots within the party.
Mr Lobo had earlier said there was “some misunderstanding” and assured that he will “explain” to the party leadership. Declaring that there were too many press conferences, he said they have “made their stand clear” in one interaction with the media. Any more will “confuse” the people, he said.
Digambar Kamat was the only MLA missing at the Legislature Party meeting. A former Chief Minister, Mr Kamat was projected as the Chief Ministerial candidate in the last elections too. But the Congress lost and he was miffed that he was not offered the post of the Leader of the Opposition.
The Congress has requested the assembly Speaker to disqualify Mr Kamat and Mr Lobo under the anti-defection law.
Mr Lobo and four other MLAs had gone incommunicado on Sunday, setting off alarm bells within the party. Sources said they met the Chief Minister. Party chief Sonia Gandhi had to step in. The MLAs turned up today for the Day One of the assembly’s Monsoon Session, insisting they had gone to south Goa for a meeting.
Congress sources claimed the BJP had a chartered flight ready to move six of its MLAs out of Goa. A top BJP leader was personally in touch with the MLAs, who were offered anything between ₹ 15 crore and ₹ 20 crore each to defect to the BJP, sources said.
But the plan was finally dropped as the numbers did not add up, sources said. To avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law, two-thirds of the Congress MLAs should change sides. With the party having 11 MLAs, at least eight MLAs should have been ready to cross over.
In 2019, 15 of its 17 Goa MLAs left the Congress and joined the BJP. This time, the party made its MLAs take an anti-defection pledge at temples, mosques and churches, followed by a loyalty pledge in front of Rahul Gandhi.
The ruling BJP has denied allegations of involvement. “The BJP has nothing to do with whatever is happening in the Congress party,” said party spokesman Yatish Naik.
The crisis in the opposition Congress in Goa comes on the heels of the huge BJP-backed political crisis in Maharashtra that saw the collapse of the Uddhav Thackeray government and the installation of the Eknath Shinde-BJP combine.