The expansion of the Goa cabinet took place on Saturday as a total of three Congress rebels and a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA took oath as ministers at the Raj Bhavan, Panaji, days after ten Congress MLAs switched sides to join the BJP. The rebels who joined the Cabinet are--Chandrakant Kavlekar, Jennifer Monserrate and Filipe Nery Rodrigues, and the lone BJP MLA who was sworn-in is Michael Lobo. Lobo had resigned as Deputy Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly earlier in the day.
Kavlekar, a former leader of Opposition, is likely to be appointed as the deputy chief minister. The development comes after four ministers -- Deputy Chief Minister Vijay Sardesai, Rohan Khaunte, Vinod Paliencar, and Jayesh Salongakar were sacked from the ministry to accommodate the Congress MLAs who defected to the BJP.
Speaker Rajesh Patnekar said that the Assembly will function as the per schedule, according to news agency ANI. "Though new ministers have been inducted, the Assembly will go on as per the schedule. The new ministers will have to study their portfolios while answering questions on the floor of the House. As far as I am concerned, there is no rescheduling of the Assembly and the Congress party will have to give the name of Leader of Opposition by Monday," Patnekar told ANI.
On July 10, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant had gone to Delhi along with 10 MLAs to meet senior BJP leaders including working president JP Nadda and Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss the development. Following this, the rebel MLAs led by Kavlekar had joined the BJP.
With ten MLAs changing the sides, the strength of Congress on the floor of the House has been reduced to five. The MLAs who defected are--Chandrakant Kavalekar, Babush Monserrate, Jennifer Monserrate, Tony Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Clafasio, Wilfred De Sa, Nilkant Halankar and Isidore Fernandes.
The Goa Assembly has a total strength of 40 members-- 17 (BJP), 15 (Congress), 1 (NCP), 1 (Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party), 3 (Goa Forward Party) and 3 (Independent). With the inclusion of 10 Congress MLAs, the strength of BJP has now risen to 27.