In a continuation of the political flux in Goa, the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) which was until recently an ally of the ruling BJP has decided to support the opposition Congress party in the Lok Sabha elections 2019. The MGP, Goa's oldest regional party, accused the BJP of 'backstabbing' it.
On Thursday, the MGP Central Committee, the decision-making body of the regional outfit, resolved to work for Congress candidates in both the Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, MGP working president Narayan Sawant said the decision to support the Congress was taken after consulting MLA Sudin Dhavalikar and party workers.
"There is a growing anger among MGP workers after the BJP backstabbed us. The BJP is not to be trusted anymore. Lok Sabha elections are the best opportunity to teach a lesson to the BJP," Sawant said.
The BJP has fielded its sitting MPs - Shripad Naik in North Goa and Narendra Sawaikar in South Goa - while the Congress has fielded Girish Chodankar in North Goa and Francisco Sardinha in South Goa.
The MGP, with its three MLAs, had supported the BJP to form a coalition government post-2017 assembly elections after the Amit Shah-led party failed to get a majority in the 40-member House. The Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three independent MLAs also supported the BJP-led coalition government in the assembly election when the Congress emerged as the single-largest party.
However, last month, following the demise of then Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, two MGP MLAs - Manohar Azgaonkar and Deepak Pawaskar - split from the party, formed a separate group and merged its legislative wing with the BJP.
This was followed by Parrikar's successor as CM, Pramod Sawant, dropping MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar, who was briefly on the verge of being appointed Deputy Chief Minister, from the state's cabinet. Both Pawaskar and Azgonkar were subsequently inducted into the cabinet with the latter getting the post of Deputy Chief Minister.
Besides the Lok Sabha polls, by-elections to three assembly seats in Goa - Shiroda, Mapusa and Mandrem - will also take place on April 23.
MGP president Deepak Dhavalikar is in the fray in Shiroda, where the BJP has fielded Subhash Shirodkar. In Mapusa, the MGP has extended support to Congress candidate Sudhir Kandolkar, while the BJP has given ticket to Joshua D'Souza. "We are yet to take a decision on the Mandrem assembly seat," Narayan Sawant said.
However, the MGP has not yet formally pulled out of the BJP-led coalition.