Two MGP MLAs merged into BJP: Goa Deputy Speaker

Panaji: In a late but politically significant development, two out of the three Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party legislators early on Wednesday, merged the legislative unit of the regional party into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Deputy Speaker Michael Lobo said.

“MGP MLAs Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar have merged with the BJP,” the Deputy Speaker told IANS.

The development comes on the heels of a growing discomfort between the BJP and the MGP, which surfaced openly after the latter was given only two ministerial berths during last week’s government formation, instead of three as demanded by party leader and deputy chief minister Sudin Dhavalikar.

Dhavalikar and Ajgaonkar were sworn in as PWD Minister and Tourism Minister respectively at a swearing in ceremony at Raj Bhavan in the pre-dawn hours of March 19.

The repeated insistence of Dipak Dhavalikar, MGP president and Sudin’s brother, to contest the upcoming bypoll from the Shiroda assembly constituency against the BJP, had also led to tension between the two political units, leading to Wednesday’s development.

“We, Manohar Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar have agreed to merge with the BJP. In view of sub-clause (2) of clause 4 of the 10th Schedule, and in view of the fact that we constitute 2/3rds of the members of the legislative party, such merger shall be deemed to have taken place,” a letter submitted by Ajgaonkar to the Deputy Speaker said.

BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar was present at the state legislative assembly complex, when the duo submitted the letter to Lobo and merged into the BJP in presence of Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

The merger of the two-member legislative unit into the BJP, brings the saffon party on par with the Congress with 14 seats each.

The BJP currently has the support of three MLAs from the Goa Forward party, three Independent legislators and one MGP MLA in form of Sudin Dhavalikar, which takes the tally of the treasury benches to 20 in the 36-member state legislative assembly.

The development could however lead to the likely dropping of deputy Chief Minister Sudin Dhavalikar from the cabinet and possibly from the ruling coalition.

Sudin Dhavalikar could not be contacted for comment.