Panaji, July 12 : Goa will soon have a new-look cabinet after the induction of 10 Congress MLAs on Wednesday, even as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday called four non-BJP ministers in the alliance government, and asked them to step down to accommodate some of the new inductees in the cabinet in the forthcoming reshuffle.
BJP sources said that now former Leader of Opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar would also be inducted as a deputy Chief Minister during an oath-taking ceremony at the Raj Bhavan which has been scheduled for 3 pm on Saturday.
“I have directed four ministers, three from the Goa Forward and one Independent Minister to resign as ministers as directed by the party leadership,” Sawant told reporters.
The four ministers who have been directed to resign are deputy Chief Minister Vijai Sardesai, ministers Vinod Palienkar and Jayesh Salgaocar from Goa Forward and Rohan Khaunte who is an Independent MLA. Another Minister Govind Gaude, an Independent MLA, may survive the cull, a BJP leader said on condition of anonymity.
Soon after Sawant’s statement however, Goa Forward party’s official Twitter handle denied any communication from the central BJP leadership and in a defiant message said, that the present crop of state BJP leaders were not part of discussions in 2017, when the BJP-led coalition government was formed under the leadership of late Manohar Parrikar.
“As such we will take appropriate steps only after talking with the NDA leadership at the Centre. We have not yet received any official communications from the @BJP4India central leaders. On the contrary, we have received indications that the matter will be sorted amicable,” Goa Forward tweeted.
Earlier today, deputy Speaker and BJP MLA Michael Lobo had dropped hints that some alliance ministers who were arm-twisting Chief Minister Pramod Sawant would be dropped, in order to accommodate the new inductees.
“CM is ready to help, but you cannot just arm-twist him. You cannot put your ego before him or say if you do not do my work I will throw the government. This language will not do,” Lobo said.
Left with five MLAs in the state assembly, the Congress has called the exit of its 10 MLAs as “betrayal of the people’s trust”, even as the coalition alliance partners especially Goa Forward, three of whose ministers are tipped to be dropped from the 12-member cabinet.
“The 10 leaders who have quit the party have not just betrayed the Congress, but the people of Goa. They will be punished by the people. The Congress will field fresh faces in the constituencies from where our elected representatives have now joined the party,” Goa Mahila Congress president Pratima Coutinho said.
Earlier today, the newly inducted 10 MLAs returned from Delhi after meeting BJP national president and national working president Amit Shah and J.P. Nadda respectively.