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Another jolt to Goa Congress as MLA Aleixo Lourenco quits

Aleixo Lourenco. Photo: Facebook/Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco

Aleixo Lourenco. Photo: Facebook/Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco

The Congress received another jolt ahead of the coming Goa Assembly election, with three-time MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco from Curtorim in south Goa resigning on Monday from the party as well as the Assembly.

This leaves a severely-depleted Congress with just two MLAs in its fold, former Chief Ministers and veterans Digambar Kamat and Pratapsingh Rane. It’s a major comedown from 2017 when the party emerged as the single largest party with 17 legislators in the 40-seat Assembly.

However, at the time, the BJP, which won 13 seats, forged an alliance with some regional outfits and Independents to form the government.

Last week, the Congress included Mr. Lourenco’s name in the first list of eight candidates for the Assembly poll slated to be held in February.

Speculation is rife that Mr. Lourenco may join the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has been on a hectic headhunting since the past few months.

In September, former Chief Minister Luizinho Faleiro resigned from the Congress as well as the sitting MLA of the Navelim seat to join the TMC.

Less than 10 days ago, another former Goa Chief Minister, Churchill Alemao, who is the sitting NCP legislator from Benaulim, re-entered the TMC’s fold.

‘Season of defections’

In fact, no less than seven sitting MLAs – three of them former Chief Ministers, including Mr. Faleiro and Mr. Alemao, have resigned from the Assembly to join different political parties ahead of the polls, making the phrase ‘season of defections’ truly a cliché in Goa.

A fortnight ago, former Chief Minister Ravi Naik, another Congress veteran and MLA from Ponda, tendered his resignation to switch sides with the BJP.

On Thursday last week, former Minister Alina Saldanha became the first sitting MLA from the BJP to quit the party ahead of the polls to join Arwind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Ms. Saldanha, who served as the Environment and Forest Minister under the erstwhile Manohar Parrikar-led BJP government, was the MLA from Cortalim.

Last week, influential Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte from Porvorim resigned from the Assembly to join the BJP in the presence of the BJP’s election in charge Devendra Fadnavis, while another important leader, Prasad Gaonkar, whilst not resigning, is rumoured to be joining the Congress.

Since 2017, no less than 22 MLAs have defected to other parties, with no less than 18 legislators joining the BJP.

“How this ideological flip-flop, on the part of sitting MLAs to join either the BJP or any other parties, will play out remains to be seen. There is also the problem of disgruntlement on the part of the loyalists within a party, say for instance the BJP, which has been ‘importing’ a large number of candidates from either the Congress or dysfunctional indigenous parties like the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP),” said a Goa-based analyst.

He observed that regional parties like the TMC and the AAP were using sitting MLAs who were stalwarts in their respective constituencies (like Mr. Faleiro, Ms. Saldanha and Mr. Alemao) as a ladder to make inroads into Goa.


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Printable version | May 13, 2022 8:46:19 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/another-jolt-to-goa-congress-as-mla-aleixo-lourenco-quits/article37996053.ece