Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Wednesday dropped Deputy Chief Minister Sudin Dhavalikar after two MLAs of the latter’s MGP broke away and joined the ruling BJP. Dhavalikar was the lone MGP MLA who did not break away from the party. In a communication addressed to Goa Governor Mridula Sinha, Sawant informed her about dropping Dhavalikar.
“I have dropped Sudin Dhavalikar from the Cabinet. The decision on filling up the vacant seat will be taken very soon,” Sawant told PTI. Dhavalikar was allotted portfolios of Transport and Public Works which would be now looked after by Sawant.
During the wee hours Wednesday, two of the three Maharashrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) MLAs—Manohar Ajgaonkar and Dipak Pawaskar—gave a letter to officiating Speaker Michael Lobo, merging their party’s legislative wing with the BJP. Dhavalikar, the third MGP MLA, did not sign the letter.
On Tuesday, MGP president Dipak Dhavalikar had claimed that his party was the target of a conspiracy by opponents.
The mid-night political drama has increased the strength of the BJP from 12 to 14 in the 36-member House, bringing them on par with opposition Congress which has an equal number of MLAs on the floor.
The MGP is an alliance partner of the BJP in Goa since 2012. Pawaskar said the resolution to split from the MGP and create another faction was taken by him and Ajgaonkar at 5 pm Tuesday.
After adopting the resolution, we approached Chief Minister Pramod Sawant with the letter, who instructed us to submit it to officiating Speaker Michael Lobo, he told PTI. The letter was finally handed over to Lobo at 1:45 am Wednesday, Pawaskar said.
The decision to split the legislature party and merge it with the BJP was taken in the interest of the people", the MLA said. People from my constituency wanted that I should join BJP. We were also resigned to the fact that we could not take the MGP forward in the state, Pawaskar said.
He claimed that he would get a ministerial berth in the Sawant-led Cabinet. Sawant is expected to drop Dhavalikar from the Cabinet later Wednesday, a senior official from the Chief Minister's Office said. Dhavalikar is likely to be replaced by Pawaskar.
(With PTI inputs)