"The Congress will challenge them to resign as MLAs and then re-contest on BJP's ticket from their respective Assembly constituencies. If they think they can get re-elected on BJP's ticket, they should try their luck," Mulla said.
The Goa Congress has said it will challenge its 10 former MLAs, who joined the BJP last year, to resign and seek fresh mandate on the saffron party’s ticket. State Congress spokesman Urfan Mulla told PTI on Thursday that his party leaders will visit homes of the 10 MLAs and challenge them to re-contest the election. After the 2017 Goa polls, a hung Assembly had emerged. But, the BJP outsmarted the Congress by cobbling together a coalition quickly. In July last year, 10 Congress MLAs switched over to the BJP.
“The Congress will challenge them to resign as MLAs and then re-contest on BJP’s ticket from their respective Assembly constituencies. If they think they can get re-elected on BJP’s ticket, they should try their luck,” Mulla said. These MLAs got elected in the 2017 polls on Congress’ ticket, as the voters had rejected the BJP, he claimed. “But these ten MLAs ditched the voters and join the BJP,” he alleged.
The state Congress leaders will start visiting these 10 MLAs later this week, Mulla said. “St Cruz MLA Antonio Fernandes, who is among these 10 lawmakers, will be the first one to be given a letter challenging him to resign,” he said. Mulla also said that the Congress is planning to hold a ‘mashal rally’ (with fire torches), similar to the protest held by former chief minister Manohar Parrikar before the 2012 state polls, against the presence of off-shore casinos in the Mandovi river in Panaji. Locals have been opposing the presence of these vessels in the river.
Before the 2012 elections, Parrikar led a ‘mashal rally’ in Panaji, urging the then Digambar Kamat-led state government to shift the casinos out of the river. The Congress is miffed with the recent statement of state Ports Minister Michael Lobo, who said the off-shore casinos should not be shifted out of the Mandovi river, and suggested that more such vessels be introduced in other rivers of the state.
“We have planned a strategy. We will hold exactly the same kind of agitation that was held by Parrikar. We want to remind the BJP of its assurance on the off-shore casinos,” Mulla said, adding that the exact date for the rally would be announced soon. He accused the BJP of “betraying” the people of Goa on several issues, including relocation of casinos. “The Congress, in its 2017 poll manifesto, specifically mentioned that it is committed to remove the off-shore vessels. We have remained committed to that assurance,” Mulla said.