Twisted loyalty: 17 MLAs shift parties in past 5 years



If Ponda’s Congress MLA Ravi Naik joins the BJP on Sunday as is being speculated, he will become the 18th legislator to have switched party loyalty in the current five-year term of the Goa legislative assembly.

To put this in perspective, nearly 50 per cent of the 37 MLAs affiliated to parties have switched sides during the present term. The balance three MLAs are independents.

Also of interest is the fact that six MLAs resigned from the membership of the House prematurely necessitating bye-elections in four.  

Three of these six politicians earned their House membership back winning the subsequent bye-election on an opposing party's ticket -- Vishwajit Rane in 2017 itself and the Subhash Shirodkar-Dayanand Sopte duo in 2019. 

The other three, Siddharth Kuncolienkar, Luizinho Faleiro and Jayesh Salgaonkar, did not contest bye-election the former because he had to make way for the Late Manohar Parrikar in 2017, and the Faleiro-Salgaonkar duo because their quitting the House was too close to the end of the legislature's term not requiring a bye-election.

While the BJP was the major beneficiary of these switch in party loyalties, the Congress ended up being the worst affected, losing 13 of its 17 legislators in the last five years.

The MGP was also reduced from three MLAs to a lone MLA and the Goa Forward Party also lost one of its three MLAs. All these three legislators joined the BJP.

Shortly after the government was formed under the leadership of then chief minister late Manohar Parrikar in 2017, Valpoi Congress MLA Vishwajeet Rane resigned to join BJP and he contested the bye-election and won on the BJP ticket.

In order to enable Parrikar to get re-elected from Panaji and retain his chief minister’s post, then Panaji MLA Siddharth Kuncoliencar resigned as Panaji MLA, becoming the second MLA to do so.

In 2018, Congress MLAs Dayanand Sopte and Subhash Shirodkar also resigned and later they joined the BJP.

Two more MLAs got replaced mid-term due to their demise -- Manohar Parrikar and Francis D'Souza. Following Parrikar's and then D'Souza's demise, by-polls were held in their Panaji and Mapusa constituencies together with those in Shiroda and Mandrem constituencies vacated by Shirodkar and Sopte.

When Pramod Sawant took over as chief minister, two MGP MLAs Manohar (Babu) Ajgaonkar and Deepak Pauskar left the party but did not resign as MLAs and went on to join the BJP. A disqualification petition against these MLAs is sub-judice.

Then in July 2019, Congress suffered a major setback when 10 MLAs switched loyalties to the BJP. The MLAs Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar, Babush Monserrate, Jennifer Monserrate, Filipe Nery Rodrigues, Isidore Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Nilkanth Halarnkar, Clafacio Dias, Wilfred D'Sa and Tony Fernandes joined the BJP without resigning as MLAs.

Recently, Navelim’s Congress MLA Luizinho Faleiro and Goa Forward MLA Jayesh Salgaonkar also resigned as legislators. Faleiro joined the TMC and was later elected as Rajya Sabha MP, while Salgaonkar joined the BJP.

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