Panaji: Differences have emerged within the Goa BJP over accepting the support of the two-member Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party legislature party, with a section of the party’s legislators demanding that the regional party should merge with the ruling party instead.
Amid reports of a section of BJP MLAs stalling the prospects of accepting the MGP’s support, BJP MLA Atanasio Monserrate on Tuesday claimed that the MGP, led by the Dhavalikar brothers Sudin and Deepak, was working at cross-purposes with the BJP as well as the Congress in the past and it was time that the “dying” party merged with the ruling dispensation.
“You do not come here, showing that you are supporting our government, reap benefits of our government and then afterwards, start your monkey tricks at the end of the term. It has happened. I don’t want history to repeat itself.if you want to be part of the government,come and merge yourself now, otherwise also your party is dying,” Monserrate told reporters at the Assembly complex.
The BJP has 20 MLAs in the 40-member house, just one short of a simple majority. The ruling party, however, has received letters of unconditional support by three independent MLAs and the two-member MGP.
The MGP has partnered with Congress as well as the BJP governments over the last two decades.
More recently, the MGP had contested the 2017 assembly polls against the BJP, but after the polls, joined the BJP in power. However, in 2019, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant sacked Deputy Chief Minister Sudin Dhavalikar from his cabinet and the BJP engineered a split in the three-member legislative unit of the MGP.
The MGP again contested the 2022 Assembly polls on an anti-BJP plank, but after the results were declared, offered support of its two-member legislature party in BJP’s government formation efforts.
Monserrate claimed that the BJP does not really need MGP’s support, adding that if the regional party’s leadership was keen to assist in providing a stable government in Goa, they should instead merge the outfit into the BJP.
“I do not think there is a need to take in anyone. I think we are strong enough. You should not get in someone who will damage the party. His vote bank and BJP’s vote bank is the same. So why are you simply encouraging someone else’s growth?
“If he is ready to merge his party with ours then it is fine. Then you accept him. Let him be one of us. If he wants to really strengthen the government, come and merge yourself. Show your intentions are clear,” the BJP MLA added.
Dhavalikar has however made light of the comments made by Monserrate, adding that his support for the BJP stemmed from requests made by top BJP leaders including the party President J.P. Nadda, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP’s Goa election in-charge Devendra Fadnavis.
“Fadnavis, Amit Shah called me and BJP President Nadda also called me. I placed the issue before the executive committee of MGP. At around 4 p.m., there was a meeting and it was decided to give unconditional support to the BJP,” Dhavalikar said, while responding to Monserrate’s comments.
“I do not care. I have spoken at a higher level. I do not care about anyone who speaks here. I have nothing to do with them,” he added.