‘Difficult for Congress MLAs to resist BJP pressure

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Goa Congress President Girish Chodankar on Friday did not rule out the possibility of more legislators leaving the Opposition party to join the BJP, claiming it was “very difficult” to resist the BJP’s aggressive overtures and accused the ruling party of using money and government agencies to pressurize non-BJP MLAs.

Chodankar’s comments come a day after Congress MLA from Cuncolim, Clafasio Dias, told an informal meeting of party workers in South Goa that he would take their approval before he decides to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). There were media reports that BJP leaders were reaching out to Dias to quit Congress.

“With the way BJP is moving at the national level with their might, they are abusing power and trying to destroy an important institution in the democratic set up which is the opposition party. It is difficult for MLAs to sustain such pressure,” Chodankar told a press conference in Margao town.

He added that the BJP’s agenda is to break opposition parties like the Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and others.

When asked if he could make a statement that no Congress MLA would join the Goa BJP in the coming days, Chodankar said: “With the way BJP government is using a huge amount of money and political power, it is very difficult. Let’s be very practical, it is very difficult to make the statement. You will not believe how aggressively they are using pressure to target our MLAs with money, government, agency pressure.”

In 2018, two Congress MLAs — Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte — quit the Congress and joined the BJP. In March 2019, two other MLAs, alliance ministers from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, split the regional party and joined the BJP.

BJP state President Vinay Tendulkar has been repeatedly saying that two more Congress MLAs are likely to quit the party and join the BJP in the coming days.