Panaji: Goa has broken all records in the country, as far as defection of MLAs is concerned, senior BJP leader and Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday, adding that MLAs hop parties in Goa as casually as if they are strolling in a garden.
Speaking at a campaign rally ahead of the May 19 Panaji bypoll in the state capital, Gadkari said that the road ahead is tough for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who heads a BJP-led coalition government, “because of MLAs who are regularly prone to defection”.
“Goa has broken all records in the country. Despite the state’s cultural and intellectual strength, Goa MLAs defect from parties so often here. It is probably influenced by the US. Marriages do not last in that country. They go here and there, as if they are in a garden. Therefore to keep these people, who are constantly looking for greener pastures, in one place and run a government is difficult,” Gadkari said.
Since the 2017 state assembly polls, five sitting MLAs from from Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have quit their respective parties to join the BJP. Out of the five, three are already BJP cabinet ministers, while two have contested the April 23 assembly bypolls on a BJP ticket.
Gadkari in his speech, also expressed disappointment that former state Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Subhash Velingkar was contesting the Panaji by-election, which the Union Minister said, was aimed at cutting into BJP votes.
“He is contesting this election to split BJP’s votes and help the Congress to win elections. I will only say that it is unfortunate. Even though he has quit the party, I still respect him,” Gadkari said.