- Congress in Goa is left with only five lawmakers in the state
- It had emerged as single largest party in 2017
- Since two-thirds of lawmakers split, they don't have to quit the assembly
As it fights for survival in Karnataka, the Congress has imploded in neighbouring Goa. Ten out of 15 Congress lawmakers have split from the party in Goa and have merged with the ruling BJP.
"10 Congress MLAs, along with their Opposition Leader, have merged with the BJP. The strength of the BJP has now risen to 27. They had come for development of the state and their constituency. They have not put forward any condition, they have joined BJP unconditionally," Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.
The Congress is left with only five lawmakers in the seaside state where the party had emerged the single largest party in 2017. Since two-thirds of the lawmakers have split, they do not have to quit the assembly.
The lawmakers who broke away are Babu Kavalekar, Babush Monserratte, his wife Jennifer Monserrate, Tony Fernandes, Francis Silveira, Filipe Neri Rodrigues, Clafasio, Wilfred De Sa, Nilkant Halankar and Isidore Fernandes. As they met the Speaker, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant was present. The BJP now has 17 lawmakers in the 40-member assembly.
Mr Kavlekar, who is said to be the leader of rebel lawmakers, said, "If no development is done, how will people choose us next time? They (Congress) couldn't fulfil the promises they made. There were several opportunities to form the government but due to lack of unity among some senior leaders, it could never be done. So we did this."
Last month, the Congress suffered a similar collapse in Telangana, where 12 of its 18 lawmakers crossed over to Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's party.
The Goa crisis has emerged as the Congress fights for survival in Karnataka, where its coalition with the Janata Dal Secular (JDS) is dangerously close to a collapse after 18 exits. If the resignations are accepted - the speaker has rejected many of them as invalid - the balance will shift from the Congress-JD(S) to the BJP, which had last year fallen just short of the majority mark.
Karnataka Congress leaders have made desperate efforts to save the government, showing more spirit than their colleagues in other states.
But the Congress's chief troubleshooter in Karnataka, DK Shivakumar, was a lone man standing as he flew to Mumbai on Wednesday to try and pacify rebel lawmakers who have been in the city since Saturday. He was not even allowed by the police to enter the five-star Renaissance hotel where the rebels are staying.
He waited for hours outside the hotel. Feuding Mumbai Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam joined Mr Shivakumar five hours into his vigil, betraying the lack of cohesion in the Maharashtra Congress.
The Congress has been stumbling from crisis to crisis since its defeat in the national election, in which the party won just 52 seats across the country and was wiped out in 17 states. In the remaining states, the party is crumbling in slow-mo.
Much of the party's failure has been blamed on infighting, which has intensified in states like Punjab and Rajasthan, where it is in power.