Friends met, had tea, joined BJP: Ex-Congress MLA on Goa merger

Panaji: In this day and age, splitting a political party and subsequent mergers are as easy as that, according newly inducted BJP MLA Atanasio Monserrate, who was elected on a Congress ticket from Panaji assembly constituency in May.

When asked how Wednesday's split of 10 Congress MLAs and their subsequent merger in the BJP was choreographed, Monserrate's response was: "All friends got together for a cup of tea and decided we will merge with the BJP". Less than two months back, Monserrate contested a bitterly fought campaign for the Panaji bypoll against BJP's Siddarth Kuncalienkar, beating the latter by 1,758 votes.

Monserrate, who has been chargesheeted for raping a minor girl last year, was repeatedly targeted by the BJP state president Vinay Tendulkar as well as Chief Minister Pramod Sawant in course of the campaign, with the latter even saying that women would be unsafe in Panaji, if Monserrate is elected to power. Apart from the 10 Congress MLA who joined the BJP late on Wednesday, as many as five MLAs from the Congress and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party have joined the ruling party over the last two years.

In 2017, when the results of the state assembly election were announced, the BJP had 13 MLAs, while the Congress had 17. As of Wednesday, the BJP now have 27 MLAs, while the Congress has only five MLAs in the state assembly.

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