Goa minister Michael Lobo resigned today, just a month before polls in the state, and quit the BJP, saying it is “no longer a party for the common man”. He may be headed to the Congress in a reversal of the trend of Congress MLAs crossing over to the ruling party in the past few years.
“I have resigned from both the posts (minister and MLA). I will see what steps are to be taken next. I have also resigned from the BJP,” Michael Lobo, who was in charge of the state waste management department, told reporters.
“The voters told me that the BJP is no more a party of the common people,” he said, defending his move.
He was noncommittal on whether he would join the Congress, claiming that he was in talks with parties. “Whichever party I join, I will ensure that they win maximum seats,” he said.
Michael Lobo had been openly critical of his party in recent months, and has said it is not the party that former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar had built.
He had a public falling out with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who took charge after Manohar Parrikar’s death in 2019.
“The BJP was known as a party with a difference. It is known lately that it is not a party with a difference. Party workers have no importance in the party now,” Mr Lobo was quoted as saying last month, in a precursor to his exit.
He had said that leaders close to Manohar Parrikar were being side-lined in the party.
Michael Lobo is the third Christian MLA to quit the BJP in Goa. Last month, two BJP MLAs – Alina Saldanha and Carlos Almeida quit the party.
Mr Lobo’s exit may impact the party in Goa’s Bardesh, which has six assembly seats including his own constituency Calangute. The BJP’s strength will come down to 24 in the 40-member Goa assembly. On Sunday, Mr Lobo was seen at the launch of the campaign of a Congress candidate from Saligao, the constituency near Calangute.
But his speculated entry into the Congress has stirred some discontent in the party. According to reports, he has pitched for a list of candidates, including his wife Delilah.
The BJP was reportedly not inclined to field Delilah Lobo, who has been campaigning from Siolim constituency.
Goa will vote for a new assembly on February 14. Election results in Goa and four other states will be declared on March 10.
The BJP, Congress, Goa Forward Party (GFP), Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Trinamool Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the main parties contesting in Goa.