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July 28, 1999
Goa Congress invites MGP to join government
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji
In an attempt to counter rebellion within the party, the Goa Congress has decided to invite the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party to join the government despite enjoying absolute majority in the 40-member House. Congress has 23 members in the house and after MGP joins in, its strength will go up to 27.
A formal announcement to this effect will soon be made in New Delhi by AICC general secretary Madhavrao Scindia in the presence of all four MGP legislators led by former union minister, Ramakant Khalap. At least one of the MGP MLAs (not Khalap) would be later inducted into the state cabinet.
This rather unconventional move of Congress to seek another party's participation in the government despite enjoying a majority will not only reduce to the opposition to just 12 members, but also make it difficult for rebels within the party to topple the government.
"We decided to respond to the need of putting an end to the tamasha of defections going on in Goa since 1990,'' Khalap said while addressing a joint press briefing on Tuesday.
Defections have become order of the day in this tourist state, which has witnessed 11 chief ministers and two brief spells of President's rule in last nine years.
Khalap is likely to contest one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Goa and has not ruled out the possibility of MGP ultimately merging with the Congress.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, which is the main opposition party in the state, has reacted with amusement to the new development. The party's state chief Manohar Parrikar, in fact, is confident that the Congress-MGP alliance would work in his party's favour in the forthcoming polls.
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