Goa BJP MLA Carlos Almeida quits, in talks with Trinamool

Several leaders from the Congress, the NCP, and the BJP have joined the Trinamool Congress

The tradition of political resignations and defections in Goa continued unabated ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls after Carlos Almeida, BJP MLA from the Vasco da Gama Assembly constituency in South Goa, quit the party and the State Assembly on Tuesday.

Mr. Almeida, a two-term MLA who has held the Vasco seat since 2012, claimed he was being “sidelined” by the BJP, while alleging that the saffron party had lost its direction in Goa after (former BJP Chief Minister) Manohar Parrikar’s demise.

He is believed to be in talks with the Trinamool Congress, which has had a fair measure of success in recruiting a number of Catholic MLAs in recent months including former Chief Ministers Luizinho Faleiro (Congress) and Churchill Alemao (NCP) and most recently Aleixo Lourenco, who quit the Congress on Monday.

With Mr. Almeida’s resignation, the strength of the BJP is now down to 24 in the 40-seat Assembly.

Mr. Almeida’s disenchantment with the saffron party increased ever since it re-inducted Mr. Almeida’s rival, Krishna ‘Daji’ Salkar, into the party fold.

Incidentally, Mr. Salkar had quit the BJP some years ago. To Mr. Almeida’s astonishment, his aide — BJP’s Vasco block president Deepak Naik — came out in support of Mr. Salkar’s entry, even going as far to say he would have no objection if Mr. Naik was picked over Mr. Almeida for the Vasco seat.

In November, he had urged the BJP’s top brass to continue Parrikar’s policy of giving adequate representation to minorities, urging allotment of 35% seats to Catholic candidates.

He said Parrikar’s policy of awarding tickets to minorities had stood the BJP in good stead in the 2012 and 2017 Assembly elections.

Then, Mr. Almeida had sided with the Congress’s accusations against BJP Minister Milind Naik, who was alleged to have sexually exploited a woman from Bihar. Mr. Naik was later forced to resign following the accusations.

Without naming his party colleague, Mr. Almeida had demanded that Mr. Naik be sacked, saying if the video of the alleged “sex scandal” was leaked, it would ruin the BJP’s image and badly impact its performance in the upcoming Assembly elections in five States.

This is the second jolt to the BJP in barely a week after its Cortalim MLA and former Minister Alina Saldanha had quit the party last week, citing “loss of principles” in the BJP and criticising the saffron party for pursuing destructive, anti-people policies.

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