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At centre of Goa defection storm, Michael Lobo returns to haunt Congress again

Two months after Congress accused then-LoP leader Michael Lobo of plotting to defect from his MLAs along with senior party leader and former Prime Minister Digambar Kamat, Lobo returned to deal another blow to the big old party. while he, along with seven other party MLAs, including his wife Delilah Lobo and Kamat, jumped aboard and joined the ruling BJP on Wednesday.

Congress had succeeded in thwarting their first attempt at apostasy in July by firing Lobo as LoP. It also then requested the disqualification of Kamat and Lobo as MLAs, and filed disqualification requests against them with the Assembly President, which are still pending. State Congress President Amit Patkar and other leaders also urged the Speaker to change seats in the House in accordance with the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) resolution removing Lobo as CLP leader. .

The triple MLA of Goa’s tourist hub Calangute, Lobo, 46, had switched from the BJP to Congress earlier this year ahead of the Goa Assembly polls in February. “You know where I am at the right time,” Michael Lobo often said in the months leading up to the polls. Soon after, he left the BJP, in whose government he was the Minister of Ports, Science and Technology, Rural Development and Waste Management, and entered the Congress, then won another term from Calangute.

Months into the new Assembly’s term, Lobo’s comment – “you’ll know where I am at the right time” – continues to hold true

now, given his return to the saffron party along with his wife Delilah in a move along with other defectors that would now reduce Congress’ numbers to just 3 MLAs in the 40-member Assembly.

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Earlier this year, when Lobo severed his 15-year ties to the BJP and joined Congress with Delilah and his supporters, it was seen as a shot in the arm for a crumbling Congress that had seen all but one of the MLAs depart to join other parties or withdraw from the February polls.

Before joining Congress, Lobo was a minister in the previous BJP government led by Prime Minister Pramod Sawant, but was often at odds with the government over statements he made in the press.

Lobo, a political heavyweight in Bardez, North Goa, took Congress victory on four seats in the taluka, including Siolim, where Delilah won for the first time. However, Lobo, a businessman with interests in several hotels and restaurants, has been on the receiving end of the government’s recent scrutiny of “illegalities”.

At a press conference in early July, Dinesh Gundu Rao, then AICC’s Goa, referred to this when he said of Lobo: “He has been working in the background with the BJP to save his own skin. Because of so many cases against him and so many problems he faces. confronted, he compromised himself.”

During the previous BJP regime, tension had been simmering for months between Lobo and the then Minister of Spatial Planning (TCP), Vishwajit Rane. Properties co-owned by the Lobos have also been announced by the Food and Drug Authority. Speaking at a General Assembly meeting, Rane had said he would expose the “illegitimacy” allegedly committed by Lobo during his tenure as chairman of the North Goa Planning and Development Authority (NGPDA).

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When he entered Congress in January, Lobo had said, “We have joined in the interest of Goa. The way forward for the people of Goa is only the Congress Party… When I was Vice-President I had taken a very strong stance. Overflow must stop. You cannot switch sides. You should resign,” he said.

Rao also had kind words for Lobo at the time: “A very strong, powerful base leader joins the Congress party. He is connected with the common people, he works for them. He has established himself as a great leader not only in his constituency, but all over the (Bardez) taluka… A great force has entered the Congress Party.” In July, however, Rao called Lobo a “traitor” and a “backstabber”.

When the apostasy hit Congress again, it was clear that eight months is a long time for Lobo, Congress, and Goa.

In a media interview Wednesday, Lobo confirmed that eight of Congress’ 11 MLAs have switched to the saffron party. “We have joined the BJP to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant… ‘Congress chhodo, BJP ko jodo (Exit Congress, strengthen the BJP)’,” he said.



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