Goa Leader of Opposition to move resolution for changes to anti-defection law

Congress had sought the disqualification of ten of its MLAs who defected to the BJP in 2019. After the Speaker of the legislative Assembly dismissed the petitions, the issue is now under contest before the High Court of Bombay at Goa.

Leader of Opposition in the Goa Legislative Assembly Digambar Kamat is set to move a private member’s resolution during the next session of the Assembly to bring about “necessary changes” in the anti-defection law. A three-day session of the Assembly is expected to be held later this month.

Congress had sought the disqualification of ten of its MLAs who defected to the BJP in 2019. After the Speaker of the legislative Assembly dismissed the petitions, the issue is now under contest before the High Court of Bombay at Goa.

Kamat said: “I am moving a private member’s resolution in the Legislative Assembly of Goa suggesting that this house should resolve, recommend to the Central government to make necessary changes to the anti-defection law which will stop all such type of defections. I appeal to all my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly of Goa to unanimously support this.”

He said that changes need to be made to the anti-defection law in a way that such cases of defections go directly before the High Court or the Supreme Court for an “express judgment”.

“The judgment should be given in a period of 60 days or something like that so that people come to know their fate immediately. The second option is that if somebody has any difference of opinion with respect to the party or the party leadership, he has the option to resign and seek the fresh mandate of the people so that, once and for all, the matter is resolved,” said Kamat.

All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Goa, Dinesh Gundu Rao, said in a tweet, “I fully endorse the decision to move a resolution in the Goa Assembly by Sri Digambar Kamat to bring drastic changes in the ineffective anti-defection law. Buying MLAs & toppling govts has made democracy a farce & people’s mandate meaningless.”

The anti-defection law makes it mandatory that two-thirds of the strength of a party should agree for a ‘merger’. The amendment, which came into force in January 2004, does not recognise a ‘split’ in a legislature party and instead recognises a ‘merger’.

The Congress, that announced on Monday that it is on track to win 23-26 seats in the 40-member Goa legislative Assembly in the polls slated for next February-March, had earlier made it clear that it permanently shut its doors to MLAs who jumped ship after winning the 2017 Assembly polls on a Congress ticket.

Twelve MLAs — ten from the Congress and two from the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP) — joined the BJP in 2019, making it the single largest party with 27 of 40 MLAs in the state. The 12 MLAs who defected include deputy chief ministers Manohar Ajgaonkar, Chandrakant Kavlekar and revenue minister Jennifer Monserrate.

MGP leader Sudin Dhavalikar, the lone party MLA in Goa after two of his colleagues defected, had earlier also demanded changes in the anti-defection law and said that regional parties were at the receiving end of the flaws in the law as it exists. The MGP, like the Congress, had sought the disqualification of its defecting MLAs.

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