Goa minister Vishwajit Rane seen to be behind luring two Congress MLAs into BJP

Congress-turned-BJP leader and Goa minister Vishwajit Pratapsingh Rane is being seen as crucial in wooing over two Congress MLAs into the BJP Tuesday, thus altering the makeup of the state assembly.

Rane reached Delhi on Monday before Congress legislators Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte took a flight there to meet Bharatiya Janata Party national president Amit Shah Tuesday. Subsequently, Shirodkar and Sopte resigned from the assembly – resulting in the BJP and the Congress now having same number of legislators (14) in the house – before switching parties.

Hitting out at Rane, leader of opposition Chandrakant Kavlekar said: “The people will teach him a lesson.”

The Congress Tuesday also claimed that Rane was posing himself as successor to chief minister Manohar Parrikar, which the BJP denied but it caused rumbling within the ruling party. “If he (Rane) is made chief minister he will completely finish the BJP within a few years,” a senior BJP leader, who did not wish to be named, said.

Rane did not respond to phone calls and text messages.

The son of Pratapsingh Rane, Goa’s longest-serving legislator (being continuously elected since 1977) and former Congress chief minister, Rane, 47, was first elected to the assembly in 2007 as an independent candidate and was health minister in the Digambar Kamat-led Congress coalition government.

After the Congress emerged as the largest party after the 2017 assembly election but failed to form a government, Rane was the first to revolt. Accusing then Congress observer Digvijaya Singh of being solely responsible allowing the BJP to cobble up a coalition, he said the senior leader did not respond to their calls.

Rane skipped Parrikar’s vote of confidence and resigned barely a week after it. He was re-elected on the BJP ticket and inducted as a minister of health by Parrikar.

During Parrikar’s illness, he maintained a studied silence, refusing interviews and only claiming that the Congress was “frustrated” since it was “bleeding MLAs”.

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