Ravi quits BJP to join Cong

SANDESH PRABHUDESAI, PANAJI | 10 May 2002 22:32 IST

In a sudden twist to the whole political scene in Goa, Bharatiya Janata Party's deputy chief minister Ravi Naik today resigned from the government as well as the party, on the eve of Assembly polls scheduled on 30 May.

He is expected to stage a homecoming, by joining the Congress, to contest from his Ponda constituency. Interestingly, the BJP had already confirmed his ticket earlier.

Though Naik was not available for comments since he was busy in a close-door meeting with his workers, Raj Bhavan confirmed receipt of a fax letter regarding his resignation, sent to Governor Mohammed Fazal.

Chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who has faced a major blow due to Naik's last-minute exit, was not available for comments. Naik, known for his organising skill, represents the majority Bhandari community in the state.

Naik, along with three others, had split from the Congress in October 2000 when he was the opposition leader. He later joined the saffron brigade and form the BJP government in Goa. However, chief minister Manohar Parrikar went ahead with Assembly dissolution on 27 February, paving way for fresh polls.

Ramakant Khalap and Sanjay Bandekar, his two other ministerial colleagues who had split with him, had quit the party earlier. All three of them are likely to get Congress tickets.

The BJP has already fielded the fourth defector - minister Babu Azagaonkar, besides few other Congress defectors, who had split earlier or later.

Meanwhile, in yet another development, Prof Surendra Sirsat, former president of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party, also quit his party. He has been reportedly offered Congress ticket from Mapusa, the constituency he represented earlier.

All these tickets however would be confirmed only when the Congress will officially announce the list in New Delhi today evening. People here are also awaiting to see whether the Congress gives tickets to all the defectors, who had split at some or other time, to join hands with the opposition and become ministers.


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