Not Congress, Goa BJP's own MLAs its bitterest critics

Panaji, Feb 25: With deep fissures within the Congress rendering the main opposition party virtually toothless, the main opposition to Goa's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to be from its own camp.

Two first-time legislators from the saffron party, Michael Lobo (Calangute) and Vishnu Wagh (St. Andre) over the last few weeks have been upping pressure on Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar, accusing their own government of turning a blind eye to rampant prostitution, corruption and unchecked police atrocities.

Infighting within Goa BJP

Lobo, on Monday, took his protest against the BJP-led coalition government a notch higher by going on a day-long hunger strike to "highlight" rampant prostitution in the beach shacks in his constituency, which hosts internationally renowned beaches like Calangute and Candolim, and a brutal assault against ayoung student by two police constables.

"Something had to be done to bring these issues to light. How can you turn a blind eye to prostitution and shacks serving as dance bars? Women in my constituency are unsafe at night. The government has not been doing enough," Lobo told IANS.

Lobo, incidentally, has been accused in a First Information Report (FIR) last Saturday for razing down night clubs from where dance bars were allegedly functioning.

"There was prostitution happening there and the public reacted against it because the government wasn't doing anything," Lobo added.

Wagh, the other BJP legislator on the rebellion path, has been critical of his party's functioning over issues related to governance and stifling of popular dissent against the government's policies.

A noted writer and dramatist, Wagh earlier this month upped his ante after the state government started preparing the groundwork towards setting up of a censor board to monitor tiatr, a more than 100-year-old form of popular Konkani theatre.

"There should be absolutely no censorship of creative art," Wagh, who has been critical of the BJP on a whole range subjects in recent times, right from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial name-emblazoned pinstripe bandgala to the recent vandalisation of churches in Delhi, told IANS.

Apart from party MLAs, other independents MLAs like Rohan Khaunte, who had been supporting the BJP-led coalition government until last November, when Manohar Parrikar was chief minister, has also switched hats for the moment.

"If this is the way the government is going to operate, I do not want to be a part of the support structure," Khaunte, a legislator from Porvorim, a suburb of Panaji, told IANS.

The BJP however claims there is no threat to the government and that the conduct of its MLAs, especially Lobo and Wagh, was unbecoming.

"These are anti-party acts. We, as a party, will never succumb to them," Goa BJP chief Wilfred Mesquita told IANS when asked to react to the dissent within the party.

He also said that the BJP had a robust intra-party structure to discuss differences of opinion.

"As MLAs they should have approached the chief minister to resolve any problems which they face," Mesquita added.

The BJP would however take solace in the fact that, despite dissent, the government is well-placed as far as assembly-floor arithmetic is concerned, especially at a time when the Congress is a bitterly divided house.

The BJP has 21 legislators in a house of 40 and is also supported by two regional parties and their five legislators. Two other independent MLAs are also a part of the treasury benches, for an effective strength of 28.


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