New Delhi: 10 Congress MLAs from Goa joined Bharatiya Janata Party in presence of the party’s working president JP Nadda and Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Thursday. Yesterday, a group of Congress MLAs in Goa, led by Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Chandrakant Kavlekar, broke away and merged with the BJP.

The lawmakers who joined hands with the BJP are Chandrakant Kavlekar, Atanasio Monserratte, Jeniffer Monserratte, Francis Silveira, Philip Nery Rodrigues, Cleaofacio Dias, Wilfred D’Sa, Nilkant Halarnkar, Isidor Fernandes and Antonio Fernandes.

Reacting sharply to the induction, Congress secretary in-charge of Goa A. Chellakumar said that by inducting these MLAs, who had been booked in BJP-led regimes for illegal matka gambling and rape, the saffron party has proved that it backs illegal matka business and rapists.

“You (BJP) had filed a rape case against Panaji MLA Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate. Now I want to ask the BJP, Narendra Modi or Amit Shah, how are you going to secure the ladies of Goa. What is the security for the women in the state,” Chellakumar said, recalling the high-pitched election campaign for the Panaji bypoll in May this year, in which Chief Minister Pramod Sawant and top BJP leaders had repeatedly said that if Monserrate, who was chargesheeted for raping a minor in 2018, got elected, women would not be safe in Panaji.

Following the induction, the strength of BJP has now risen to 27 while that of Congress has been reduced to five inthe 40-member Goa Assembly. Notably, Congress had emerged as single-largest party after 2017 Goa Assembly polls.