Panaji: In a major blow to Congress’ attempts to dissolve the BJP-led coalition government in Goa, two of its MLAs resigned from the party on Tuesday, bringing down the party’s strength from 16 to 14 in the 40-member House.

Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte, who went to Delhi late last night, faxed their resignation letters to Speaker Pramod Sawant and are set to join the BJP. The development took place after their meeting with BJP President Amit Shah in the national capital.

With their resignation, the Congress ceases to be the single largest party in the Assembly whose effective strength now stands reduced to 38.

In the 40-member Goa Assembly, the Parrikar government has the support of 23 MLAs. These comprise 14 BJP MLAs, three each from the Goa Forward Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party as well as three Independents.

The Congress, with 16 seats, had emerged as the single largest party in the fractured verdict thrown up in the Assembly elections held in March last year.

However, it had failed to form the government as it could not muster the majority. Since, then it has been repeatedly laying claim to form the government, arguing that it was the single largest party.

The development assumes further significance as it comes at a time when Goa is witnessing hectic political activity against the backdrop of the ill-health of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar.

On Monday too, the state Congress unit wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention to allow it to form government.

The letter said, “Indian National Congress (INC), that is still the single-largest party, is willing to shoulder the responsibility of forming the government. We’ve requested the Goa Governor to dismiss the BJP-led state government and consequently, invite the Congress to form the government and prove the majority that we possess.”

Sopte and Shirodkar were part of the crucial Congress Legislature Party meeting held in the state earlier to discuss the political situation arising out of the ill-health of Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, Kavlekar said.

Sopte, 54, represented the Mandrem Assembly constituency in North Goa district, while Shirodkar, 66, was elected from the Shiroda in South Goa district.