Sunday, October 22, 2000,
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Goa Govt reduced to minority
BJP ministers resign

PANAJI, Oct 21 (UNI) ó In a swift political development, the eleven-month-old coalition government of Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha in Goa today plunged into a major political crisis with three BJP ministers resigning from the Cabinet and two splinter groups of the Congress deciding to merge with the BJP so that it could form its own government in this tiny state.

State Education Minister Prakash Phadte, Health Minister Suresh Amonkar and Power Minister Digamber Kamat handed over their resignation letters to BJP legislature party leader Manohar Parrikar. They cited no reason for their resignation.

In a related development, the nine member Congress legislature party (CLP) split when its leader and former Chief Minister Ravi Naik, former union minister Ramakant Khalap, former minister Sanjay Bandodkar and Mr Manohar Azgaonkar broke away and formed Indian National Congress (Ravi) which later announced its merger with the BJP.

Similarly, four legislators of the five member Indian National Congress (Shiekh Hassan) group, which had split from the Congress on August 15 this year, also decided to merge with the BJP.

Besides former speaker Haji Shiekh Hassan Haroon, the other members of the group are Mr Prakash Velip, Mr Philip Neri Rodrigues and Mr Jose Philip DíSouza. Another member of this group and former minister Suresh Parulekar will be admitted to the BJP fold after consultation with the party high command, BJP sources said.

Meanwhile, official sources said that state Governor Mohammad Fazal and Chief Minister Francisco Sardinha, who were out of the state, are returning here tomorrow as scheduled.

Mr Sardinha, along with a high level delegation comprising ministers and bureaucrats, was in Australia during last week to attract Australian tourists to the sun splashed beaches and mangroves of Goa. Some other ministers belonging to his Goan Peoples Congress were also on foreign tour.

The Goa Peoples Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party coalition government came to power in November last year after Mr Sardinha, who was Health Minister in the Congress Government headed by Mr Luizinho Falerio, revolted and walked out of the Congress with ten other legislators to form a separate group. All the eleven legislators of his party were inducted into the Cabinet while the BJP, the coalition partner, got three cabinet berths.
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