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Digambar Kamat, a former chief minister, has said he’s shocked at charges of trying to divide Congress.Panaji: The Congress in Goa wants two of its 11 MLAs — Digambar Kamat and Michael Lobo — disqualified under the anti-defection law, and has petitioned the Speaker of the assembly for it. Sources said the Congress now has seven of its MLAs still with it, citing their attendance at a meeting this morning. The four not keeping in touch, besides Mr Lobo and Mr Kamat, are Kedar Naik and Delilah Lobo, Mr Lobo’s wife. Senior leader Mukul Wasnik, deputed by party chief Sonia Gandhi to handle the crisis, has called a meeting of the legislative party — meaning all MLAs — this evening, it is learnt.There was speculation that Mr Kamat and Mr Lobo were among at least six MLAs who may switch over to the BJP, which retained power in the 40-member House in elections held earlier this year. If eight MLAs defect as a group, they can avoid disqualification. The BJP has insisted it has nothing to do with the crisis.The Congress petition to the Speaker came even as Mr Kamat, a former chief minister, said he was “shocked and stunned” at the allegations of leading a division. He rejected Congress’s Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao’s charge that the two leaders were working in “total coordination” with the ruling BJP. The Congress has already removed Michael Lobo as Leader of Opposition. Mr Lobo, who switched from the BJP to Congress just before the elections earlier this year, has said, “Nobody has approached me and there is no thought on these lines (of defection).”Exactly three years ago, two-thirds of the Congress’s assembly strength — 10 of 15 MLAs at the time — had defected to the BJP. Hoping not to get singed again, the Congress this year made its candidates take a loyalty vow.Now, the party appears to have stemmed any defection — at least for the time being — as it acted swiftly by deploying senior leaders to talk to the potential rebels.Congress in-charge Rao has said the two leaders were trying to effect defections because of their personal reasons: “One person — Digambar Kamat — did it to safeguard his own skin because so many cases are against him; and the other person — Michael Lobo — for the sake of power and position. BJP wants to finish any opposition.”



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