Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant Wednesday claimed he had to drop his deputy and MGP MLA Sudin Dhavalikar from the Cabinet as he "failed" to adhere to the common minimum programme of the coalition government.
He rejected suggestions that the BJP had engineered a split in the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), whose two MLAs joined the saffron party in a dramatic turn of events in the early hours of Wednesday.
Talking to reporters, Sawant said coalition partners had worked out a common minimum programme (CMP) while forming the government under his leadership after the demise of Manohar Parrikar on March 17.
The MGP, which won three assembly seats in the 2017 polls, was one of the key allies in the BJP-led government in the coastal state.
However, Sudin Dhavalikar "failed" to adhere to the common minimum programme of the coalition government, he claimed.
"One of the conditions in the common minimum programme was that no alliance partner would contest the Shiroda assembly by-election.
"But MGP president Dipak Dhavalikar (brother of Sudin Dhavalikar) refused to withdraw from the Shiroda assembly constituency (where the BJP will field its candidate)," said the 46-year-old chief minister who took charge on March 19.
"We can't help him if he keep his interest above the party and the state government," Sawant said, referring to Dipak Dhavalikar's refusal to withdraw from the contest.
Two of the three MLAs of the MGP, the state's oldest regional party, joined the BJP in early hours of Wednesday.
The MLAs, Manohar Ajgaonkar and Dipak Pawaskar, split from the parent party, formed their own legislature wing and then merged it with the BJP.
Sawant asserted that the BJP or his government was in no way responsible for the split in the MGP.
"Both the MLAs were not feeling comfortable in the MGP. They were also apprehensive that they would be removed from the party. That is why they broke away and approached me (for merger with the BJP)," Sawant said.
The chief minister sought to downplay the MGP's announcement that it will contest both the Lok Sabha seats in Goa where polling will take place on April 23.
Sawant said the MGP's decision will not have any adverse impact on the prospects of BJP candidates Shripad Naik (North) and Narendra Sawaikar (South Goa).
Besides Shiroda, two more assembly seats - Mandrem and Mapusa - will see bypolls on April 23.