BJP, Congress gear up for Panaji fight

Done with two Lok Sabha elections and three Assembly bypolls on April 23, the BJP and the Congress are gearing up for the May 19 election to the prestigious Panaji Assembly seat that fell vacant following the demise of former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar. Parrikar died on March 17 after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer.

The Congress on Wednesday formally announced former Education Minister Atanasio Monserrate as its candidate. He joined the Congress recently.

Parrikar sons’ message

And in the case of the BJP, Parrikar’s elder son, Utpal, is the front runner as its candidate. He had expressed his readiness to further his father’s “legacy”. After Parrikar’s death, Mr. Utpal and his brother Abhijat, in a public message, said they would like to further their father’s legacy towards the State and the nation.

In a recent interaction with media, Mr. Utpal (38) said he was willing to take on any responsibility which the BJP offered. He had campaigned extensively for BJP’s North Goa MP and Union Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik in the Lok Sabha election and party’s candidate for the Mapusa bye-election on April 23.

Announcing the candidature of Monserrate, All India Congress Committee general secretary Mukul Wasnik said in a statement, “Congress president Rahul Gandhi has approved the candidature of Atanasio Monserrate for the bye-election to the Panaji Assembly constituency.”


Mr. Monserrate, who had been in and out of the BJP, the Congress and other regional outfits, recently resigned from the ruling Goa Forward Party, which is a part of the BJP-led alliance, to join the Congress.

Last year, he was charge-sheeted for allegedly raping a minor girl. He had also been booked for extortion and has a police case for the attack on a city police station with a mob when he was a MLA.

Mr. Monserrate, who was sacked for six years by the Congress for anti-party activities in 2015, was also a Minister in Parrikar’s BJP-headed coalition government in early 2000. He had been a Minister in the Congress-led coalition governments led by Pratapsing Rane and Digambar Kamat.

In BJP camp

Sources in the BJP said the process of selection of the candidate for the Panaji bypoll was on.

“We have a process in place for the selection of a candidate. And now that the elections are over, we are starting it now,” Goa BJP president Vinay Tendulkar said.

The party sources said a series of meetings had started in this regard.

Parrikar was first elected to the Panaji seat in 1994 and retained it till 2014, when he was elevated as Defence Minister. On his return to State politics in 2017, he won the bye-election to the seat and continued as Chief Minister till his death on March 17.

Mr. Siddarth Kuncolienkar, a former aide of Parrikar who won the seat twice during the latter’s absence in Goa — first in the bye-election after the latter’s resignation as Chief Minister and the second time in the 2017 Assembly elections only to vacate it when the latter returned as Chief Minister to head the government post 2017 Assembly polls, is the only other contestant in the race.

Besides the BJP and the Congress, the Aam Admi Party and the regional outfit headed by former Goa RSS chief Subhash Velingkar are also in the fray for the Panaji bypoll.


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