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BJP denies Parrikar son’s request for dad’s old seat Panaji, wants him to fight from elsewhere

Ruling party fields sitting MLA Atanasio Monserrate, who jumped from Congress after bypoll in 2019. AAP invites Utpal Parrikar to join, Shiv Sena wants to back him as Independent.

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Mumbai: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chosen to overlook a request made by former Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar’s son to be allowed to contest the upcoming state assembly elections from his father’s old constituency, Panaji.

The elections on 14 February will be the first assembly polls that the BJP will be contest in Goa since former Union defence minister Parrikar’s death in 2019, and his son Utpal Parrikar had requested to be allowed to contest from Panaji.

The party has instead given the seat to sitting MLA, Atanasio Monserratte, who had won as a Congress candidate in a bypoll when Parrikar died after a long illness. Monserratte later defected to the BJP. The Panaji MLA’s name featured in the BJP’s first list of 34 candidates released Thursday.

Speaking to reporters in Delhi while announcing the BJP’s candidate list for Goa, party leader Devendra Fadnavis said the party wants Utpal to pick another seat.

“In Panaji, we have given the ticket to the sitting MLA. Utpal Parrikar and the Parrikar family are like our family. They are very close to us. We had given two more options to Utpal to contest the election. He has already rejected one option. We are still in discussions with him for the other. We all think he should agree,” the party’s Goa election in-charge said.

“In the BJP, we have always given respect to the Parrikar family,” he added.

Utpal Parrikar, 38, did not immediately comment on the BJP’s decision when ThePrint reached him over the phone.

The Panaji constituency

BJP’s rivals are likely to use the party’s denial of candidature to Utpal from Panaji to target the ruling party, painting it as a move that dishonours Manohar Parrikar’s contribution.

The senior leader, who died in March 2019 after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer, is credited with expanding the BJP’s base in Goa. The four-time CM had made Panaji a BJP bastion for almost 25 years. Utpal wanted to contest from Panaji in 2019 too when a by-poll to the seat was held following his father’s death. But, the BJP at the time decided to field Sidharth Kuncalienker instead.

The BJP, however, lost the seat to Monserratte, who had contested as a Congress candidate. Later that year, Monserratte and his wife, Jennifer Monserratte, jumped to the BJP along with eight other Congress MLAs.

Soon after the BJP published its list for the 14 February polls Thursday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Utpal to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and contest the election. Kejriwal tweeted saying, “Goans feel very sad that the BJP has adopted use and throw policy even with the Parrikar family.”

Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut too has declared that his party will back Utpal if he decides to contest as an Independent candidate and has urged all parties to do the same. The Shiv Sena is contested the Goa election in an alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).

The BJP’s candidate list

While the BJP claims it has a policy of giving tickets only to one member from each family, the party’s first list for Goa has at least two instances where more than one candidate has been fielded from a single family.

For instance, Atanasio and Jennifer Monserrate, both have been given candidature. Jennifer will contest from Panaji’s neighbouring constituency of Taleigao.

Similarly, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, who had defected to the BJP from the Congress in 2017, has been nominated from the Valpoi constituency, while his wife, Divya Rane, has been given candidature from the Poriem constituency. The Poriem constituency is currently represented by Vishwajit Rane’s father, former Goa CM Pratapsingh Rane, who is a Congress MLA.

“Vishwajit Rane has been our sitting MLA. And Pratapsingh Rane was a Congress MLA for 50 years. We had never won that seat. We requested him (Pratapsingh Rane) and he has left the seat for us,” Fadnavis told reporters.

While Pratapsingh Rane has debunked rumours of leaving the Congress and joining the BJP, he has indicated that he may not contest the election this time.

Last week, speaking to reporters in Goa, Congress leader P. Chidambaram had said, “Everybody knows that if he (Pratapsingh Rane) contests his seat he will win. By offering him candidacy we acknowledged the indisputable truth of winning the seat for the last 50 years. The decision to contest will be his.”

The BJP has also named CM Pramod Sawant as its candidate from the Sanquelim constituency, while Milind Naik, the Goa minister who had to quit last year due to allegations of sexual harassment of a woman, has also been given candidature from Mormugao.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: UP, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa, Manipur elections are sliding into an entertainment sport


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