New Delhi: The possible father-son electoral battle between senior Congress leader Pratapsingh Rane and his son Vishwajit, over the Poriem constituency, in the upcoming Goa assembly elections, witnessed a fresh twist Thursday, with the BJP claiming that the senior Rane had accepted its request to “help” win the Poriem seat.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi while announcing the BJP’s candidate list for Goa, party leader Devendra Fadnavis had said, “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.”
Hours later, however, Pratapsingh Rane, a former CM who has held the Poriem seat since 1989 and has been an MLA for 50 years, told ThePrint that there had been “no talk of politics” when he met BJP’s Goa in-charge Fadnavis in September last year.
In early January, the BJP government in Goa had felicitated Rane with a “lifetime cabinet rank” in acknowledgement of him completing 50 years as MLA and for his contribution to Goa as CM and assembly Speaker.
The government’s announcement came after the veteran leader’s son, Vishwajit, a minister in the Goa government and the sitting MLA from Valpoi, said in December that he wanted to contest from his father’s Poriem seat. Vishwajit had asked his father to “retire gracefully”.
Following this, Pratapsingh Rane wrote to the Congress high command in Delhi, requesting to be nominated from Poriem. The Congress’ Central Election Committee (CEC) thereafter offered the seat to him.
However, after the Goa government’s announcement of a lifetime cabinet rank for Rane, Congress leader P. Chidambaram said the veteran leader was “yet to decide” whether he would contest elections.
‘No discussion on Poriem seat’
Speaking to ThePrint from Goa, Pratapsingh Rane said while Fadnavis did meet him, there was no talk of politics or any discussion on his seat being given away to the BJP.
“I have not had any discussion on the Poriem seat. It is not my father’s property to give away,” said Rane. “Mr Fadnavis just happened to meet me because my son is in BJP. Opposition people can always meet me. This is a democracy. Not a dictatorship. There was no political discussion at all. It was a social call.”
He also said he was yet to decide on whether or not he will contest the upcoming Goa assembly elections, to be held on 14 February.
Rane had been MLA from Goa’s Sattari constituency from 1972 to 1989 and has represented Poriem ever since the assembly segment was carved out in 1989.
Goa Congress sources told ThePrint that a decision is likely to be taken on the Poriem seat by Friday.
“It is shocking that Mr Fadnavis is repeatedly trying to insinuate about Pratapsingh Rane ji‘s commitment and loyalty to the Congress party. The fact that Rane ji has to repeatedly clarify that he has no such intentions and has never said what they’re attributing to him reflects on how the dirty tricks department of the BJP works,” Congress general secretary and Goa in-charge Dinesh Gundu Rao told ThePrint.
‘Congress is on a decline and cannot serve the country’
On Thursday, BJP announced Vishwajit Rane’s name as the party’s candidate for the Valpoi constituency (which he currently holds) and his wife Divya’s name from Poriem.
ThePrint had earlier reported that Vishwajit wanted his wife to contest from his Valpoi seat, while he himself wanted Poriem.
“… we requested him (Pratapsingh Rane) and told him that Congress is on a decline and cannot serve the country. He should therefore give the seat to the BJP and run on a BJP ticket or help us. He accepted what we said, but said that he’s old and will not contest for that reason. He said Divya Rane will contest that seat,” Fadnavis had told reporters in Delhi.
Vishwajit and Divya Rane are one of two husband-wife duos featured in the list of BJP candidates for Goa announced Thursday. The other is Atanasio Monserrate, the sitting MLA from the Panaji constituency, and his wife Jennifer Monserrate, who is a minister and the sitting MLA from the Taleigao constituency. Both of them have been nominated from the constituencies they hold.
“We have made this decision only in the case of sitting (MLAs),” said Fadnavis, to explain the BJP’s decision to give two seats to one family, despite claims by the party that it has a policy of giving tickets only to one member from each family.
(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)