Son vs father in Goa’s Poriem? Minister Vishwajit wants BJP ticket as ex-CM Rane gets Congress’

Son vs father in Goa’s Poriem? Minister Vishwajit wants BJP ticket as ex-CM Rane gets Congress’

11-time Poriem MLA Pratapsingh Rane got Congress ticket a day after son Vishwajit told reporters the 83-year-old should 'gracefully retire' or it would 'get messy'.

File photos of former Goa CM Pratapsingh Rane (left) and his son, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane | Commons and ANI

File photos of former Goa CM Pratapsingh Rane (left) and his son, Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane | Commons and ANI

New Delhi: The Congress has renominated former Goa chief minister Pratapsingh Rane as its candidate for the Poriem constituency — where he is the sitting MLA — for the upcoming state assembly elections. 

This comes a day after his son, state Health Minister Vishwajit Rane, said he would contest from the Poriem seat himself — for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)— and called on his father to “gracefully retire”.

Pratapsingh announced his desire to contest Tuesday, and wrote to the Congress’s Central Election Committee. Vishwajit, who defected from the Congress to the BJP after the 2017 state elections, made his announcement hours later, although the BJP is yet to make it official. 

Vishwajit is currently MLA from the Valpoi constituency, right next to Poriem. The region is known to be a Rane family bastion. Pratapsingh, who has been chief minister (CM) of Goa six times, has been elected from Poriem for 11 consecutive terms.

Also read: It’s musical chairs in Goa as nearly a fifth of MLAs switch political ties in three months

‘Retire gracefully or it will get messy’

Hours after Pratapsingh Rane expressed his desire to contest from Poriem, Vishwajit Rane told reporters that his 83-year-old father should “gracefully retire”, else things could “get messy”. He also announced that he, too, would be contesting from Poriem.

“At 83, why does he have to continue in politics? A person who is my idol and someone I have so much respect for, that person should gracefully retire, not retire in the battlefield. It will be a very messy thing,” Vishwajit was quoted as saying.

After his comments caused controversy, Vishwajit took to Twitter to say that the two would resolve their differences “amicably”.

Vishwajit is currently serving his fourth term as MLA, and won from Valpoi on a Congress ticket in the 2017 elections.

As the Congress and the BJP tried to gather numbers to form a government in a hung assembly after the elections, Vishwajit expressed displeasure with the Congress leadership’s delay in gathering numbers even after emerging as the single largest party with 17 seats in the 40-member assembly. 

Thereafter, on the day of the floor test, Vishwajit quit the Congress in dramatic fashion by arriving at the assembly, registering his attendance, and then simply walking out in the middle of proceedings.

He then joined the BJP, won the bypoll from Valpoi on a BJP ticket, and was made health minister in the government then led by Manohar Parrikar.

Also read: Goa BJP minister Milind Naik, who quit over ‘sexploitation’ scandal, is corruption-accused too

Seat for wife & falling out with Pramod Sawant

Sources in the Goa BJP told ThePrint that Vishwajit was initially keen on making his wife, Divya Rane, contest from the Valpoi seat, while he wanted Poriem for himself. He was trying to convince his father not to contest the seat for the same reason.

“I had requested him. We had discussed this. But I feel that Congress central leaders and state leaders are pressuring him,” Vishwajit told reporters Tuesday.

Speaking to the press Tuesday, Pratapsingh said his supporters had egged him on to contest this election amid speculation that he might sit it out this year.

“My workers have taken this decision (to contest). They have said that I should contest the elections. Let us see what the people say,” he said.

Both Poriem and Valpoi, on the Karnataka-Goa border, are traditional strongholds of the Rane family — an old line of landlords who come from the North Goan town of Sankhali, also in the same area. CM Pramod Sawant of the BJP is the sitting MLA from Sankhali, also known as Sanquelim.

Vishwajit also reportedly had a falling-out with CM Sawant over the latter’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, speaking a few weeks ago, Sawant dismissed reports of such a spat.

“Elections are coming close… Many times several political parties keep harping on one thing repeatedly. That there is an ongoing fight between me and Vishwajit (Rane). I want to let you know that there is no fight between me and Vishwajit. We are both one,” Sawant was quoted as telling BJP workers at a party event in November.

The father-son spat also comes at a crucial time for the Congress which, after a series of defections since 2017, has now been reduced to just two MLAs in the Goa assembly. Pratapsingh and another former Goa CM, Digambar Kamat, are the party’s only remaining MLAs.

Last week, the Congress released a list of eight candidates for the upcoming polls, including the party’s working president and MLA from Curtorim, Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco, who was renominated from the same seat. However, Lourenco quit as an MLA Monday and flew to Kolkata, where he joined the Trinamool Congress the next day. 

(Edited by Rohan Manoj)

Also read: Why Congress & TMC’s alliances with Goa regional parties might not be enough to fight BJP