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‘Will always be Congress worker’: Ex-CM Rane pulls out of Goa polls amid feud with son

Six-time Goa CM Rane has never lost an election and had been representing Poriem since 1972. His daughter-in-law is fighting from the seat this time, on a BJP ticket.

File image of former Goa CM Pratapsingh Rane | Twitter | @DrPramodPSawant
File image of former Goa CM Pratapsingh Rane | Twitter | @DrPramodPSawant

Mumbai: Congress stalwart Pratapsingh Rane, Goa’s longest-serving MLA and a former CM, Thursday decided to not contest the upcoming assembly elections amid intense infighting within the Rane family.

The former six-time Goa CM has never lost an election and had been representing Goa’s Poriem assembly constituency since 1972, even when Goa was a Union territory and the constituency was known as Sattari.

This time, had Rane decided to contest the election, he would have been a direct rival of his own daughter-in-law Deviya Rane, wife of senior Rane’s son Vishwajit Rane, who has been with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2017. 

The BJP has nominated Deviya Rane from the 82-year-old’s bastion of Poriem, while the party has nominated Vishwajit from Valpoi, which he has represented since 2007, first as an independent, then as a Congress MLA and most recently as a BJP MLA.

Speaking to ThePrint, Pratapsingh Rane said: “I have spent 50 years in good, clean politics. I don’t need to fight an election to work for people. Being the head of the family, somebody needs to take a mature decision and I have decided to do so.”

He added: “I have and will always be a staunch Congress worker. I will support whichever candidate the Congress decides to nominate from the constituency.” 

Last month, Vishwajit Rane had warned his father to “gracefully retire” and that things can otherwise get “very messy”. 

Rane’s decision to pull out of the race will be a major blow to the Congress, which had safely held the seat for decades due to Rane’s hold over it. 

Speaking to ThePrint Wednesday, senior Goa Congress leader and former CM Digambar Kamat had said, Without Mr Rane contesting, I am not saying the chances (of the Congress winning Poriem) are very good, but chances are not bad. If there is a wave created in favour of Congress anything can happen.”


Also read: Five couples in fray to add spice to Goa Assembly polls


BJP’s overtures to Rane

The BJP has been making overtures to Rane attempting to weaken the Poriem seat for the Congress and enhance the ruling party’s chances in a seat that it has never won. 

In September, BJP’s election observer for Goa Devendra Fadnavis visited Rane’s house for dinner. Following this meeting, the BJP has insinuated that Rane might leave the Congress. 

In December, Rane cleared the air saying: “These people just want to spread canards… I belong to the Congress party for over 45 years and I don’t think I would ever, at this juncture, think of leaving the Congress party. I belong to the Indian National Congress and that’s it.”

Earlier this month, when Fadnavis, nominating Deviya Rane from Poriem, told reporters that senior Rane had decided to not contest and leave the seat for the BJP, Rane had sharply retorted saying there was no political discussion with Fadnavis and it was not his “father’s property to give away”. 

In early January, the BJP government in Goa had felicitated Rane with a lifetime cabinet rank to acknowledge his 50 years as MLA and his contribution to the state as former CM and assembly speaker.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)


Also read: BJP announces its second Goa list; no ticket for Shripad Naik’s son


 

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