A day of one-upmanship unraveled in Goa on Thursday, with both the national parties inducting local politicians to bolster their chances in the upcoming Lok Sabha election and Assembly bypolls.
First, the BJP inducted the former chief of Shiv Sena in Goa, Upendra Gaonkar, into its fold, with Chief Minister Pramod Sawant saying the move will help to consolidate the votes of “electors from the bhandari samaj in both the North and South Goa constituencies.”
By noon, the action shifted to the Congress state headquarters, with Atanasio Monserrate rejoining the party four years after walking out.
With the controversial politician, who yields influence across the vote bank in the state capital and its suburbs, officially entering the political fight against the BJP, the Congress stands to have a significant chance winning the Panaji Assembly seat, which fell vacant after former chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s death.
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The BJP is expected to officially announce the name of Utpal Parrikar, the former CM’s son, as their candidate for the seat.
The Congress headquarters seemed to have got a new lease of life, with the party’s state president Girish Chodankar and candidate for Lok Sabha saying, “Our small office is falling short for supporters of Monserrate…people having waited for this announcement.”
Monserrate was the man on the stage, with all the legislators congratulating him, as former Congress state president Luizinho Faleiro saying that his entry is a “good rebuttal to the mandate robbed by BJP which will be returned to the people”.
Monserrate said, “After roaming everywhere I have decided it’s time for homecoming… I went around in the last few months and the message is loud and clear… I should have listened to the voice of people…I am here now to defeat the BJP.”
Reacting to his statements, CM Sawant said, “Nothing matters. We are winning the Panaji constituency.”
Both Goa Lok Sabha seats will go to polls on Apil 23, while the Panaji Assembly bypoll will be held on May 19.